Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


Bumper Car Tango

‘Bumper Car’ is an amusement park ride where the cars are coated with a rubber bumper to prevent an actual accident from occurring, steering is ‘questionable’, and really the car is supposed to not really be drivable. It goes straight and very fast and does in fact bump into other cars. The goal is to bump cars, not stay safe! How does this relate to tango ? While the larger implications are obvious as it relates to floorcraft, this particular topic has everything to do with the Lead/Follow dynamic that sometimes occurs within the construct of the embrace. It’s where one or both parties unknowingly, for reasons discussed below, that we essentially ‘bump’ into our partners and continue to do so. Hence the term, “Bumper CarTango.

From A Following Perspective, you’ve got a number of issues going on. Not the least of which is the fact that no one has actually shown you what Close Embrace dancing is actually supposed to be like. You see other people doing it and just copy what their doing and since no one is complaining you must be doing it right. You may have taken one 2 hr workshop once, and you would think that this should clear up the understanding of what Close Embrace dancing is and is not (it doesn’t by the way). Or a good portion of the time your teachers may or may not detail what close embrace is actually supposed to be like. And/or the dancers that you’re dancing with (depending on how long you’ve been dancing and how socially engaging you are, and/or pretty you are – yes this is a factor, sadly) will create in you a broad spectrum of experiences in you that can be confusing at best. Along the way, someone may have talked to you about ‘staying’ with your partner, staying in front of your partner, and that whole walking business. What you may not realize is that your walk and your embrace can both be sources of problems and contrary to what you may have been told, it’s not always your fault. A good portion of the time, again contrary to what you’ve been told, it’s your lead’s issue that is causing most of the problems that occur. You’re apologizing for the wrong things. And yes that includes following a lead that you sort of felt go one way and while at the same time the lead (the action – hence the lowercase ‘L’) was about as clear as a mud puddle, which is to say, not! As this relates to Bumper Car Tango, your extensions (meaning how you extend your leg) may either not be far enough or too far. Both of which can create the sensation of Bumper Cars as well as a host of other issues. If it’s not far enough your Lead (the person not the action) will end up bumping into you and stubbing your foot with theirs. If it’s too far, you’ll end up going away from them, thereby creating another series of problems. The issue on the table is one of understanding not necessarily about the physical elements involved. This is about how something feels to you kinesthetically, not the emotional noise that is wholly subjective and not very helpful that gets passed around as that way too nebulous word, ‘Connection’. This is one of several possible outcomes of the Follower’s extension that is either too shallow or too expansive. There are other possible outcomes that we will discuss at a later time, but this one is rather prominent. 😉

From a Leading Perspective, you’re not going to like this statistic, and you’re not going to believe it either. You’d rather believe that the problem is the Follower, when in fact it’s not. It’s you my friend. The statistic: You are 80% of the issues that are going on within the construct of the embrace and the dance. 80%. Think about it this way, if you led it, why is the Follower apologizing for it ? They’re only responsible for what they felt, not correcting for it! They’re not mind readers you know! They can’t magically understand and interpret that thing you call a ‘lead’ which is rightfully being heard as a ‘mumble’ because you’re not being mister crystal clear. How does this relate to Bumper Car Tango ? This is quite literally the source of the problem, your lack of clarity. You’re either sending too much intention and/or not enough that is clear to the Follower, while at the same time you have a vice grip going on with your right arm while at the same time placing the Follower in your armpit. And as a result, you end up either stepping on the Follower’s foot, stubbing their toes (open toed shoes … OY!), or falling forward into their embrace and you end up leaning on them while they apologize thinking that the fault is theirs, when in fact it’s yours my friend. You generated the entire issue, not them. They’re just responding to what they hear/feel coming from you. And if that thing isn’t clear, and/or isn’t consistent….then we have a problem. It’s actually a cascade of problems that start with a lack of clarity in one’s intention. To be clearer, this does not mean that you should force your way through the problem, no. That’s pushing and pulling everywhere and no one likes that. No one. So don’t go there. No the solution to this problem is one of kinesthetic awareness and due diligence on multiple levels.

From a Dancing Perspective, eventually some of us do grow out of this problem, to an extent. We would like to believe that you, the reader, is that exception and that you have grown out of this problem. But a fair number of you reading this haven’t and won’t. And there’s a reason for that. The reason is that you don’t have anyone telling you any different. You eventually stop going to practicas (assuming the american variety of what a practica is), and start going to Milongas instead because that’s where all your friends are at. Furthermore you stopped asking for and getting feedback from people and wrongfully assume thet because no one is complaining then you must be doing “ok”. What you fail to recognize is that you changed venues where the codigos are slightly different. Look ‘Bumper Car’ Tango happens mostly for the reasons stated above, and you haven’t bothered to fix the problem mostly because you don’t see it as an issue. You have just learned to contort your body and your embrace around these issues. That contortion is the source of most of your issues with the embrace and your walk!

The Last Word
.There is are several solutions to this problem. The obvious one is to stop doing it. The question is ‘how’ ? You can easily find the answer to this question in one of two places. You can find it in a private lesson with your local teacher who will more than likely a.) blame the follower’s that you’re dancing with or b.) blame the lead’s that you’re dancing with. and then proceed to directly to showing you something completely unrelated and never address the underlaying issues at all. Or you could…eeeeek! Heavens! Subscribe to this website, not just register but subscribe. Actually become a paying member and then use the resources of this site to …. dare I mention it…IMPROVE ? Anyway…thanks for reading and I look forward to seeing you in class! Oh and go register!!!


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