The 16:42? that’s just the name of the train ..

Having once again failed to provide any trains for a long period from Brighton this evening Southern Rail have issued the following statement.

‘We are committed to providing a service even though we have failed to provide anything of the sort for a very long time. We recently took the extraordinarily brilliant measure of cancelling 350 trains a day to allow passengers to have more confidence that an incompetent organisation like us might be able to manage the relatively simple task of getting a metal object to roll along a fixed track between any two places at least once a day whereas a few times was clearly a big ask.’

‘However we have noticed on social media – even though we never do anything so crass as to actually respond to you – that some individuals are still not happy

‘This is very strange but we think we have found the underlying cause.’

‘We want to take this opportunity to remind people who would perhaps be passengers – in the unlikely event of there being anything to step onto – that the number-colon-number pattern that we identify trains by is

just the name of the train.’

‘We have noticed a considerable confusion amongst the largely stationary public – who for perhaps historic or cultural reasons still seem to associate for example the 16:42 with something to do with the time the train might be expected to leave or depart. We do want to reiterate that this is not the case – it is just the name of the train.’

‘We would have hoped that by now the aspirationally travelling public would have realised this, but we take this opportunity to help everyone understand that this is simply a misunderstanding’.

‘We hope that by taking the extraordinary thoughtful and caring measure of clarifying this folks will be a bit more relaxed as they miss their classes, their theatre, their dinner dates, can’t spend time with their loved ones or get to work or home again even though they pay us a fortune in the hope that they might be able to get somewhere’.

‘And just to make sure that everyone understands we will continue to broadcast the fact that we are very sorry for the inconvenience this misunderstanding about the names of our trains may have caused over every loudspeaker we can find, in every single station that you are trapped on, very loudly, every 23 seconds and remind you until you just want to DIE that you can got WWW.whatever all will be OK even though you have a brain and you realise that you don’t need the WWW bit’.  

‘We just want to make sure that you loose all the will to live and just curl up on the platform and don’t ever complain that we are allowed to get away with this complete CRAP and continue to charge you a fortune for us to be  a patronising, clueless, useless bunch of shits and put you through complete and utter misery’.

Pugliese : Pata Ancha


So I disappear down another rabbit hole.

Breathlessly pursuing Borges, Pugliese and the Spanish Language through echoing caverns of meaning and history.

I think as native English speaking Tango students – when there is a lyric – we at least stand a chance. We can google, find someone else’s talented work in translation. Learn from it. Add to this over time.

It may be poetic, it may have a lot of Lunfardo – but we can normally get the essence, and maybe that helps us to interpret better.

But when as dancers we are responding to something as dramatic as the more passionate Pugliese instrumentals we can feel lost. There is just nothing individual to hang onto. Yes ‘Pata Ancha’ has the classic Yumba sound from the first moments – that signature marcato that might bring to mind the heartbeat of the city, or the metalworkers in the factory – but we need more.

So google will tell you that Pata Ancha means – ‘wide leg’.

Well that’s good – it doesn’t mean some kind of fish pate then. But what on earth .. Sex? Solidity? Strength? The brutality of ugliness?

No. But of course this is pointing us towards the answer. It is at least a start.

I am in such very severe danger of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing – and I do welcome help from anyone – please – but  Martín Fierro (El Gaucho) is an epic poem by the Argentine writer José Hernández. Published in two parts n the 1870s.

And in this poem is ( the first? Most relevant?) mention of a colloquial meaning of the phrase ‘Pata Ancha’ – “Dealing with anger to any danger”.

Echoes of the meaning of “Mandria’ – ( D’Arienzo ) – not just as worthless – but as the way Gauchos used to knife fight each other – not to the death but until one of them was facially scarred and so was worthless to a woman.

And so it comes back again to the Gaucho roots of Milonga / Tango – of course Gauchos wore wide pants.

They  were passionate, rural and proud – they in many ways defined their lives in harsh terms – wanting to die proud – to respond by putting themselves on the line.

And it is this essence of the early Milonga that as I understand it Borges wanted to get back to. He resented the loss of the guitar, the introduction of romanticism, Lunfardo and even vocals at all. To him the essence was the Pampa, the space, the freedom and a man finding himself.

And at this point I am just going to stop and refer anyone interested to a really worthwhile, fascinating and academic reference ( also attached so hopefully one will work  borges-milonga ) that Borges and Pugliese led me to as I chased them down a rabbit hole, about 4 hours ago. And I am still falling.. and falling.



Lead me but keep the follower’s embrace

So much is said about followers and leaders – but surely what matters is communication so that we can together share the dance and the music to take it in whatever direction we each feel.

A wonderful exercise – that thanks to the inspiration of Joao Alves – I have been including in my tango schedule for a couple of years now – is ‘dancing with no arms’. In his lessons the general approach is normally  consistent – solo exercises with him and the mirror, then dancing with no arms, then drawing the embrace – and then the lesson.

After thinking about this for a while I am starting to extend this now to a structure where we as a couple will dance with no arms, but my partner can communicate to me – with her body – that she is now the leader. And then we can communicate the change back. It is going to be hard work – but so fascinating.

Our goal is that this can be completely natural and seamless – so that at any time in the dance she can take the role that we refer to as leading – and then hand it back.

All with no change of role expressed through an embrace change. That is something else entirely. With no con tricks – just a passing of the setting of the structure of the dance from one to the other, through communication between our bodies, whenever this adds richness to our experience.

We work on this ‘with no arms’ precisely because this way of moving together has already lost the symbolic confirmation of the asymmetrical embrace – and so it is much easier to break down our preconceptions.


My next goal – for many months into the future – is that from the natural follower’s  embrace  she should be able to take over, express herself, and then – if she feels it is appropriate to the music –  to lead me simple things like an intent for either one of us to boleo or planeo.

So she takes the lead over not just so that she can express her emotion through what we think of as embellishments – to demand her emotional space – but so that she can also request a specific response from me. And I will be a good enough listener to answer her.

And then jointly agree to change it back.

Our task is in no way for her to learn the detailed role of the figures and complexity of being a leader – but instead to be able to take over the setting of the intent. And to use this to request emotion back from me in more than just those figures that we naturally associate with the role that has to work within – and not disturb – the structure of our dance.

It’s so very, very exciting – I hope so much that it works.