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The Golden Nugget (updated)

The Golden Nugget of Tango

The Golden Nugget of Tango. Once long ago you were an itty-bitty Tango dancer. You could barely walk, the music was either intriguing or unappealing at best, one or the other. The very idea of going to a Milonga as a neophyte dancer where everyone and god could see just how much you were sucking raw eggs just about scared the bejeebers out of you. Then as you took a few classes, went to a few more milongas you started to feel like you knew what you were doing, sort of. You may have learned a few ‘steps’, gotten some feedback about what you’re supposed to do from a variety of people, you were possibly exposed to a Traveling Ocho, and the Follower’s Molinete (Leading and Following it), and most certainly the Argentine Cross. While at the same time, sort of seeing and hearing that there was an idea to the music but it was too vague for you to ‘get’ immediately other than there was a beat. You saw people dancing very close, and learned that this was called ‘Close Embrace’. You learned about the line of dance, about navigation and floorcraft (not the same things by the way), and something called 'Cabeceo'…just to name a few. All along the way you made a few friends, people you enjoyed dancing with and enjoyed the learning process. And in the end you still feel like you had a lot to learn. This entire process of feeling like a ‘Social Dancer’ usually took anywhere from 6 months to a year at minimum, depending on the role you were dancing. And even less if you were role swapping right from the beginning!

What if there were another way ? What if you could have learned a way to Tango that encompassed all of that stuff, but quite literally took 1/10th the time! What if there were a particular pattern that you could use (as a Lead or a Follow) that would've allowed you to dance all the foundational vocabulary, that respected the line of dance, protected the follower, but wasn’t repetitive at all unless you wanted it to be! What if there was a pattern that was insanely musical, highly extensible, and easily modified, and easily learned! What if ? Sounds like sales hyperbole huh ? Thank god it's not.

You would think that for the beginner dancer such a thing would be a god-send, for either role for a variety of obvious reasons! You would think that for the person that's been dancing a while, the advancing dancer who has already gone through that trial above, for either role, that they'd clearly love such a thing because it addresses 2 of their primary concerns: 1.) what do I next ? and 2.) I hope I don’t screw up! 

Enter The Golden Nugget of Argentine Tango.

Linking Notation: All the links on this site are internal definition links, nothing is external (excluding tangotopics youtube channel, and facebook like & share links), meaning the links are there to create a deeper and richer clarity.

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 31m:49s). You can purchase The Argentine Wrap for just 34.99 not including your level discount. You can get a $3.00 discount if you register to see the discount code!

What is The Golden Nugget of Tango ?  It is a Tango Topics construct, meaning ? It is a very irregular piece of Tango vocabulary you won't find any other teacher or youtube video on it. It is one of the very few patterns or ‘steps’ that Tango Topics actively promotes as a very useful tool that you can take out social dancing today, right now! Unlike 98% of tango patterns that only work under certain conditions, The Golden Nugget can be used in all three dances, all night long, and never be repeated. Put simply this is everything you will ever need to know in order to dance Argentine Tango in one complete package. This is not sales boast, or sales hyperbole. It’s demonstrable fact. The author is living proof of that fact!

The Golden Nugget (as it is affectionately called) contains the 7 basic ‘moves’ (seriously -> see the link) that you must master in order to dance. However, no one teaches it. And that’s because until recently it didn’t exist. Most Tango teachers will start you off with walking, and then possibly to Ochos, and then show you the dreaded ‘8 Count Basic’ which leads to an Argentine Cross, and/or show you the Ocho Cortado as a place to start pattern wise. And in doing so you, the unwitting student will end up repeating, and regurgitating the same move over and over and over again which makes them appear like a dance studio baby. 🙁

The Golden Nugget on the other hand replaces all of that stuff. Every. Last. Bit. Not that you don’t need to know walking, ochos, or crosses. No, you should study your walk. Not that you should not study your ochos and perfect them. You rightly should. Not that you shouldn’t rightfully practice the Follower’s Molinete. No. You should do all that stuff. That ‘stuff’ is insanely important and as every advanced dancer will tell you they’re constantly revisiting their foundation to clean up their issues.

The Golden Nugget solves the two problems above as well. It removes the uncertainty of what to do next because that decision is quite literally embedded into the solution itself. It also removes the problem of not wanting to screw up either and forces you work on and try to execute better or cleaner technique.

This is the The Golden Nugget of Tango in broad stroke.

Difficulty Rating: 3.0 Stars3.0 / 5 The Super Ocho is going to kill!

From A Following Perspective this is Side, Back, Back, a Super Ocho (Over-rotated Ochos), and then an Argentine Cross! Not too complicated. Right ? And that’s because it’s not. This is something that you’ve done 10,000 times. The difference here, and what makes learning the Golden Nugget useful for you is that it can and will challenge you to work on your foundation because it is all foundational work! Meaning ? You’re going to want to hone your foundation on a regular basis in order to dance this seemingly simple but very complex piece of vocabulary. Unlike most steps, patterns, and figures that are useless for because they don’t really do anything for you as a whole, the Golden Nugget does just the polar opposite. It forces you to revisit your foundation and to work on three key elements:

Your Back Step. What Follower couldn’t use a bit more work on their back step. And have space and time to actually create an elegant back step that makes you look like a million dollars ? Every Follower wants that. The Golden Nugget allows you to work on that independent of the Lead! Just the steps themselves, gives you something to practice, an idea to focus on in your back steps!

Your Ochos. Every Follower needs to work on their Disassociation and then their Applied Disassociation which when put together can be executed as an Ocho but in it’s component elements allows for so many more options and opportunities for the Follower to expand their capabilities!

Your Crosses. There’s never enough time to actually work on this stuff. Really. Usually we end up with ‘Dirty Crosses’ but what would happen if you had a piece of vocabulary that you could immediately teach to a lead that would allow you to work on the Argentine Cross and your crosses and at the same time ? Would the be of interest to you ? Because the Golden Nugget is insanely extensible you are never assured that the cross will occur in the same place twice! Which forces to actually listen to the lead AND then put that cross into it’s proper place not just because you KNOW there’s supposed to be a cross there!

From a Leading Perspective the Golden Nugget is all about Tango toys for you. ‘Toy’ in the respect that it means options and opportunities to do different things, as well as create a sense of certainty with what can happen next.

Frequently most leads are stuck as to what to do next, so they end up doing the same things over and over again which essentially boils down to, on a crowded dance floor, turn, turn, turn, cross, turn some more! Turn to the left, turn to the right, vary the speed of the turn, then cross and then start again. At some point along the curve this same lead is thinking they need to be on beat, and very distantly they’re thinking about floorcraft.

The Golden Nugget solves all of those problems in three very distinct ways because it opens the doorway to:

Line of Dance & Floorcraft. You’re going to have to learn about this stuff eventually and the Golden Nugget reinforces this idea without there being a conscious thought or someone dictating to you that you must follow the line of dance. Because of it’s singular linear nature, you’re going to end up following the line of dance anyway. As a result of the execution of the Golden Nugget you will reinforce good Floorcraft skills, again mostly without the need to have someone dictate to you. But rather as a happenstance of the structure of the Golden Nugget itself.

Versatility. While the basic of the Golden Nugget for you is really leading the Follower to execute Side, Back, Back, a Super Ocho (Over-rotated Ochos), and then an Argentine Cross! The fact is that you do NOT need to do this pattern in exactly the same way over and over again. Truth be told you can execute this in nearly any fashion you like! You could for instance execute Back, Back, Side, Super Ocho, Super Ocho, and then an Argentine Cross! Or Argentine Cross, Forward, Side, Side (change directions), Back, Back, Ocho, Ocho, Ocho, Super Ocho, Cross. It can be taken apart and put back together in almost any order you like. And because there other implied movements within the structure it’s easy to add them…which leads to the next idea.

Extensibility. The Golden Nugget allows for you to not only change the order or how things are done - to modify them, and the timing, but also to add, drop-in other ideas like: A forward traveling ocho, a molinete instead of a cross at the end, or in the middle because of the Super Ocho lends itself very well to being turned into the Follower’s Molinete. There’s a possible Lead Molinete there as well, as well as a Calecita right at the point of the Super Ocho. There are a host of Sacadas (nearly a hundred common ones of the 501 possible Sacadas) on nearly every step including the Cross for both roles. There are Incremental Steps nearly everywhere, which work well on the back and side steps. There are Check Steps too that are sitting there! There are implied Rock Steps on nearly every step, except for the Cross. There’s even an Ocho Cortado that’s sitting there out of the cross! All possible if you just expand your thinking a bit.

And all of this is accessible and addressable to the music that’s playing in any tempo. Any Tempo. Any Style of the Music: Tango, Vals, or Milonga! It works extensively well in milonga as well. Why ? Because Milonga Porteña is usually danced in the linear, and the Golden Nugget is linear and very briefly is it circular!

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!

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Deeper Extensibility.  You can go much deeper than the typical Golden Nugget, by adding Golden Nugget Extensions (for just $24.99). Essentially it's playing with the Follower's Extensions (hence the name), as well as the Lead's possible extensions as well. It uses the Golden Nugget as the guide point, and then plays with every possibility that you can think of and some that you haven't! Both products (the Golden Nugget AND Golden Nugget Extensions) can be purchased as a bundle for just $69.99.

About The Video. This video comes in at 31m:16s in length in 12 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 - Lead - 00:02:42
Section 2 - Follow - 00:02:03
Section 3 - Lead/Follow Together - 00:01:50
Section 4 - Linking Step 1 - 00:02:03
Section 5 - Linking Step 2 - 00:03:40
Section 6 - The “Why” - 00:01:36
Section 7 - Set Up - 00:02:26 (the video above minus the golden nugget)
Section 8 - Close Embrace Version - 00:01:22
Section 9 - Embrace Clarities- 00:04:51
Section 10 - Versatility - 00:01:25
 Section 11 - Cross System - 00:04:38
Section 12 - Example - 00:02:50

It can be purchased for $49.99 (don't forget the 10.00 discount) or downloaded as part of your subscription with your discount!

From a Dancing Perspective the Golden Nugget is a dancing cornucopia if for no other reason because of its extensibility! Whereas most patterns or sequences must be done in the exact same way each and every time which is why you must learn multiple multiples of them in order to seem like you’re dancing to the music and not just regurgitating the same idea over and over again. As a result of that regurgitation the Follower quickly knows your spiel, they know what you’re about to do. They could literally set their watch by it. The Golden Nugget on the other hand is anything but repetitive!

A Little Story. When I first learned this my teacher sent me out into the Tango world almost immediately afterwards (after spending about 5 days on it) and I went to my 1st milonga. I sat there most of the night without the intention to dance because I knew I wasn't ready for it. Along about midnight and the end of the milonga a friend that came with me asked me to dance and I freaked right out. She finally pulled me to the floor and I had to dance. So I tried the only thing I knew - The Golden Nugget (mind you it wasn't called that then). 4 steps in and I ran into people, I crossed lanes of dance, I even stepped on some poor lady's foot! I went back to my teacher the next day and said "this f*cking thing doesn't work!!!!". He smiled and asked "Why not ?". I told him what had happened the night before. He laughed and said, "Miles, you oriented the wrong way going down the line of dance and instead...." can you guess ? I went across the lanes of dance! I could have screamed. I learned a very valuable lesson that day, one that would carry me forward. Not all is at it appears and to investigate why something works! I hadn't. From that day to this one. I always ask....always.

The Missing Information.  There's a free tip (for registered free users) that's not here because you're not logged in. If you were logged in, you'd see a free tip, but because you're not, you're not seeing it. So ? If you want the free tip, then go register as a free user and login. 🙂 However, if you want the toys, and to see the 31m:16s HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Golden Nugget and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $10.00 discount if you register as a free user, and then buy it with the discount code contained here that you can't see yet. or 2.) You can subscribe!

 Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the how the Golden Nugget works! That’s why! 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique.

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

The Four Parts of Social Milonga

Social Milonga

Milonga, and really 'Social' Milonga, is a difficult dance to Lead, but an easy one to Follow. Easy, if and only if, the Lead (person, not the action - 'lead') has a frakkin' clue about what they're doing. If they don't, you, as the Follower are screwed and not in a good way either! Good Milonga is a step above modern Tango in that it requires both parties to be at their best technique wise. It requires both parties to understand an embrace that is non-compressive, non-restrictive, and have mastered a stable, clean, clear walking platform that does not 'thud'. There is no need to 'hang', 'pull', or 'push' in any way, shape, or form. 

Let's get a few terms and definitions out of the way before we go any further for the initiated and the uninitiated. The word 'Milonga' has 3 definitions. 1.) It refers to the 'dance' party, and social experience that we aspire towards dancing at via classes and workshops and learning the codigos of the dance itself. The whole point of tango is to emulate the Milonga experience as a whole that we would find in Buenos Aires. 2.) It refers to a musical style of music that is typically written as 2/4 time, or at about 80 - 100 beats per minute. There are several versions of Milonga music, not the least of which is Tango-Milonga, Milonga Porteña, Milonga Criolla, and a few others. Candombe is not Milonga, but is frequently confused with Milonga. A poorly trained DJ will add one into a milonga tanda thinking that it's Milonga music when in fact it's not. Further still, a common error is to add a Foxtrot or a Tango Foxtrot, thinking that it's milonga when it's not. 3.) Refers to the dance itself, which is a frequently, and mistakenly thought of as a subset of Tango movement, and this is an error. Milonga (not Milonga Porteña or Modern Milonga) begat Tango, and from that Tango as we think of it today grew.

 

Let's get a few terms and definitions out of the way before we go any further for the initiated and the uninitiated. The word 'Milonga' has 3 definitions. 1.) It refers to the 'dance' party, and social experience that we aspire towards dancing at via classes and workshops and learning the codigos of the dance itself. The whole point of tango is to emulate the Milonga experience as a whole that we would find in Buenos Aires. 2.) It refers to a musical style of music that is typically written as 2/4 time, or at about 80 - 100 beats per minute. There are several versions of Milonga music, not the least of which is Tango-Milonga, Milonga Porteña, Milonga Criolla, and a few others. Candombe is not Milonga, but is frequently confused with Milonga. A poorly trained DJ will add one into a milonga tanda thinking that it's Milonga music when in fact it's not. Further still, a common error is to add a Foxtrot or a Tango Foxtrot, thinking that it's milonga when it's not. 3.) Refers to the dance itself, which is a frequently, and mistakenly thought of as a subset of Tango movement, and this is an error. Milonga (not Milonga Porteña or Modern Milonga) begat Tango, and from that Tango as we think of it today grew.

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So what is 'Social' Milonga ? Social Milonga is a Milonga of ease, of least resistance, of effortlessness. It's what we would dance at the Milonga when Milonga music is played but for a social environment not a performance! Which translates to smaller (very small) movements, and steps. This isn't about turns, ganchos, volcadas, sacadas, colgadas, death drops, .... no, none of that. Simple, clean, small movement. Rather it's about linear movements with one's partner in either close or open embrace (yes Milonga can be done in open embrace), small linear movements that move down the line of dance. Social Milonga should not back up against the line of dance, but rather angle against the line of dance, think of 45º angles so that no one backs up directly into another couple. Social Milonga is small, compact, and doesn't need to take up a whole lot of space...ever.  Horacio Godoy, who is a god of Milonga, is a good example of performance milonga, but it's still a performance! What he's doing is nothing short of magical, however...it should be noted that again, it's a performance and not social dancing. He's taking up oodles of space, and in the line of dance, you don't have oodles of space! This is Social Milonga.  

Just as a side note: Social Milonga rightfully should never be attempted with a new partner that you've never danced with before.

 

From a Leading Perspective, it means that you must have mastered all of the things listed above in addition to understanding and employing 'intention' because Milonga is all about the small, the tiny movements. It's not about big, galloping steps...it can be, but isn't. It's about the tiny movements between the partners to the accents in the music. However the real key to milonga is the weight change. Being able to generate it in it's myriad of forms without pushing, pulling, or using force or compression. If you can lead a weight change through opposition or a with-weight change instead of pushing or pulling, you're onto a better class of leading as a whole.

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From a Following Perspective, you're in for a rough ride, because a good portion of your leads don't have a frakkin' clue as to what they're doing when it comes to Milonga. They will either race you around the floor and take a breather in odd places that have no relationship to anything that's happening in the music, all the while squeezing the living daylights out of you, hoping you won't notice that they're not anywhere close to a beat that has any relation to anything that's happening in the music. Or they're so timid as to not wanting to step on your toes because they've recognized that this is insanely difficult that they back off completely. That's the bulk of your experience. It's rare, ever so rare that you have a lead that dances Milonga Lisa with you, and then expands that to Milonga con Traspie, and actually builds a milonga experience on the whole. These leads are rare, but oh such a wonder when you find one. It's like christmas morning, easter day, and a box of chocolates all rolled into one! Fab! At the same time, let's not kid ourselves...you as the Follower, have to be up for the challenge. Which is to say that your skills in Forward steps, Side Steps, and Back Steps must be absolutely spot on! Repeat after me: "I MOVE ME". You must be responsible for your own movement. You must listen to what is being led (not waiting but listening) and then engage that movement immediately without fail. If you feel it, you go there, if you don't feel it, you don't go there. A good portion of the time, most followers fail these most basic things. And we end up with a less than desirable experience. 

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From a Dancing Perspective, 'Social' Milonga is insanely difficult to master. It requires all of the above to 'work', to 'function' with ease. Not an easy task at all. When done properly it's simply divine. When done poorly...well we've all had that happen, and it's just an absolute disaster. There's no nice way to put that. More often than not we have all had far too many Milonga tandas that is nothing short of "GAWD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!". And a good portion of the time it's because the embrace needs to be reset and is too restrictive, and/or the Lead (person), needs to actually listen to the beat and then walk (see ? walking, not running) the Follower on that beat...but doesn't.

The Musical Prerequisite

There is an absolute prerequisite to this milonga business – two things about Tango Music as whole that you, as a Lead, or a Follower must know: 

a.) The Musical Pause in Tango Music as a whole! Without understanding this, you’re kinda screwed when it comes to dancing and really milonga as a whole. Oh and if you're thinking that you can just ‘count’ beats and that will get you to your pauses...no. Fully 40% of Tango music does not contain an 8 count beat. Sometimes its a derivative of 4 yes...but sometimes it's 4,8,12,16, or 24 beats before you hit an actual rest. So counting is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged. Why ? Because a good portion of the time, your count will be off for a variety of reasons. 1.) The transfer from shellac to digital (assuming it's that direct and it almost never is) is probably flawed, scratchy, crackly, and slows down and speeds up. and 2.) Two words for you -- TANGO MILONGA, which is to say that that the 2/4 time signature that you're used to hearing in Milonga Porteña (or Modern Milonga), not so much with that! And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Long story short, you want to actually learn to hear the 5 Major Types of Pauses in Tango Music.

b.) The Rhythm of Milonga which should not be confused with beat, melody, nor tempo, which is what a lot of you do.

To understand the Rhythm of Milonga, rather than show you charts and images which are about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine...let's skip to a class summary by Oliver Koklier and Silvina Valz shot at the 2009 Portland Tango Festival. This is probably one of the best didactic Milonga videos you will need to see...ever. What Oliver & Silvina talk about in under 9 minutes will blow your mind. It's a simple, clean, and clear didactic explanation of what Milonga Rhythm is and is not. Quite honestly contained within this video is the basis of almost everything you need to know about a Milonga Rhythm. Once you understand the Rhythm of Milonga (and it is a rhythm, not a beat!) it is only then that we start to talk about what you actually do with it. 

4 Parts of Social Milonga

Part 1.) The Baldosa Box & It’s Multiple variations.
Part 2.) Milonga Traspie and the many many variations
Part 3.) Scissor & Pendulum steps and variations.
Part 4.) Milonga Patter (Circular & Linear)!

While this is not the whole of Milonga vocabulary, it is the bulk of what you will spend your time doing from a movement perspective. The trick is to put it to a Milonga Rhythm and a good way to do this is to employ Milonga Lisa as a starting point!

Extensions

Extensions

Quite honestly we spend a good portion of our time walking and turning that we forget that that walk is really four phases, not a singular element. 4 phases ?

The 1st - The Explosion Phase.
The 2nd - The Extension Phase.
The 3rd - Perihelion Phase.
And the 4th - Transfer Phase.

From a Leading perspective, realistically modern tango turns A LOT, and because this is a defacto of the dance today, quite honestly we get a little tired of any of the 8 varieties of turns. There are only so many turns that one can do in the course of a dance. There are other options. Timing for one is an option, changing from normal time to half time, or double timing a turn (talk about wearing the Follower out), or going OFF Beat, or playing with just the singer...those are all perfectly valid options and do provide a fair amount of extensibility to the 8 turn options. Mathematically speaking, we're looking at 5 possible options for each turn type or 40 different varieties of turns in time to the music.

From a Following Perspective, realistically about 2 turns in and we're done. Seriously! You wanted to dance, not become part of a Whirling Dervish Display. Some Leads have absolutely zero clue that along about the 2nd molinete you're done! You've had enough. Seemingly that turn is all they know...they don't see the other 7 turn types as valid. They only see the 'Sexy' over rotated one! Because that's the cool one. And you're visiting the chiropractor the next morning because they squeezed the life blood out of your back! Ppphhhhht! ENOUGH!

There is another option: Extension, Disassociation, or Weight Change play. In simple terms it's using the Follower's Extensions as musical Elements! Or Disassocations, or Weight Changes. Or for that matter the Lead's! Adding in this option turns that 40 variations into 200 available options! And that's without adding the Incremental Step, or Tango Patter (Circular or Linear) into the equation.

Playing with these options can, as you can see (mathematically speaking), change things from a Leading perspective from a the same ol' same ol' to something a bit more dynamic. The attached video only shows a small portion of this applied to the Golden Nugget of Tango. However, the same ideas and concepts can be translated across your dance! Check out Golden Nugget Extensions, and while you're at it, check out the Golden Nugget. You might learn something in the process. ©Tango Topics.

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Tango Articulation – Tango Topics

Tango Articulation

(Article Updated: 09/17) The moment you hear the word "Articulation" you’re going to say to yourself, “What the frak does that have to do with Argentine Tango ?”. And you’d be right to ask that question. That’s because this word isn’t necessarily related to Tango all that much, if ever. It’s a Tango Topics term. When we hear the word we’re more than likely to think of its literal iteration, “the formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech. The act of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type. The act or manner of uttering a speech sound, especially a consonant”. However, if you’re a music geek, the word has another meaning, “The clarity in the production of successive notes”. In either case, neither of those two definitions have anything to do with Articulation from a Tango Perspective.

What is Tango Articulation ? Articulation and Tango Articulation are the same things, just one is from a Tango perspective: Tango Articulation is a state where by the movement of one’s body parts, specifically the extremities of feet, legs, arms, and hands, create sharp and detailed lines that accentuate the form of the body in relationship to the pleasing and iconic shape of the couple in the embrace. The idea of ‘Articulation’ could mean, but is not limited to, pointing the toes, pointing the foot, generating a horizontal line with the arm around and across the back of your partner, raising of the head and pulling the head backwards towards the spinal column, the elbows, elongating the spinal column….all of these can be ‘Articulation’. Articulation is an accentuation of the form to detail the lines or shape of the dancers at all points along a movement, and in long form, the dance. To be aware of that movement and to create clean, clear, sharp lines of those shapes. So in essence the original English dictionary definition of this word isn’t that far off. Further one might start to think of this particular topic as 'Posture'. Posture is only one place where Articulation can occur. It's everywhere, toes, feet, legs, arms, hands, head but not necessarily the 'trunk' of the body. In the video above, Articulation is only viewed from the perspective of the feet and toes at first and then later legs. While it's good focus on feet in this instance, that's not the only place where Articulation can and should occur! 

For a lot of dancers Tango Articulation is a very foreign idea to a certain extent. And that’s because the moment the some people see it, and truly understand it for what it is, it’s very possible that those people will see it as ‘perfectionism’ and/or 'performance' Tango. Yes, it is ‘detailed’ work and for some people, it’s just too much work for them, and this topic is unimportant minutiae. The dance is about 'fun' for them, and this is not 'fun', it's work. From their perspective, Articulation is too difficult, an effort to remember (true to a point), hard to practice (lie), not important (another lie), and hard to do (another lie). Yet, at the same time, Articulation is what sets the better dancer apart from the dancer that views this stuff as 'work'. 

Difficulty Rating: 0.5 Stars0.5 / 5

From a Following perspective Articulation of one's feet is what factually defines the elegance that is looked at in ochos, molinetes, crosses, adornments/embellishments. The more that a Follower Articulates, the more the Follower 'sells the shoes’ as it were, and the move, and in a larger sense...the couple! And by 'sell', meaning that the visual presentation is seen as very desirable. Whether or not it’s ‘pleasurable’ is a different story all together.

To be clear, Articulation is not something you’re going to come to on your own. It requires that you have some awareness of what you’re doing and why and that means being exposed to a teacher who can and should point these things out to you...religiously! Just watching this video is NOT enough! You must be kept after, constantly. Why ? Because you’ll slip back to doing what’s comfortable for you.

This is NOT easy work. It’s not like you’ll spend 45 minutes in a class or workshop and then you’ve “got” it. NOT going to happen. This is blistering amounts of detailed work, every day for weeks, if not (depending on your age, and personal work ethic) months on end. You are going to suck at this stuff at first. And then later on, ‘poco a poco’. A little bit at a time...

Going a little deeper, once you start paying attention to this stuff, you’re going to start seeing this stuff EVERYWHERE! Everywhere in others at first, and then later on in you. And so that we're clear about this, generally not in a good way either. You'll notice that a good portion of the people that dance around you are generating a 'sloppiness' in their Articulations. While this may seem like pointing at other people's flaws, it's a good exercise for you so that you can see all the places where this stuff occurs, and it occurs a lot!

The humbling point: Once you think you’ve got a handle on Articulation in yourself, you’ll see that you don’t. How’s that ? This is about learned behavior, and about you unlearning what you have learned and replacing that with a more visually desirable end result. In many ways this is like editing your own words that you’ve written, words that you’ve fallen in love with...and you can’t bear to part with. However you have to in order to make the overall point of your words much better, cleaner, sharper, and on point!

From a Leading perspective it’s easy to dismiss this topic as solely a Follower issue, especially given the video above. That would be unwise. Articulation matters to you as well.

Articulation defines the presentation of the Follower's movements.

Everywhere.

Why ? While the Lead is leading, they're quite literally, if not actually, pointing at something the Follower is doing the entire time. For you, as the Lead, your whole thing is about presenting the Follower. The more that you present the Follower, the more people see the couple! The current line of thinking for most Leads is that 'Presenting the Follower' means adding oodles of vocabulary (sacadas, colgadas, volcadas, ganchos, boleos, etc) ... and while these things have their place, usually these things are poorly executed (sloppy), and ill timed, and so we do not want to use them. Instead we want to add these things as accent, or ‘spice’ to the meal! And the meal is ? Less vocabulary and focusing on the 5 Basics of Social Tango. In short this means: 1.) Walking. 2.) Milonguero Ochos or Traveling Ochos. 3.) Milonguero Turns or Follower’s Molinete. 4.) Crosses & Cortados. and most importantly 5.) Dancing to the Pauses, and Accentuating the Musical Phrase!

The Lead has an incredible responsibility here, and that’s to Articulate wherever possible to accentuate the Follower’s execution, everywhere. However this is typically NOT what happens.

Putting this as simply as is possible: Articulation is not a role issue. It’s a dancer issue. So regardless of whether you dance one role predominantly or not, you still must articulate everywhere.

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through this stuff. So this is one reason why you want access to these video, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique. 

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

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THUD!

THUD!

It doesn't matter if you're a Lead, or a Follower, we all at some point have to learn how to walk properly and for a good portion of us learning that proper walk is either an absolute joy, or such a pain in the ass that you wonder why you're still dancing tango in the first place!

One aspect of learning to walk properly is learning what not to do. Unfortunately for a greater number of teachers, and dancers, the idea of feedback is relegated to "That's nice" and "Try this instead". Instead of detailed questions and inquiry that will ultimately lead to you not sucking anymore...well for another 4 steps until you go back to what you were doing because you're not aware of your issues going forward.

Still another aspect of learning to walk properly is the dreaded "THUD". What's that ? It's the sound your foot makes when it impacts the floor in either a forward, side, or back step.

From a Following perspective, usually the lead will feel the impact of your foot hitting the floor, more than you will his unless the lead is clearly unaware of his own presence (that happens). As Followers we usually feel this impact of the Lead's step forward walking step. We feel it as a drive into us, and it's usually a drive into the floor and as a result we get driven into the floor. It's not desirable, and after a few L/leads like this, your feet start to hurt. It's not pretty. At the same time, we as follower's tend to create 'thud' when we don't realize that we're bending our knee as we extend backwards, and we tend to allow our foot to come off the floor. This is not desirable. We want to 'lick' the floor with our foot as we extend backwards

From a Leading perspective, we feel the impact of the Follower's foot on the floor, as a heavy step usually on their side and back steps. While at the same time we as L/leads must realize that we can generate a heavy impacted step as well. In short, there's merit to the statement 'walk softly'. 

To be clear: "THUD" is an uncontrolled, unsightly, and ungainly foot placement which results in a heavy step and we generally feel the impact of that step which reverberates up through the ankle, then the knees, the legs to the hips, up along the spinal column, and then out through the arms in the embrace which is then transmitted to your partner! Combine this with hanging, pulling, pushing, and the general contortion that goes on for a lot of people and you've got issues on top of issues on top of issues. 

Tango Music

Tango Music

When I started out, someone said to me "You must learn the music!". I looked at my music library and I just wilted! The mere thought of actually studying that thing was seemingly vast (6000 songs)...mind boggling! 10 songs in, and an hour later, Zzzzzz, snore, zzzz. What was I supposed to 'study' ? Memorize note for note ? The titles ? Oye!!!

Like most people I just wanted to know how to dance the correct steps, and make my partners happy. Music ? Just arcane goobly-gook! The only thing that mattered ? Do this, that, and then I was dancing! Then one day I saw video of myself dancing. Everyone else looked amazing! Me ? Just...awful!

Careful study & conversation revealed that I was not 'Interpreting The Music'. I was doing what most dancers do: Cabeceo/mirada, embrace, do this, that, more of this, less of that, try not to run into anyone, song ends, smile, repeat to the end of the tanda. Repeat until to the end of Milonga. If there's no blood and everyone is still speaking to you, you had a good night! 🙂 Dancing right ?

That didn't satisfy. I started a daily process of orchestral study, the lead (Di Sarli, Canaro, etc), the singer, reading, listening, and trying to figure it out. Did this educate me about the music ? To a degree but it did NOT change my dance.

I discovered 'Musicality' workshops. I went to about 20 or so. Over time I saw the same method being repeated. 30 minutes of a being taught a step, a few partner rotations, trying to apply it to a very specific part of a song. Step here, there, pause, start again! The problem ? What was I supposed to do with the rest of the song ? The tanda ? The milonga ? Arrrrgh!!!! Talk about frustration!!!!

I was no closer to learning what I needed to know and I felt lost. Fast forward to today and let's just say that I can interpret any orchestra, any style, any song WITHOUT knowing it, WITHOUT counting beats, and most of all WITHOUT ever having heard it before!

What changed ?

Purely by chance I made a discovery, ran head long into it actually. I wondered why no one else had mentioned it or taught it before. This was something so amazingly awesome that it quite literally slapped me in the face...hard! It took about a month of trial an error but my dance changed, radically! I then set about expanding the idea, testing it, playing with it, challenging myself to make it fail! It didn't. 5000 songs later, 8 different musical styles, 18+ orchestral leads, and about 5 years of students who have tried the method, and I can safely say....it works!'

Click on the image below and subscribe for gold+ membership today!
You'll get access to over 1000 songs, and a way to hear the music that is shockingly simple and at the same time, infinitely complex. 

Sacada Foundations

Sacada Foundations

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the Tango Sacada is a very amazing piece of tango vocabulary. The first time I saw one, I did what most people do -- "Wow!! That's really cool!!!". And then I went about trying to learn them. "Trying" being the operative word.

For most Leads, the Sacada represents a graduation in a sense of "cool", yes, but also that next level, the next chapter of their tango development. One accomplishment on a road to a series of accomplishments, this is the first of this class of accomplishments that says, "Cool".

For most Followers, oddly enough, it's the polar opposite of "Cool". It's "Did I get it right ?". Their only concern is not the coolness factor but rather did they miss anything ? Did they 'hear' (feel) the lead properly ? Was their foot in the right place ? Their leg ? Are they hanging on their Lead ? Was their leg supposed to do that ? "Oops I'm sorry" an oft repeated apology for doing what they were led to do (see Truism #893. Vol. 3). All hoping that it was right and that they didn't hurt anyone, and in the end hoping that their Lead will still want to dance with them...in the beginning. Later on, as they improve, hoping that said Lead WON'T dance with them! But that is a topic for another time.

There are two immutable facts about every single Sacada known to man: 1.) The Sacada is an illusion! 2.) They're in the the family of displacements. It's the 2nd one that we're interested in the most because this part usually fails in the Lead's understanding and execution of exactly what it is that they're trying to do. I failed at this constantly, in the beginning, failing to see this most intrinsic element that not one of my 98 teachers told me about. Not one.

When learning to Follow, I realized that the Sacada is, was nothing more than my body wanting to take the place of the Lead's body. It just so happened that my leg would naturally want to go away from my lead because of their invasion - hence the displacement part. Proper Tango Technique taught me to do something else with that leg than just let it fly away, potentially hurting someone with my 3 inch heels!

Good thing you have access to a video that discusses all of these things in lurid detail in Sacada Foundations for both Lead and Follow, especially the proper Follower Technique part. In 7 minutes and 8 seconds you'll learn everything you need to know about the foundation of every sacada known to man and beast. 🙂 All in HD quality with good clear sound and close ups of every aspect of importance. Plus a free preview of Back Sacada technique for both Lead and Follow. Buy it here.