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Lead Molinete

Most people when they hear the word “Molinete” think of the turn that the Follower is ‘supposed’ to do. They generally commingle the Lead’s role of the ‘Giro’ (which is first person singular, from the root Spanish word ‘Girar’, which means “I turn” when translated from Spanish to English). Generally this is the common turn that is taught to all beginners as what the Follower does in order to turn. Generally speaking, nearly all, social dance possess a turn like the Follower’s Molinete, it’s called a ‘Grapevine Turn’, which basically consists of some form of a backstep, some form of a side step, and some form of a forward step. It’s just that in Argentine Tango’s version that version usually contains disassociation and then applied disassociation (or ideally we’d like it to contain that, but frequently does not). For the most part, the line of reasoning is that the Giro/Molinete construct is Follower vocabulary only. However as the title of Today’s Tango Topic implies, you’ve been fed a line of reasoning and gap that doesn’t necessarily add up. Which is to say that this is not jut for Followers! A Lead can and should engage in this idea as well! So without further adieu, today’s Tango Topic is on The Lead Molinete.

What is a LEAD Molinete ? It is exactly as described, a Grapevine Turn, that consists of an applied dissociative backstep, a ‘circular’ side step, and a dissociative forward step. That’s it. It doesn’t get any more complex than that. The only difference is that instead of the Follower doing this vocabulary, the Lead does it. However, this particular version of the Molinete can be done in Open Embrace and in Close Embrace, and almost any embrace format that you think of. It can be done to the Close Side, which is perceptional-ly easier (that’s a fallacy by the way), and to the Open Side of the the embrace. Typically you would think that going to the Close Side would be harder, it’s not. It’s the same amount of work going in either direction. 

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Following Perspective. From your point of view, when you’re being led to what is essentially keeping your feet together, unless you want to be fancy (we’ll get to that in a moment), then there’s not much here for you. This is coming to collection, and staying there. Before we get to the fancy stuff, let’s at least acknowledge that the coming to collection, and staying there default behavior. That unless you’re led to do something else, there’s really nothing else for you to do here except to stay over one foot. Do not change weight, do not almost extend your leg. Just. Collect. Your. Feet. That’s it. That’s all. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just collection. That’s it.

The Follower’s Question: The question you’re going to ask yourself, and it’s a valid question to ask, is “How do I know if I’m being led to a Lead’s Molinete ?”. Good question. You want a really good answer, which you’re not going to believe when you read it ? You don’t. No, seriously. That’s the answer, you don’t know that you’re being led to that. The reality is that the Lead’s Molinete could be any one of about 28 different pieces of vocabulary, because they all start out the same way. The fact of the matter is that the Lead’s Molinete is no more special or involved for you than what you do normally. It just so happens that the Lead is doing the hard work this time, instead of you! There’s no special Lead signal that you need to be aware of, there’s no secret hand hold that screams to you “Lead Molinete”. Nor is there a step, pattern, or figure, which Tango Topics knows of, which explicitly states that when the Lead does X, that means Lead Molinete. It just doesn’t exist.

Follower’s Awareness: So the only thing you really have to know, probably is to learn to listen to what is sometimes referred to as a “No lead” structure. So named because of it’s primary property, there’s nothing going on. Wait, didn’t this page just say that there was no special anything about a Lead’s Molinete that the Follower needed to listen to ? Yup. It sure did. So why is there now all of a sudden a crucial piece of information ? Because that crucial piece of information isn’t there. Honestly, the page isn’t lying to you. 🙂 What you’re listening for (tactile pressures, sometimes referred to as ‘feeling’) is actually nothing, there’s no leading going on, hence the name. It’s actually the absence of a lead (the action, not the person) that you’re really being attuned towards. However, this same ‘no lead’ could used for a more than a dozen moves, especially a Lead Back Sacada! In this instance what you’re listening for is that ‘No lead’, it’s the only indicator that something is about to change.

The Follower’s Cool Toys. 1.) Adornos (Sp > Eng: Adornments). Meaning ? That the Follower could engage any number of Adornments while said Lead Molinete is happening to dress up what the Lead is doing IN TIME TO THE MUSIC. Mind you this could happen at any time with any particular piece of vocabulary. But here in this place because the Follower is in state of collection, they have a grand opportunity to decorate what the Lead is doing. Such as ? The Follower’s Lapiz, perhaps ? Little circles on the floor with the free foot ? Self Ganchos, perhaps ? Just to name a few. 2.) Embellishments (which are not the same things in Tango Topics way of thinking about things). Same as the Adornment, a decoration but it’s happening outside a musical attachment. It’s a distinction more than anything else. 3.) There is another possible cool toy here, and it has to do with Applied Disassociation. The Follower could allow for their to be a delay, a lag, in their Disassociation, and then gradually release that Disassociation (That’s the ‘Applied’ part) thereby allowing for some very cool options. Basically we’re talking about a very cool, slow unwind within the construct of the embrace. Mind you there are some caveats to this, most notably if the Lead isn’t squeezing the living daylights out of the Follower with their embrace. If they are, then option 3 here isn’t going to happen. 🙁 Put simply you have an opportunity here to engage in what would typically be the Lead’s Giro, and now all of those options are yours to play with. The roles have been reversed, without a reverse embrace! Hence the reason why this is a cool toy!

These are all the Follower’s choice of course, to engage them or to not engage them. Frequently the Follower doesn’t have oodles of time to do these sorts of things, however in this case they do.

The Follower’s Fine Print. 1.) Collection. Has already been stated. Let’s state it again and say we didn’t, ok ? You get the point. Right ? Good. Let’s move on. 2.) Stability. The fact of the matter is that the Lead Molinete will create a bit of instability in the Follower, and it will happen. Not it may happen, or it might happen. It will happen. The reality is that as the Lead takes their backstep around the Follower, they’ll step away from the Follower (this is an error by the way), and as a result create an instability. So the Follower must be ready for that instability to occur. 3.) Armpit dancing. The Follower, 9 times out of 10, will end up in the Lead’s armpit while the Lead is initiating the Lead Molinete. And as a result, they’re going to end up in the Lead’s armpit. It’s going to happen if the Lead isn’t aware enough. By the way the video covers how to handle this eventuality (from a Leading perspective). However, if the Follower wants to, and they should want to do this, they can correct for their out of position (armpit dancing and movement) in the Lead’s Molinete. However, doing so if forced, can make it appear that it’s not happening organically, that you’re just repositioning yourself. Typically a repositioning like this happens with the arms. We don’t necessarily want that to occur. We want it to happen with the torso itself. And so that we’re clear here, that repositioning should be no more than a few millimeters, we’re not talking about vast distances here, it’s just enough to keep us, as Followers, aligned with our lead. That’s it, that’s all.

Leading Perspective. A Lead has loads of options and opportunities of things (vocabulary, music, floorcraft) to play with, and leading the Follower to their Molinete while they engage the lead’s Giro, is a staple of modern Argentine Tango. However, if we turn the tables a bit (no pun intended), we open up a possibility, a doorway if you like, for other ideas to enter our dance. A spice element. And that’s what Today’s Tango Topic really is, it’s a spice element for a Lead to engage in. It should be reinforced that this is spice, or accent, and not a staple of the dance.

Because the Molinete and its benefits have been discussed to death, all this section is really going to touch on are some very simple ideas that you may have forgotten about, but are relevant here for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that it opens other options for us, as leads, to play with. When we’re doing fiddling the options, we’re then going to answer one singular question. But before we get to that stuff, let’s do a bit of history. You probably learned the Follower’s Molinete and understand what you have to do in order to generate one. However, more than likely you never actually did the job yourself. A great man once said, “Never ask a man to a job for you, unless you’ve done that job yourself!”, the “walk a mile in someone’s shoes” methodology. Practicing this methodology gives you great perspective, and not to mention but we will anyway, appreciation for the amount of work, care, and detail that goes into that specific thing, or in this case a Molinete. With that thought in mind, it’s probably an eye-opening experience for you to do this amount of work just once, not the millions of times you’ve led this on a Follower and thought to yourself all the things that they should be doing but aren’t, thereby blaming the Follower for their lack of execution. And now that execution is on you IF and ONLY IF you want to execute a nice Lead Molinete!

It’s 3 steps really. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that. Back. Side. Forward. And in those 3 steps you have any one of 27 possible combinations to play with, if we start with particular or dominant step first, which would be:

[Back Step First] BSF, BFS, BSS, BFF, BBB, BBF, BBS, BSB, BFB. 
[Side Step First] SFB, SBF, SSB, SSF, SSS, SFS, SBS, SSF, SSB.
[Forward Step First] FSB, FBS, FFB, FFS, FFF, FBF, FSF, FFS, FFB.

The reason we’re discussing possibilities here is that, frequently, we only see one possibility over and over again, the BSF option. There are 26 other possibilities for us to engage in. Exploring these possibilities adds not only spice but variation to our repertoire. However, more than likely you’re still thinking like a Lead and not like a Follower here, in that YOU want to lead YOURSELF to do these, not the Follower. This is just a reminder that there are other options besides BSF out there. That’s all. See ? Simple reminder.

Now to the most important question of all, if you have all of that at your disposal, why on earth do you want to use a Lead Molinete ? The simple answer, three reasons:

1.) Accent Vocabulary. It’s a good as spice, or accent vocabulary. Use sparing, hence the reason it’s spice! The reality is that all of those places where you could have led the Follower to their Molinete, you could have led yourself to one and allowed the Follower to engage your role. That alone is worth it’s weight in Tango gold! Anything that is a little different, that can spice things up a bit, A BIT, is a good thing. The problem is in it’s execution, specifically the Lead’s backstep (we’ll get to that in the fine print!). However, if you make this a staple of your vocabulary choices, it’s no longer ‘spice’, it’s wrote behavior and chances are that the Follower (and most of the people you dance with will be onto the game! So we ideally want to use this stuff, sparingly. Practice it, yes, but sparing usage, absolutely!

2.) Floorcraft. It’s an excellent navigational element. You more than likely use the Follower’s Molinete as a navigational element. Time to turn the tables a bit. Stop and think about it for a moment, if it was a good navigational tool to use on the Follower, why wouldn’t it be again in the reverse ? The same options that existed before with the Follower in your place, exist, nothing has changed. Only everything has changed and you’re the one directing what happens from this point. You have 3 steps to play within any one of 9 possible combinations each step, as shown above. 

3.) Musical. It’s insanely extensible from a musical perspective. Assuming that you’re playing with just the three steps, you could add a 4th to make it match tango (which opens up other doors), or 3 to match vals note for note.

Lead’s Awareness: Stepping around the Follower not away, most importantly in the back step. Everything is around the Follower here. Stepping away from the Follower creates instability in the couple and more than likely will have your Follower falling over on you! So to avoid this little tiny problem, step around them, not away!

The Lead’s Fine Print: Probably the most prominent issue in the fine print is the Back Step of the Molinete, which is all about the Applied Disassociation! You can’t screw this up. Typically most people just throw their leg behind them, and cross over their body meridian to do it, hoping that everything just works out! This isn’t desirable methodology. Not by any stretch of the imagination. You must learn to execute Disassociation and then learn to Apply that Disassociation (Applied Disassociation), what you erroneously consider to be a pivot. Anything less than perfect execution and you look ‘shoddy’, and you want to look sharp, crisp, clean, and most of all fluid. Easeful. Anything less than that, and we have a problem. So what do you need to do ? Start studying Traveling Ochos! Because those Traveling Ochos, believe it or not, contain the Backstep of the Molinete, that’s why! Of course, you could do either one of the two following studies, and those will also do the trick. But in either case, you do need to study this stuff as it doesn’t just happen.  


The Fundamental Stepping Stones! The only way this stuff works is Disassociation and Applied Disassociation. That’s it. Fortunately for you, Tango Topics has an extensive video on both of these very important topics for sale, but also included in the video subscription. Follow the links included herein and educate yourself. Or Subscribe. Either way. 🙂 Of course it wouldn’t hurt for you to study the Molinete from the Follower AND Lead’s perspective, so you might need another video for that as well. Fortunately, that particular video is available immediately, just follow this link! What would be helpful here is also a study of what Tango Topics calls “Fred Torture”, as it would help you to define and clarify the Molinete structure in its base elements.

spicy dancing ideas

This video cannot be purchased, at this time, and can only be seen in its entirety with a Gold or Diamond Level Subscription

About The Video. This video comes in at 22m:07s in length in 8 Sections. Separate Follower Technique and detailed Lead Technique is explained here in the video, as well as the combined elements of what has to happen in order for a successful Lead Molinete to function.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:47
Section 2 – Follower Technique – 00:03:48
Section 3 – Lead Technique – 00:02:56
Section 4 – Combined Lead & Follow – 00:04:28
Section 5 – Close Embrace Version Technique – 00:04:36
Section 6 – Close Embrace Example – 00:01:11
Section 7 – Open Side Turn – 00:01:24
Section 8 – Ending – 00:01:13

This video cannot be purchased, at this time, and can only be seen in its entirety with a Gold or Diamond Level Subscription

thoughts about tango ?

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you are reading this topic in the hopes that it may get you to question and to dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, this topic only scratches the surface. Because you’re only seeing half of the information. You really do need to see all of it. If you had registered or ponied up the kingly sum of $7.95 for your first week, then you’d either see a free tip here, or if you’re a paying subscriber you’d see some detailed notes about the video that were either left out of the video or were an afterthought to the video after it was shot! However, because you haven’t gone and registered at least, you’re missing some helpful information that could give you a tip to making your dance a better experience for you and your partners!

Why should you subscribe for access ?  Several reasons. 1.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 2.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 3.) And real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perpective as well as from a Following perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

– 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 subscriber today.

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