The Social Colgada is in many ways very similar to the Single Axis Turn. That’s because they’re from the same family of vocabulary. So theoretically, if you know one, ha ha ha, you should be able to execute the other. Not true actually, there are stark differences between the two. One primary difference from the Single Axis Turn is that the Social Colgada is done with the partnership in a perpendicular position to each other rotating around a singular axis vs. the Single Axis turn where the partnership is facing each other. Still another is the Single Axis Turn rotates the couple 180 degrees without invoking a second step around, typically. Whereas the Social Colgada is typically a 270 to 360 degree turn!
The Colgada Rap! Before we go any further, truthfully Colgadas are typically manhandling events that most Follower’s want to avoid like the plague. The reason is a.) that they’re poorly executed. b.) they’re usually arm pushing and pulling experiences, and c.) someone (read that as the Follower) invariably gets hurt because their back has been wrenched this way or that. Most of this occurs because the Lead in question has not learned how to properly generate a Colgada. Where Colgadas get a bad rap is because of these 3 aspects which turns off a lot of people, obviously. However a Social Colgada on the other hand, while it has all the potential for these things to happen, is much smaller, and exists within solely within Close Embrace. When executed properly it can be one of Tango’s more elegant specialty pieces of spice or accent vocabulary.
What is a Social Colgada ? A ‘Social’ Colgada means that the Colgada itself takes up very little space, that it fits within the line & lane of dance, while the couple is in Close Embrace, and instead of executing the Follower’s Molinete to turn the couple, we invoke a Social Colgada. As to a Colgada aspect ? The word “Colgada” comes from the root Spanish verb “Colgar” which translates to English as “Hang”. The word ‘Colgada’ is the past participle version of the verb which adds an ‘ed’ ending to the word. Which when translated to English is ‘Hanged’ or rightfully ‘Hung’. So ? A ‘Social’ Colgada is a move where the Follower (specifically) is in a hanging state off their Lead, deliberately. More specifically, they’re being placed in a position where they’re going to hang. And that’s where we talk about a shared axis, and more importantly balance.
Ideally the Colgada itself is not about taking the Follower off axis, as you may have been told, but rather about creating a state of shared balance & equilibrium along the shared axis between the partnership. As there is always a shared axis between the dancing couple. Truthfully there are actually 6, not one. There’s the lead’s central longitudinal axis, the follower’s central longitudinal axis, and the shared central one between the two dancers which is created by their relationship to each other. It’s the last one that we’re interested in because it generates the space for a Colgada to exist.
Difficulty Rating: (4 / 5) Let’s be absolutely clear about something. This is not an easy move to perform. A lot of manhandling can occur if it is not executed properly. Use with caution and under the supervision of an experienced teacher.
Tango Pre-Requisites: Let’s get this out of the way immediately before another thing is said – Social Colgadas should not be led on or led by the beginner dancer! And if this page is being honest, really not even someone that’s been dancing for about at about the 2 to 3 year mark (assuming the following things are true). There’s a reason for this limitation on learning to execute one of these things. The limitation is that the dancer’s form must not contain: Hanging, pulling, pushing, compression or micro compressions as default behaviors. The Social Colgada requires that you have mastered your walk and in specific your extensions and collections. And/or are on your way to make that stuff as clean and clear as is humanly possible. Secondarily that you have mastered your stability, as a lead and/or as a follow! Meaning that you don’t need to hold on to anyone or anything while walking forward AND/OR backwards while engaging and employing forward intention. Factually speaking – the beginner dancer has no idea about any of this stuff just yet, most of it is gobbly-gook, and they’re just not ready to wrap their minds around this stuff just yet. They only see the ‘flashy’ move, and not what has to occur in them before they attempt it. Truthfully they’re just figuring this stuff out, and throwing a Social Colgada at them immediately will freak the bejeebers out of them and possibly create injury for either role.
From A Following Perspective let’s get this right out of the way immediately: You’re going to fall, backwards or in this case, to the side away from your lead. That’s the whole point of a Colgada in the first place, the falling part. There’s nothing you can do about it, except to engage the Follower’s Kickstand (see above in the video). However understand something that the “fall” is a controlled hang more than anything else, and the control comes from two important aspects 1.) the elasticity of the couple’s embrace, and 2.) body position, placement, and balance between the couple. 🙂
If there is rigidity in the embrace from either partner, nasty things are going to happen. “Elasticity” in this instance is a somewhat relative term, as there does have to be some firmness there, but not to the point where you’re holding on for dear life! That’s not what a Colgada is about. 😉 So yes, dear Follower, you’re going to fall to the side, and quite rightfully it’s going to be a little scary for obvious reasons. No one, absolutely no one wants to fall. However in this instance we actually do want to fall, a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. And that’s where the controlled part comes in. It’s a very controlled ‘hang’ through technique, and more importantly through a shared balance point between the partnership.
Planking: Before we go any further we have to talk about when you “fall”, your desire is to stiffen your body, and then ‘Plank’ it to save it from impacting the floor. But before we get there, we’ll engage the Kickstand Mechanism to prevent that from happening. However, even before the “fall” happens our body stiffens, as Followers, and we ’plank’. What is that ? It means that you’re going to straighten out your body as if it were an elongated piece of wood, falling backwards, hence the term ‘plank’, which refers to a plank of wood. 😉 “Planking” is an error as there is something else we want to do.
Planking is an error when engaging a Colgada. It is however a perfectly natural response to do this. So don’t freak out. However, planking is not what we’re after. We’re actually after something else. This is why we learn the proper position for a Colgada to exist. What’s the more desirable position for us ? For that, you’ll have to see the video. However the descriptive for it is very simple, it’s almost as if you’re sitting, you’re going to send your hips away from your lead, while keeping your torso with them. Or in the case of the Social Colgada, you’re going to be perpendicular to your lead so you want your hips to go away while the side of your torso faces your Lead.
The Controlled Hang: Another aspect of the Colgada is that we want our arms, and hands to a certain degree, to be able to slide almost as if you’re arms were a collapsible telescoping bar. ‘Telescoping’ in the adjective form, meaning that one part slides into another. We do not want rigidity in our arms and/or hands. We also don’t want to hold on for dear life with our hands, like you’re grabbing the lead’s bicep with your spiny fingers. Not. Less than desirable. Instead we want arms and hands to be able to slide within the Lead’s embrace – hence the ‘telescoping’ part. 🙂
The Kickstand Mechanism: There is a safety mechanism that is built into each and every Colgada, and it’s called The Follower’s Kickstand. What’s that ? It’s where the Follower’s free leg extends backwards as if they were going to step backwards but there’s no weight on it. The Kickstand in this case occurs under ONE condition. If and only if there is no counterbalance (or counter send) from their lead. If there is counterbalance then the Follower should not release from their invited Mordida (see video above).
From a Leading Perspective the Social Colgada is all about balance. It’s the Lead’s job, function, to create physiological balance, a state of equilibrium, within the couple. Mistakenly this is done with your arms, but instead we want to employ counterbalance with the Follower with our mass, not our arms. Our arms are there to ‘guide’ our intention, but the real toy here is counterbalance. Truth be told the Lead (the person not the action) is more than likely going to have more mass than their Followers will posses. And as such the counterbalance point will be slight, while at the same time, the proper ‘sitting’ position of the Colgada will be almost, but not quite planking. So, in other words, the break at the waist, will be slight. 🙂
The Used Mordida: A good portion of Leads, overuse the Mordida usually mistakenly in the Salida Step of the dance. What’s a Mordida ? It’s a ‘foot’ sandwich. Where the lead, traps one of the Follower’s feet and sandwiches it between the Lead’s feet. Far too often once a Lead learns how to create a Mordida they use it everywhere. As a place to stop, as a place to reset the couple, as a place to end the dance. This is know on Tango Topics as The Unused Mordida. It’s ‘Unused’ because the Mordida is an indicator to the Follower that something is about to change, usually entering either a Volcada, a Barrida, a Parada, or in this case, a Colgada. However in this case we actually use it and rightfully need it to set up the Colgada, because without our feet are going to slide every which way, and we obviously don’t want that to happen.
The Arm-y Pushme-Pullyou Colgada: Typically most leads use their arms to generate a Colgada, as has been said, however one aspect of this is that once the Colgada starts the Lead will pull the Follower towards them with their arms instead of directing their intention with their mass. One of these is desirable (mass direction), and one these is not (pulling). This type of error makes almost any Colgada very undesirable. So it’s a good idea to learn how to direct that mass, without pulling or pushing so that the experience is a pleasant one and not one of dread for the Follower! Just a hint, this video shows you how to do that, properly.
A Turning Social Colgada ? The Colgada gets a really bad rap most of the time. It’s poo-poo’d because most people think of it as ‘Nuevo’ vocabulary or open embrace vocabulary. Frequently this type of vocabulary is poorly executed, thereby making it visually unappealing, not to mention wholly uncomfortable. However, this particular version of the Colgada is far from the unsightly ‘nuevo’ aspects that you’re used to seeing, and that’s because of its ‘whoosh’ factor. The ‘whoosh’ is a rush of energy that happens because the couple is rotating to one side or the other! Most colgadas are done in linear fashion. This Colgada series is done on the circular, and then to exit the Colgada, the Follower steps, over and (here’s the important part) around their lead! While this can be done in Open Embrace, and there’s nothing wrong with that, doing so tends to take up way too much space, so instead we want to do this in Close Embrace taking up no more space than a single forward step. Put succinctly, a Social Colgada, when properly executed (hence the video), can be a way to turn the couple down the line of dance! This aspect of the Social Colgada makes it a very useful and powerful turning tool for the lead to use in 2 ways: 1.) Navigationally. and 2.) The Spice Factor (see below).
The ‘Flashy’ Aspect! Yes this vocabulary is ‘flashy’. It has all the earmarks of being ‘cool’. However it also has the potential for being very showy. Especially if the hang aspect goes to wide, if it takes up too much space, if there’s too much distance between the partnership, etc. Under those conditions, a Single Axis Turn can look very flashy. However, it’s not meant to be flashy, It’s meant to be sweet, elegant, and a surprise. 😉
The Single Axis Turn Check. A question that comes up for some people, is when to lead this ? Sparingly. See below for more on that. In the meanwhile, this piece of the topic does require a bit of setup before you actually lead this on a Follower. And while the setup is not covered in the video (for obvious reasons), is of some importance. The setup is more a precursor check to see if your partner is up to the task of a Social Colgada. The setup ? Assuming that said Follower is NOT a beginner dancer, you want to lead a Single Axis Turn somewhere else prior to the Social Colgada (preferably not one right after the other, and not in the same song). The Single Axis Turn will tell you everything you need to know . Like for instance, if your partner completes the Mordida, if they understand send/counter-send, if they have issues of stability in the ‘whoosh’ phase of the Single Axis Turn. If everything checks out in the Single Axis Turn you’re good to go later on. However if it doesn’t go smoothly, just don’t go there. Just don’t. More than likely your Follower will freak right out and you’ll end up hurting them and/or possibly yourself. 🙁
From a Dancing Perspective the Social Colgada can be a very beautiful, elegant, and useful tool. But let’s be absolutely clear about something, the Social Colgada is spice. It is Accent Vocabulary. Meaning ? This is not something that you whip out every ten seconds in the line of dance. It should be used sparingly, like as in once or twice in a night as a surprise, and nothing more than that. The vocabulary itself should be used solely as variance, not as the goto turn. Never that. One of the reasons we use this stuff is solely to add a little variety to our dance, nothing more than that. It is important to practice it, to smooth out the rough spots of it, to keep yourself current with leading and following one when they happen, however it should be reinforced in your head that this is accent or spice vocabulary! Which means that you use it once and then let it go! Do not repeat this 17 million times in the space of one tanda, nor every variation of this, but once and let it go. Got it ? 🙂
It should be noted that some people will find this piece of vocabulary somewhat Tango offensive for a variety of reasons, most notably is that it breaks certain long held beliefs or conventions about the dance. Such as, once you’re in Close Embrace you stay in close embrace (mind you it doesn’t break that rule but the possibility for it exists). Still another is that the Follower’s feet leave the floor (they do, but only for an instant). And others. Let’s be clear about something, the Social Colgada can be poorly executed, and/or it’s possible that the dancer can create flashy aspects in the execution of the vocabulary. In either case, there is a belief that one shouldn’t execute a Social Colgada. And that belief has some validity to it. It’s a good practice to execute this vocabulary with a partner that you have danced with previously, this is not something that should be whipped out and danced simply because you’ve watched a 29m:09s video on topic. No. This stuff requires patience, practice, and then more practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. And when you’re done practicing this stuff ? Practice some more. And then about 6 or 8 months from now, when you’re dancing with your favorite partner, it’s near the end of the milonga, and you have lots of space to move around in, you pull this out once, and then you let it go. YMMV.
About The Video. This video is 29m:09s in length in 12 sections. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated into the video.
Introduction – 00:01:04
The Mordida – 00:02:28
Balance & Planking – 00:03:06
The Kickstand – 00:01:41
The 3 Linear Cologadas – 00:03:08
The Circular Colgada – 00:01:40
The Colgada Embrace – 00:02:15
The Step Over Colgada – 00:02:56
The ‘Social’ Colgada – 00:03:03
In The Line Of Dance – 00:03:44
The ‘Whoosh’ Factor – 00:01:39
A Primary Lead Error/End – 00:01:39
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