Tango Topics | Social Dancing Tools

Lazy Follower Foot

Lazy Follower Foot. Most people don’t think about this stuff except for when they’re in a class or a Follower Technique Seminar, or in a private lesson. Mostly they hear it and completely forget about it about 10 seconds after it’s been said. That is unless some diligent teacher continually reminds you of this stuff, constantly. To be fair, while this particular topic happens a lot for Followers, this happens everywhere across the entire spectrum of the dance and into real life. If someone says something to you that needs to be corrected, it will take you a few tries to remember to do it, and even then that’s a stretch. The fact is that you’re dealing with muscle memory or in this case ‘muscle comfort’. It’s comfortable for you to do this stuff. So why change it. The reality is that the change comes hard to some people, and comfort is easy. If you’re comfortable why bother changing ? Right ? What you may not realize is that that comfort may or may not be desirable to look at, as in this case of Lazy Follower Foot.

What is ‘Lazy Follower Foot’ ? It is a state where the Follower’s back foot as it comes into collection from a Forward step, is either dragged without care or unconsciously. The foot itself, seemingly hangs off the ankle, and is summarily dragged into collection from the Forward step. This doesn’t happen from the Back or Side step, that’s the ‘Dangling’ Foot error. Whole different ball of wax, but the solution is exactly the same as shown in today’s video! 

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From a Following Perspective, if you think for a moment that you’re not doing this stuff, then either you’re blind, or consciously sticking your head in the sand, or you’re a teacher who has mastered their technique and have moved onto the solution to this problem and how to make the solution better than is shown above.

Let’s get something out of the way. The fact is that even we teachers have to constantly work on our own technique. Constantly. Just because we teach does not mean that we do not strive to make clean, make better, to improve our understanding of what we do and why. Nothing is accepted, everything is questioned, overturned, turned inside out, upside down, and right side up. Everything is examined. It must be examined. And if we’re doing that for ourselves, the question is, why aren’t you ? This isn’t about teaching really, it’s about striving to clean up these detail areas that for one reason or another, while you may not be able to fully identify it, something (or in most cases a lot of somethings) look ‘off’. And the attention to detail is absolutely necessary to addressing these issues.

To be fair some people have a hard time talking about this stuff, or even viewing it. They don’t want to, or in most cases, can’t engage in the idea of this discussion at all. They only view this stuff through the lens of performance or perfectionism, or “that’s for a teacher, that’s not real life”. Ahem. Not. It is real life, and you DO want to pay attention to the details here. This isn’t about perfection. Get that thought right out of your head. This stuff has very real world consequences, and the sooner that you realize this fact, the easier your Tango life will be. Because, as has been said in many other parts of your life, the details matter! Why wouldn’t they matter in Tango as well!

The reality is that when you’re talking about this stuff, and then you start to pull stuff apart that ‘seemingly’ worked (operative word in the sentence), you quickly realize just how many things do not actually function as you thought they did. And it’s right about that point where you are instantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what’s not working, and why, and most people throw up their hands and say “to hell with it all, why bother !?!?!?”.

Why Bother With This Stuff ? Here’s why.

There will come a night, a milonga, where the usual crowd of your usual dancers is increased by a +1. A Lead that is completely unknown to you. Said Lead has popped into your town, just passing through from somewhere on their way to somewhere else. They know no one. They find a seat, put on their shoes, and they scan the room for a few moments, and begin their process of Cabeceo.  You see them dance, and to you, they look amazing. Fabulous. They’re not like every other Lead in the room, and you find yourself wanting. Waiting for their Cabeceo when they step off the floor. They’re scanning and scanning and they pick their next partner, and the next, and the next….an hour or so goes by, and you find yourself brimming with anticipation. They scan in your direction, and they lock eyes with you. Your chance has arrived. They walk around the room to engage their Salida. And off you go. From the moment their embrace starts, you know you are in the presence of ‘better’. The embrace is light but engaged. The posture is spot on but not stiff. The stance….. and then you move. Slowly at first. And then from muscle memory. Their embrace remains … light. No matter what. They’re not rushing you. However, something is … ummm … not … quite … the glee is waring off. The newness of this dancer is replaced by questioning. They looked so perfect dancing with everyone else…but you seem to be missing things. Little things at first, and then here and there, things you can’t quite get your … “what the frak was THAT ?”….and you find your feet, and recover nicely….or so you think, and … then it happens again, and again, and again….somewhere in the back of your mind you’re wondering if anyone is watching this mess ? It’s fun to be certain but you’re certain that it’s a mess. In between the songs, this Lead is pleasant and nice, good small talk, and discussing where they’re going next. The next song starts, and the odd part is that this Lead’s embrace isn’t constrictive, or restrictive, or ‘pushy’ in any way, there’s no resistance at all. In fact, it’s what you imagine that Tango Topics talks about all the time and here it is embodied. And yet, you find that dancing with this Lead isn’t…ummm ‘nice’. It’s downright challenging. You’re missing things. Your feet are getting all tangled up, and you feel like you’re dragging your feet. They’re not saying anything, but you feel a sense of ‘Jesus H. Christ! I missed that…and that…and that….and f*ck!…”.  The tanda ends, and they walk you back to your table. They smile. You smile. And away they go. On the one hand, the dance was ‘fun’. It was certainly musical. No one that you’ve ever danced with has been that musical, and playful, and just fun to dance with. There were actual tango jokes, giggles really. But on the other hand it was way beyond you. So many things missed. So many things.

The Error In Your Thinking. The reason why this dance was challenging for you, and this is the error, is that’s just their ‘style’ of dance, and it’s not your style. Yes there is an estillo to some people’s dance, but sometimes with the more advanced dancers this isn’t about style…it’s about technique and the execution of that technique! So, put simply you’re missing the other side of the equation: You’re not ready for them! And the reason is, because your understanding of your own technique, your underlying foundation, how you move, how you land your feet, how you extend your legs, how you embrace your partners, where you place your body in relationship to your L/lead, where and how you engage X piece of vocabulary…all of that stuff is not trained in you. It’s just not. Further, because you’re dancing with a certain class of L/lead mostly you only get to experience a very small sliver of what a fully trained and operational Lead can actually do. Further still the Neurology of Following (as opposed to the Neurology of Leading) is lacking in you. So as a result you ‘miss’ things. So a Lead like that above, is mostly lost on you. Yes it’s insanely fun, and challenging, but you ‘missed’ so much and what’s worse is you know it. It wasn’t embarrassing, thank god, but you know in your heart you missed so much of what was ‘said’. You missed the nuances. The subtlety.

Diving Deep.

There is a reason this stuff happens, actually four possibilities: 1.) Poor execution of technique. 2.) Poorly understood technique.  3.) No Practice. or 4.) All of the above!

While it’s not rocket science what those things mean, they do require a bit of detail.

1.) Poor Execution. This means that your attention to detail of your technique is sloppy. Meaning that you allow your foot to unconsciously move as it sees fit to move in relation to your ankle and leg. Even though you have been shown X, it’s not showing up in your dance. Either consciously or unconsciously.

2.) Poorly Understood. This happens quite frequently. We hear ‘X’ when a teacher says something to us, and in reality they meant ‘Y’.  But because we hear it through the filter of our understanding we end up misunderstanding more often than not. Poorly understood means that you hear or see something and presume that ‘A’ is ‘A’ instead of diving deeply to dig down to the roots of what ‘A’ actually is. To see it’s inner workings. Not just to accept it, but figure out for yourself how and why something functions.

3.) No Practice. This should be a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised just how many people will go to a teacher or a class and magically expect them to fix everything, and that now that they’ve visited with teacher ‘C’ that things are all better and they can go back to what they were doing in the first place. Because teacher ‘C’ said they’re “you’re doing fine but…” and “that’s fabulous, and…”, or … did you see it ? Probably not. You missed the ‘but’/‘and’ at the ends of those sentences. You only heard the praise and not the rest! Which was… “You should go home and practice the frak out of this stuff that I just spent the better portion of the last hour showing you! Not to mention you just handed me a boatload of cash to tell you this stuff, so you had damned well better go home and practice this stuff!!”.

4.) All of the Above! This needs no explanation. It’s not one or the other, but actually All of them together.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!


From a Leading Perspective. You didn’t think you were going to be immune to this did you ? Wrong thinking. Got news for you. All of that stuff above where the Follower’s experience is questioning what just happened, can and will happen to you as well. So if you think this is solely a Follower issue, THINK AGAIN!

The Wrap Up. The fact is that this is just one little, tiny, aspect of examining what’s going on in your dance. It happens quite frequently, and you do need to pay attention to it to fix it, to change it, to make it better!

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 the how a Circular Ocho Cortado can function, but not all the toys that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, 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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