The word ‘parada’ translates into English as ‘stopped’. And that’s exactly what it is. A stop. From a Tango perspective this is a well worn piece of tango vocabulary that most people see as an element towards engaging the illusion of ‘intimacy’ of the dance, or it’s ‘steamy’ aspects. Anyone inside the dance knows that the ‘steamy’ thing is just that, an illusion, and that there’s real work to be done to make this venerable piece of tango vocabulary useful and musical. The vocabulary gets its name from the fact that we are stopping but it’s an unusual stop. It’s a stop not because you’re stopping the Lead’s motion, but in fact stopping the Follower’s motion. It’s more of an interruption really, because the ‘stop’ is momentary. With that thought in mind, let’s talk “Paradas”, what they are and how they’re useful for both roles of the dance.
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From A Following Perspective, the parada is going to confuse you the first couple of times you dance them, as in “WTF do you do with that ?”. The common thinking is why put something in your way when you’re trying to dance ? Because it gives the Follower another opportunity to show off their walking skills. How they walk, and making that walk just as effing cool as possible. Mind you it’s one step, but that step is usually enough for most people to lose their proverbial minds. Still another gives the Follower the ability to show off a series of possible embellishments that they wouldn’t ordinarily get to show off, rulos & planeos come to mind. And still one more, believe it or not, the Parada is the gateway towards the role of the Active Follower for a very important reason which we’ll get to in a moment.
So let’s deal with the first part of this, the obvious confusion part: There’s a leg in your way. What do you do with it ? Hmmmm there are several things you do with it, and that’s what today’s video is all about. It shows you a few of the more common possibilities with the Parada from the Follower’s perspective. 1.) There’s what you can do before the Parada. 2.) What you can do with the Parada (the leg in the way part). 3.) What you can do during the Parada. and 4.) What you can do after the Parada. One of the more common things that you will see on a social dance floor is the Follower brushing the Lead’s leg with their foot and ankle, and this is just one possibility of what you can do WITH the Parada, but is by no means the only thing as indicated above. This video shows 8 different possibilities that you can engage going forward with a few that you probably haven’t seen before.
The sad truth: A good portion of Followers throw away the Parada. It’s like a ‘Jesus! Really ? Do I have to’ moment. They see it as a ‘just’ stepping over the lead’s leg. When it fact it’s much, much more than that. Then, because they don’t see the importance of stepping over their lead’s leg, then they shorten the step afterwards which creates a few more problems for themselves. What they don’t realize is that they have a golden opportunity to control what the Lead is doing, and where the Lead goes to and from, from the moment the Parada starts to the moment it ends! This is why the Parada is the gateway to the Role of the Active Follower. Why ? Because the Lead is quite literally ‘waiting’ for the Follower to execute the Parada, not only that but they’re in this extremely vulnerable position that put them at a complete disadvantage. And that disadvantage is your advantage. Because at the moment the Parada is executed the Follower controls what is done, how it’s done, when it’s done, and most important where it’s done! In short, the Follower holds all the cards at that moment in time. Truthfully the Follower holds all the cards to begin with, but the way Tango is taught these days, you’d never know it. It’s one of the more dirty little secrets to Argentine Tango that no one acknowledges or talks about - If there’s no Follower, there’s no dance!
So instead of seeing it as an obstacle in your way, you could see it as an opportunity to show off your mad presentation skills of how you extend your leg, how you hear the music and then use that to ‘play’ with the music within the Parada (this is part of the role of the active follower), how you place your foot on the floor! While this may be ONE step, it’s one IMPORTANT step that you want show off to your lead. In a lot of ways this is like the Follower’s back step, or a Follower’s Circular Boleo only in reverse that it has the potential to really make your skills shine.
To be fair, a good portion of the Lead’s that you’ll dance with during your lifetime as a Follower will unfortunately make the Parada very, very difficult for you. Why ? 2 reasons. 1.) They’re going to squeeze you to death with the right arm thereby making any movement nearly impossible. 2.) They’re going to rush through the whole thing and then to add insult to injury, execute it poorly so you have to fix it and try to make it presentable.
From a Leading Perspective, the Parada is a stop, where you extend your leg to stop their forward (back or side - didn’t think of that one did you ?) motion. The video goes into how to construct a Parada using the common Forward step or Forward Ocho. The Parada can be used as a navigation element or an instrument of Floorcraft. It can be used as a ‘vamping’ until the couple ahead of you starts moving again, it can be used as a door way to entering and/or exiting close embrace, it can be used as entry to other pieces of social tango vocabulary (ganchos, sacadas, barridas, soltadas, crosses, colgadas, rulos, and a few planeos come to mind).
For a lot of you reading about Paradas and seeing them done, they look really easy to do. Looks are deceiving. The fact is that in order to make the Parada is effortless as it seems they are (they’re not). Several things have to take place in you. One is that you must master your own stability. Still another is that your posture must be spot on. And one more (out of many), probably the most important – your embrace must be non-compressive, it can not constrain the Follower in any way, shape or form! Today’s video goes into a bit of detail in 30 minutes on how to generate the Parada but not the Foundation of the Parada which is your posture, walk, and embrace. For that stuff you’d actually have to see the rest of the library. The video bypasses this stuff, and already assumes that you have mastered these skills, and just gets to the heart of showing you the Parada foundation and then expands on it. However, don’t make the mistake that so many leads make. That if you just know the vocabulary that will solve everything. No. You can’t. You must, rightfully, ‘create’ the underlaying foundation before you can do anything else. This is another dirty little secret of how Argentine Tango is taught in group classes. Nobody tells you this stuff, that the foundation is absolutely crucial to your dancing skills. And so that we’re clear here, foundation, is not a series of steps and patterns. No. Foundation in this case is your posture, your walk, and your embrace.
Full disclosure about Paradas – You’re not in control. A good portion of you reading this will not believe my words, a few of you will not understand them, and further still more than a few will completely ignore this statement as ‘bullshit’. I got news for you, no matter how you slice it, in this one instance – you’re not in control, and truthfully if we extend things a bit further, you’ve never been in control. The dance is an illusion of male masculinity over the follower. Note the word there ‘illusion’. The fact is that you have no more control over the Follower than you do over the wind. The reality is that the Follower is going along for the ride because they want to, not because they have to. They like the ride. Your job ? Is to make that ride interesting, fun, engaging, delightful, full of surprises, while at the same time, making it musical, clean, clear, easeful, effortless, without pulling, pushing, or compressing the frak out of them, all the while guiding (that’s what leading is my friend - guiding) the Follower towards a pleasant experience within the music, within the line of dance. To, in effect, show them off, not the other way around. The more that you show them off, the more that they dance! It’s pretty simple, but unfortunately this bit of truth is completely hidden from you and has been since day 1.
The Parada is an extension of this ideal. The Parada’s sole purpose is to show off the Follower. Nothing more than that. Don’t get it into your head that this is your cool moment to show off your mad skillz. Or that you’re showing them who’s boss. Nope. Not going to happen. The fact is that from the moment the Parada starts to the moment it ends, they are in complete control over what, when, where, and how X, Y, and Z is done. And the sooner that you understand this, the better.
That said…a few Caveats for the Parada user. 1.) Don’t squeeze them. Please for the love of god. Your right arm is there as a guide post, nothing more than that. Guidance, not squeezing or compression. Think light as a feather! Anything more than skin to fabric contact and you’re making things difficult for the Follower. 2.) Don’t pull them into and thru the Parada. This stuff is hard enough without you pushing and pulling the Follower everywhere. Read these words, YOUR JOB IS A GUIDE! So ? GUIDE THE FOLLOWER. And so that we’re clear here ‘Guidance’ does not mean to force them to do anything. But to suggest, cajole, invite, propose. Got it ? 3.) Do not step on, step near, or place your foot near their toes in this case. You’re going to hurt them. 4.) Stop watching the Follower’s feet, please. There is nothing, quite literally NOTHING you need to see. This is all about proprioception - you must feel where the Follower is in space and time.
From a Dancing Perspective, the Parada looks really intimate, really sexy, and really intricate. It’s none of those things. It’s a stop and a step over. But that stop (the Lead extending their own leg in the way of the Follower), and the step over (the Follower) is quite possibly one of the coolest things since sliced bread for all the reasons pointed out above. However most of you that employ or use the Parada don’t use it in the way that can benefit both partners. Today’s video shows you a way to do exactly that, to benefit both partners to show them both off.
About The Video. This video comes in at 33m:08s in length in 13 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.
Section 1 - Introduction - 00:00:52
Section 2 - Building A Parada - 00:06:59
Section 3 - Parada Caveat - 00:00:37
Section 4 - Open Side Parada - 00:01:32
Section 5 - Closed Side Paradas - 00:00:58
Section 6 - Embrace Indicators - 00:01:24
Section 7 - Foot Awareness - 00:01:34
Section 8 - Rules for Decoration (Followers Only) - 00:01:51
Section 9 - Follower Embellishments for Paradas - 00:03:46
Section 10 - Multiple Paradas - 00:03:15
Section 11 - The Step Over - 00:04:23
Section 12 - Another Idea - 00:00:35
Section 13 - Gancho/Barrida from Parada/End - 00:04:27
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