Prepare for Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires for a lot of people, is their trip to Mecca. It is mythological. It is magical. It is the next logical step in their evolution. In their mind they have seen the videos of dancing at Salon Canning, or Villa Malcolm (pron: Vee-Jah Mal-cum), or the crowded floor at La Viruta with 300 other people, or seen the Sunday nights at Villa Malcolm, or the ‘practica’ at De Queresa, or Cachirulo, or La Glorieta, or La Catedral, or any of the hundred plus milongas and practicas per week there, and dreamt of what that must be like. And then to actually be there and then they’re hit with the reality of ‘Oh shit!’ I’m dancing in Buenos Aires! It’s right about at that point when they see the quality of dance, and the speed of the rotunda, that several things happen for them. Fear comes to mind, then excitation, and then more fear (for a different reason), and then hoping that you can manage the floor (as a Lead or a Follow). It’s right then that they wished they had studied harder or paid for privates with the visiting Argentine instructor, and they try to remember everything they’ve ever been taught. They conveniently realize that they’ve not spent any time Preparing For Dancing in Buenos Aires.
What is Preparing for Dancing In Buenos Aires ? This video is all about helping you out with a few vocabulary choices that can change your dance in Buenos Aires so that you’re not freaked out by it from either role. This video is an important tool that can, at the very least, prepare you, and help you to enjoy dancing in BsAs more than you would ordinarily. The reason is a really simple one: Experience. This video covers the ‘how-to-prepare’ yourself for dancing in BsAs for both roles. However, it’s really just a precursor to the toy that you really want:
Dancing In A Small Space. It should be noted that while this 5 point guide is on the technical aspects of dancing in Buenos Aires, it should and can also be applied for Dancing in a Small Space (DIASS <-Follow The Link…really). The techniques are exactly the same that is described herein this video. The skillsets laid out herein are not only the same but even more applicable because while you’ll only dance in BsAs once per year (if you’re lucky) and only for a few short weeks (sadly), you’ll definitely visit a crowded milonga anywhere in the world far more often! Learning how to manage the floor, manage your space, introduce simple but clear, and small vocabulary from a Leading and a Following perspective is absolutely crucial to your continued success as a dancer especially in Buenos Aires!
Pre-Requisites: So that we’re all clear on this part, note the difficulty rating below, it is not an exaggeration! Do not attempt this stuff unless the following is true: You have mastered 1.) your walk. 2.) your stability. and 3.) your equilibrium. 4.) your turns (either role – milonguero turns as well as the follower’s molinete at minimum).
a.) you need to stabilize yourself against your partner when walking.
b.) you need to use your hands or arms in any level of tactile compression.
c.) you are in the habit of watching your partner’s feet (but don’t realize it).
d.) you are used to using resistance – compression – rigidity – tension – or force to engage your ideas.
Difficulty Rating: (4 / 5)
From a Following Perspective, you’ll walk in the door, pay your pesos, try to find a chair, maybe share a chair with another girl, and then on the edge of the seat put your shoes on, and then get all situated and try to find someone, that maybe looking to dance with you. You watch the room, you’ll start scanning the room for leads. Potential partners. You’ll watch the leads that are dancing. And it’s at this point you’ll start to pay attention. And you freak right out. “Oh my God!! He’s so good.”, you’ll say as one passes by. You’ll watch the Followers feet thinking your feet don’t look like that. Your insecurities will come up in ways you haven’t even thought of yet. It’s right about this point that you’ll wonder if there was some way you could have prepared to be here because this is so unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. So many people, not even the festivals that you may have attended are like this. Yes it’s all tango but not like this. Never like this. So many people and so tightly packed together. You wonder if they have any space at all to move and how you’re supposed to dance in that without stepping on someone ? If only you had a resource that could have showed you what dancing in Buenos Aires is like, what you needed to focus on, how your turns want to be and what to study. If only you had had a few more privates with X, or a few more lessons with Y, watched a few more youtube videos.
From a Leading Perspective, let’s get something out of the way immediately – your ego is going to be crushed. From the very first second, from the very first song, from the very first moment you get a Follower on the floor, every insecurity you’ve ever had is going to come up for you. One question will burn in your mind “What do I do now ?”. Naturally, you dance at this point. And you tense up trying to do your best Buenos Aires elegant dance that you can think of times 10! However, you’re freaking out right now. The distance between the partners, the speed at which the rotunda is moving, the follower in your arms and the way they’re moving, it’s sooooo very different than what you’re used to. Holy geeze! This isn’t dancing. It’s survival! You fall back on one thing, rock steps…everywhere. Walking a little, and turning…thank god for turning otherwise you’re going to hit someone. Wait! Everyone stopped moving. She’s talking at you, asking your name, it’s all a buzz, and then you sort of calm down and tell her where you’re from and conversation ensues. Then people start moving again, why are they moving ? The couple behind you is quite literally bumping into you. You better start dancing….oh there’s MUSIC playing. You didn’t hear it before. There was music playing. Christ! About the only thing you heard was the throbbing in your head and you trying to remember everything your teacher has ever said, that and the voice in heard head screaming “WATCH OUT!!!! DID YOU SEE THAT!?!?!?!? WATCH IT, WATCH IT….YOU”RE GOING TO GET HER KILLED!!!!”. If only you had had a resource, a video or two, that could have helped you with Preparing For Dancing in Buenos Aires….
From a Dancing Perspective, there are a few Tango Realities that you need to be aware of:
All of those things listed above in the leading and following sections are going to happen to you and more that aren’t listed!
There will be fear, there will be sweating, there will be trepidation, all of your calm, and cool will go right out the window, especially if this is your first time.
If and when you do get on the floor understand that you’re not going to move more than 2 feet in a tanda, and that’s a lot, you’re going to rock back and forth (bad idea), a lot, even if you think you know what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s right about at this point that you should have mastered the 8 Types of Turns (Walking Turns, Calesitas, Follower’s Molinete to the Lead’s Giro, Milonguero Turns, Rock Step Turns, Media Luna, Ocho Cortado and it’s variations, and/or Single Axis Turns) that Tango Topics talks about, or studied the music a little better, or worked on your embrace a little more.
You’re going to squeeze the living daylights out of your partners because that’s what you’ve experienced mostly out of fear and not be aware of it.
You’re going to experience different kinds of embraces. Some very heavy. Some very lite. Some very in between. Some you will not like at all. Some you find to be exceptionally ‘heavenly’. Some will engage the idea of “La Marca”. Some will use Resistance Based Dancing. Some, especially at the well traveled euro-dancer, and north american dancers, and near teacher class dancers, will invoke Intention Based Dancing in their embrace. Some of those embraces will confuse you and some you will be very familiar with.
Assuming that you stay on the floor, you’re going to spend 30% to 40% of the song, and really the tanda talking and not dancing. It’s also about this point that you’ll notice something about the length of the tanda depending on the milonga venue you’re at, they’re at minimum 4 song tandas, and sometimes 6!
Understand that there are 5,000+ (by some estimates) people in BsAs on a daily basis leaving and arriving just to dance tango, and most if not all of those are tango turistas, and believe it or not you’re more than likely dancing with one.
More than likely you’re not going to get to dance with a local for a few reasons: 1.) You don’t exist until you’ve proven yourself (more on this later). 2.) They’ve seen it all before. 3.) You’re a tourista/gringo/gringa and they know it and so do you. 4.) They’re out with their friends and you’re not on the menu…yet. Basically you’re an unknown and unless they’ve been introduced to you more than likely you’re not going to get to dance with them. Most of the people that you’ll dance with are from somewhere else all looking for the same thing you’re looking for. Oy!
Cabeceo/Mirada. Oy. This one is going to drive you crazy. It depends on the Milonga. It depends on the venue. However, as a rule of them it is better to air on the side of caution that you want to employ good Cabeceo/Mirada habits…always. And if you don’t know what those are just yet. Go here and here. And while it may not seem like it, there is a form or a variation on a theme of Lead Cabeceo in Buenos Aires. Use it at your discretion. You will discover that some people, don’t use the practice, and that some do. However at most, if not all the milongas, especially the good ones, you do actually see it being used constantly. 😉 So…use it.
Lastly, assuming you get through all of that stuff above and are able to relax, you will start to discover something which is the entire reason you’re there: Dancing is very different in Buenos Aires. Very different. It’s smaller. More compact. Tighter executions. It looks faster because of the flow of the line of dance. But it’s no faster than you’re local milonga. The speed thing, is a bit of an illusion. It’s just that the people in the line of dance are dancing at a much more neurologically enhanced level than where you’re at right now. Their neuro-response times have increased at the very least 100 fold if not 1000 fold. And the more that they dance in this environment the more accustomed they become to it. Not to worry you will as well.
There’s one more thing you should know about dancing in BsAs: Every thing that you’ve heard about Tango being a walking dance (including Tango Truism #1) is not the truth! Tango is no longer a walking dance in Buenos Aires, but has in fact become a turning dance instead. The reality is that almost no one teaches this, your head will get filled with all sorts of ‘stuff’ that has nothing to do with this important factoid. Very few people talk about this because it means losing money. However, the fact is that tango is a turning dance in BsAs and really the rest of the world.
Dancing in BsAs is constantly changing, the milongas, the experience, the people, the constant turn over. People coming and going constantly. It’s like stepping into the middle of a conversation and not knowing what the topic of conversation is and then trying to participate except that you know the language, sort of, and can sort of follow the discussion..sort of. That is dancing in Buenos Aires at the 50,000 foot level.
Contrary to what you might believe, Dancing in BsAs isn’t about passion, emotion, feelings, or the any of the hundreds fallacies that you have your head about the romance of dancing there. Nor is it about the 100’s of classes that you have or will take there (which you’ll forget after you’ve taken them – useless waste of time that will screw you up more than fix you or educate you). What is Dancing In BsAs about then ? First and foremost it’s about creating a dance in a small space, economically, without force, without compression, without pressure, without tension, with ease, incrementally, and most of all musically. Interpreting the music is absolutely key here. While the vocabulary is a massive component, hearing the music, and being able to interpret it properly is absolutely crucial to your tango success or failure.
Truthfully, this component of musical interpretation is not covered in the video but is actually part of Tango Topics subscription service. Nor is it something that you’re going to learn in 5 minutes, especially the 5 Pause Types that are all over Tango. Learning to hear the music is not something that should be over looked, as you’ll just ‘feel’ the music. Not. You must learn to hear it in a very different way that allows you to a.) analyze it. b.) employ technique against that analysis. and c.) then execute. The enjoyment comes from getting beyond those things and knowing that your partner is doing the same thing. If that sounds like work, that’s because it is. It’s a lot of work. Typically re-tooling yourself to hear the music properly takes about 3 to 5 months. So you should rightfully plan for that, and subscribing to Tango Topics wouldn’t hurt either!
Next, and probably lastly, it’s about learning to hear the small movements and making a dance from those small movements. Learning to hear the Incremental motion and then responding to it, and what you can possibly do with it (Crossbody Incrementals). Learning to respond to the smaller and much more incremental. This isn’t about big steps, but small ones, tiny ones, learning to dance to with this in mind that everything….everything is smaller within this environment and at hyper speed. This isn’t about vocabulary per se, nor is it about the music per se, it’s about less is more in time to the music. And in order to do that, you either need to spend several month there, OR you need a primer to Prepare For Dancing in Buenos Aires.
About the Video: Preparing for Buenos Aires is 19m:11s HD in length in 8 sections. This is not a technique video, for the individual techniques discussed in the video, it is highly advisable that you go look to their individual technique sections in the TangoTopics Library that is provided with your subscription. This video is more of a how to make things to work from a Leading & a Following perspective, what to practice before you go, and how to practice them.
Section 1 – Introduction – 00:00:48
Section 2 – Walking Steps – 00:02:46
Section 3 – The Argentine Cross – 00:03:12
Section 4 – Ocho Cortado, Check Steps, and (Pitter) Patter – 00:04:04
Section 5 – Turns – Milonguero and Molinete – 00:03:38
Section 6 – How To Prepare – 00:01:09
Section 7 – Example – 00:00:45
Section 8 – Closing – 00:01:09
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.