The Argentine Media Luna
In Buenos Aires there is a type of pastry that will blow your mind which is freshly made, hot, and right out of the oven (especially at La Viruta at 5 am - they buy theirs from a local panaderia, con Café con Leche). Truthfully they’re almost like heaven. They’re also insidious, fiendish really, as you can’t have just one! Nooooo. You must have a whole bag of them! No matter how strong your willpower is, trust that you will have several of them, several times a week, and go to your local panaderia (bakery) and you’ll pick them out yourself, and then go to pay for them with a gleeful smile, knowing what’s in the bag! You won’t be able to make it all the way to the front step of your apartment without having one, maybe 3! These pieces of delight are called ‘Medialunas’ and they’re like Crack Cocaine because of their addictive quality! They’re lightly sweet, incredibly fluffy, and soft to the touch…sort of like a croissant but better, muuuuuuch better and oh so delicioso!
Frequently for the Tango dancer they’ll hear this word and think of the pastry. There is however a piece of Tango vocabulary that has nothing to do with the pasty that causes a bit of confusion, and that’s the Argentine Media Luna, and obviously they’re not the same things. One is a pastry and the other…well, the other is one of the 9 types of common turns that we find in Argentine Tango. The 9 Types ? 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Calecitas (coming soon). 6.) Walking Turns. 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. There’s one more that doesn’t get used a whole lot and the subject of Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Media Luna.
What is an Argentine Media Luna ? The words, “Media” & “Luna” when translated from their Spanish to English cognates, translate as “Half” & “Moon” or in this case, “Half Turn”. It is exactly what it sounds like but with a Tango twist. In many ways it resembles the Follower’s Molinete. And if you don’t know any better, you could swear that they’re exactly the same. On paper, meaning technically, they consist of the same basic moves, with one major difference: In the case of the Follower’s Molinete, there’s Applied Disassociation on the Back and Forward steps. In the case of the Argentine Media Luna, there is no Disassociation or Applied Disassociation from the Follower!
The Media Luna is used primarily as one way of turning the couple. Not necessarily the Follower, but the couple, down the line of dance. It is frequently used as a stepping stone or entry point to executing something else, as there are many options out of the Media Luna. However in it’s base form it can and should be used to as a navigational element. It’s also, because of its lack of use, a nice surprise to the Follower and a bit of a change up from the same Follower’s Molinete to the Open Side of the Embrace OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again! So quite rightfully, this is a great turn to add to your repertoire from a Leading perspective AS WELL AS from a Following perspective.
Difficulty Rating: 2.5 / 5
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From A Following Perspective the Argentine Media Luna is ‘back’, ‘side’, and ‘forward’ for you. This is not rocket science. It’s tango. By now you’ve done these 3 steps so many times, you’re beginning to wonder if there’s some thing you are missing with this whole ‘walking’ business, yes ? In this case, no you’re not missing anything but there are some things about the Media Luna you want to be aware of, or at least conscious of. Four things (below) that you want to be conscious or aware of going into one. To be fair, 9 times out of 10 with this vocabulary stuff, you’re not going to know what’s being done to you, you’re just thankful that you’re not screwing up. Right ? Every once in a while you have a flash of awareness of “oh that was a….” and you’ve done them before and hopefully you got it right. But in the case of the Media Luna, this is familiar territory for you so you really can focus on the minutiae to make this is a very desirable half-turn, very desirable.
A few things to be conscious of:
1.) Your Back Step. The funny thing about this is that your back step wants to be linear. However that’s not what’s going to happen. What will occur is because the lead is stepping outside partner, typically to your right (on the open side of the embrace), you’re going to ‘follow’ that, and that means stepping backwards across your body meridian. This is an error for you as well as of the Lead (see lead section below). This is probably the single biggest error you can make with the Media Luna. Put simply while this is classified as a turn, it’s more of a box more than anything else. And it being a box we’d like to hold that box like shape and not turn it into a circular. Now there are people that will argue with that statement, that because it’s a turn it ‘should’ … well ‘turn’. And that’s not the case here. There’s a reason why this thing has structure to it. It is different in name and structure from your Molinete, and this is it right here: The linear stepping pattern!
2.) No Disassociation - None! There is absolutely ZERO disassociation and applied disassociation here in any way, shape, or form. You are however, near the end of this thing (on your forward step), come to resolution to face your lead. There will be a rotation at that point, but it is non-disassociative. It can be, but that’s entirely your choice. However, doing so, will slow the ‘turn’ down a bit, thereby creating lag.
3.) The Weight Change. This is a Media Luna, meaning you’re not going to go all the way around your lead, just half way. And as such, more than likely your lead will invoke a second Media Luna to get back to their line of dance. And that means you as the Follower need to be paying attention to the necessary weight change that happens between the Media Lunas! Without it, you’ll end up in the wrong place and on the wrong foot and wonder what the frak happened.
4.) No Ocho, No Molinete. You’ve been led to Traveling Ochos (Back) so often that they’re second nature to you by now. Further still, you’ve been led your Molinete since the moment go of when you started dancing. And as that is the case by now you have a built in default behaviors that you’re going to respond to X with an Ocho, or Y with a Follower’s Molinete without necessarily thinking about it. In this particular instance, of the Argentine Media Luna, you can’t do that. You absolutely MUST, must, must be aware that what’s being asked of you are linear steps and NOT disassociation and applied disassociation (what you erroneously think of as a ‘pivot’), these are linear steps, meaning straight lines in box step format away from (back), across (side), and towards (forward) your lead.
One More Thing. This is not hard stuff for you. It really isn’t. The devil here is in the details. And one detail that you want to pay attention to is where you’re going to end up. And more than likely (as shown in the complete video), you’re going to end up in your lead’s armpit. And if you’ve been paying attention to this website, you’ll note how the Arm Pit is not desirable place for the Follower to be. But that’s exactly what happens, and we don’t want to be there, at all…ever. At the same time, there is a solution for this problem. Two actually. The first solution has to do with your side step, something has to change about it (see completed video for this - only a subscriber can see the completed video solution). And the second has to do with how and where you place your forward step. While these two things, might seem logical once you see them, but thinking about them will cause you some consternation.
From a Leading Perspective let’s be absolutely clear about something: This is NOT a Molinete. Not by any stretch of the imagination. You are not leading the Follower’s Molinete. You are not leading a ‘turn’ per se. You are essentially leading a ‘box’. You are asking the Follower to take a series of linear steps, and quite honestly YOU are the one that is turning. They’re stepping in a linear, straight lines, while you rotate to create the ‘turning’ aspect of the ‘turn’. Are we clear ?
Frequently the Media Luna creates a bit of confusion for a variety of reasons because the common go to turn for so many dancers these days is the Follower’s Molinete, so you’re going to get some default Molinetes, if not Ochos, the first couple of times you attempt to lead these.
There are a few reasons why this may occur, one of them is that you are not clear in what you’re leading. You may think you are, but trust that you’re not. If the Follower doesn’t respond as intended, then you know what ? You’re not being clear. Far too often leads have a vague idea in their minds of what they’d like to do, but in actuality they’re very vague in their execution so the Follower has to ‘infer’ what’s being asked of them. At the same time, on the opposite end of the spectrum (and to be clear what’s about to be described is not endorsed by Tango Topics at all, nor a disparagement of someone’s dancing, but it appears that this is generally how a lot of you folks ‘like’ to dance), you’ll have Leads that solve this problem of not being clear by using their arms to force the Follower to do what’s being asked of them. Neither of these things are desirable. The way to solve this problem is obvious, but it’s not something you would generally think of. In the case of the unclear lead that’s asking for X, the solution is to focus on directional information of where they’re sending their intention and to focus on the incremental. Nice words, but not all that helpful. One way that you can translate that statement of how to solve the problem is to treat not just a Media Luna but nearly every step that you lead as an opportunity to see if you can lead a step with exacting and ever increasing incremental precision! A little to the left, a little to the right, a little bit away, and a little bit towards. Shallow, long, whatever. Learn to lead this stuff in the minimal AS well as the extreme ends of the step. It’s good practice. In the case of the forceful lead, better known as Mr. Arm-y, it’s to stop using their arms, and focus on leading intention as in Intention Based Dancing.
And now a few things you need to be aware of:
1.) Stepping Outside Partner. This is a series of linear steps as stated above and as such we want to create a box like pattern of steps with what the Follower is being asked to do. So therefore we have to be equally clear and clean about what we’re asking from the Follower. In this instance of the opening step of the Media Luna, we’re going to want to step outside partner forcing the Follower to respond by stepping across their body meridian to stay in front of us, which in turn creates an undesirable side effect: It moves the couple askew from each other! And the further that the Follower steps across their body meridian the more that untenable that the Media Luna becomes! So instead, we want to lead the Follower to a linear step away from us!
2.) Your Rotation. You are the one that’s rotating here, not the Follower. The Follower is moving in linear fashion, straight lines, ‘around’ you…what you could loosely call a ‘revolving’ as to create a box around their lead. However, you, as the lead, are rotating within that box. And as such you are going to employ a number of toys to do this. One of them, is disassociation! Still another is you’re going to employ applied disassociation (again, what you erroneously think of as a ‘pivot’, it’s not in this case) especially on the resolution forward step. There’s a certain amount of bodily rotation that’s going to happen, and if you want to make this clear, clean, and kinda cool, you can employ a bit of applied disassociation giving the appearance of lead lag. As a result of that lag, what can happen is a series of lead back crosses, as well as super enrosques!
3.) Going Against The Line. The ending of the vocabulary is the Follower’s Forward step. That ending point is going to place you going AGAINST the line of dance. This is obviously NOT desirable. So it is at this point you have a choice to make, either to do something else to get you back in the line of dance, going in the proper direction, perhaps a series of Rock Steps ? (NOT BLOODLY LIKELY!!!!!!) No. You’re going to employ as 2nd Media Luna!
One More Thing. Let’s be clear about something, and while this isn’t necessarily just about the Media Luna, it’s more about what happens with every piece of Tango vocabulary for a lot of leads: This is your issue, not theirs. Read that again. You are responsible for what and how the Follower executes, if you’re not clear, they’re not going to clear. They are a the reflection of what’s in your mind. So if you step outside partner in the way that’s described above, then don’t blame them for what they did, you led it! Which also leads to another thing that happens frequently the Follower apologizes for your mistake. Wait, if you led it, what are they apologizing for ? For not reading your mind ? Seriously ? Dude. Man up! Take responsibility for what you created, instead of letting that apology stand.
From a Dancing Perspective the Argentine Media Luna as has been said an under used turn. And ‘turn’ is not exactly the right word here. While the L/lead is turning (rotating really) the Follower isn’t doing that at all. So it’s a misnomer that creates some level of confusion. Because it’s under used it has the quality of being a ‘surprise’ when put into the context of the dance. Any lead that adds this to their repertoire will get instant points for variety, and instant points for variation on a theme. Any Follower that follows the implications of them will get the same browny points for being a diligent and aware Follower! Truthfully the Media Luna turn is a very, very cool piece of vocabulary, it allows for a lot of options (see soup section below) and opportunities to create other ideas. It can be a great stepping stone to other ideas. From a musical perspective it’s perfect for Vals, because it adheres to a 3 step pattern! It’s great in Milonga as well because of it’s linear nature, although truthfully it does require a tiny modification (see the soup section below for that…oh wait, you’re not a subscriber. Only a subscriber, can see that part). It’s also great in Tango. Basically it’s great musically anywhere, slow, fast, long stringy notes, short and choppy 8th or 16th notes….it’s perfect everywhere! It’s just such a pity that its just so under used. 🙁
About The Video. This video comes in at 15m:16s in length in 11 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.
Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:25
Section 2 - The Vocabulary - 00:01:43
Section 3 - The Turning Component - 00:00:45
Section 4 - The 2nd Media Luna - 00:01:13
Section 5 - Without The Lead Back Step - 00:00:37
Section 6 - With The ‘Embrace’ - 00:01:15
Section 7 - The Close Embrace Version - 00:01:14
Section 8 - Media Luna Examples - 00:02:55
Section 9 - The Dark Side Media Luna - 00:02:18
Section 10 - The Shorter Side Step - 00:00:37 (edited version in the sample)
Section 11 - The Dark Side Solution/Wrap Up - 00:01:03
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