Rock Step, Everywhere
There are pieces of Tango vocabulary that get used as though they weren’t even considered, they just happen. There are five of them, aside from ‘walking’. Ochos, Molinetes, Crosses, and Morditas. They’re used so frequently and with such carelessness that you’d think that some people were on autopilot. That’s not stretching the truth there. That’s a fact. The reality is that Tango uses the same pieces of vocabulary over and over again to construct it’s walking dance. We use these pieces of vocabulary as ideograms really, as a way to represent what’s happening in the music. That’s called “interpreting” the music at that point. Do it well, and you’re a genius. Do it poorly and you’re going to sit a lot. While you may see these things solely from a Leading Perspective, you’d be short-sighted in that instance, because this isn’t just a Lead thing. It’s also a Follower thing. Because a good portion of the time there is also repetition in the Follower as well. And speaking of repetition, if you were paying attention, I said that there were 5 pieces of vocabulary above, but I only listed 4. The fifth ? The Rock Step!
From a Following Perspective. Rock steps are quite literally and factually, the bane of your existence. A beginner or intermediate level lead will use them constantly on you, the pushing, the pulling, the incessant stopping. Quite possibly the worst thing to happen to Tango ever. And you, as the Follower, seemingly have to put up with it. “Seemingly” is the operative word.
The fact is that you don’t. You have options. Lots of them actually. You could, for instance, plant your feet and refuse to go any further. Mind you this has the added bonus of never dancing with that Lead ever again because more than likely they’ll never want to dance with you after that. Still another, and shall we say a less defiant version of this idea is to move as though you’re in quicksand. However, this tends to result in said Lead/er pushing and pulling more, not less. Sadly. They’re not going to get the hint that way. You could use the tried and true method of the little white lie, “my back hurts!”, “my feet are bleeding”, “my head hurts” (from the constant pushing and pulling you’re doing). All true. However, this method also tends to work for about 3 steps before said Lead/er goes right back to what they were doing…MORE ROCK STEPS! Yippppeeee! You live for this stuff, no ?
The simplest solution to this problem ? Is to watch your Leads ahead of time before you dance with them. Pay close attention to the repetition of their vocabulary choices, as well as their embraces. These are telltale signs that you probably want to refuse or reject their cabeceo. Yes, I know that some of these people are your friends and you don’t want to hurt their feelings by not dancing with them anymore. But….hmmmm let me put this into a context that you can understand that is practical, clear, and clean…and less messy from a friendship point of view. The next morning after said pushing and pulling and repetition, you’re going to make a phone call to your favorite massage therapist or chiropractor and get an appointment for the aches and pains from the night before that seemingly have cropped up. After said appointment, you’re going to be hit with the bill. Which is going to be somewhere in the range of 100 – 150 for their time. Let’s put this in terms of the shoe economy. How would you rather spend that 100 – 150 ? On shoes ? Or the Chiropractor? I’m going to go with shoes on this one. So if you want that spiffy new pair of X shoes from Y distributor, learn to say “NO” graciously!
From a Leading Perspective. Somewhere down the line you learned a simple Rock Step and it somehow became your goto piece of vocabulary for every Tango situation. You get into a jam ? Rock Step. The line is not moving ? Rock Step. Your partner does something weird ? Rock Step and Resolution. Rock Step, Rock Step, Rock Step….EVERYWHERE. Dude. In case you’re not clear on this one…no one, absolutely no one likes having the same thing repeated at them 10,000 times. No one. However, you’re completely ignorant of this stuff because as far as you’re concerned:
a.) You’re not aware that you’re doing it.
b.) You think it looks cool.
and c.) No one has complained.
You know, there’s a reason no one has complained (actually there are 2). The first reason is that it’s a social dance, and they’re not supposed to give you feedback while you’re dancing with them! Bad idea! It kinda sort breaks the mood if you follow my drift. It’s like you a woman giving you instructions on how to pleasure her. Great before the act happens but not while it’s happening. Kinda unnerving. The second ? Most Followers feel awful about giving feedback to their leads, mostly because they don’t know what to say, or how to say it. They know X, Y, and Z doesn’t feel good but they quite honestly don’t want to hurt your feelings and tell you something like that. So the quintessential little white lie comes into play here “I have a sun tan…”, “My feet hurt”, “I have to sort my lint collection right now…”, etc. All of which may be true…but more than likely not when said Follower gets up a song later to dance with someone else.
How does this relate to the Rock Step Everywhere Problem ? Repetition. The simple fact is that you have a repetition problem my friend and quite literally and factually it’s getting in your way.
Want to see an example of what you’re doing right now ?
This was about a decade ago when I first started out, and this was my first dance with this teacher. I’d been dancing for about 6 months at this point. And as you can see from the video above, let’s just say that I had a Rock Step Obsession and we’ll leave it at that. If you self identify with this problem, then you’re on the road to recovery. If not, then you have some work to do my friend!
From a Dancing Perspective. The reality is that most of you are not going to see an issue here, you’re going to continue to do what you think is right. And as a result 3 things will continue to happen. From a Following perspective, you’re going to keep visiting the Chiropractor/Massage Therapist and keep putting their kids through college. Secondly, that row of dancers that you want to dance with, will never dance with you (and this is reason #3 on the list of reasons why). And lastly, because you don’t know what to replace it with and or how to stop it from happening.
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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!
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