Tango Topics | Social Dancing Tools

Open post

The Argentine ‘Dip’

The Argentine 'DIp'

The ‘Dip’ is a very common form and expressive move used in most social dances. Argentine Tango has it’s own version of a ‘Dip’, however this version of the Dip looks nothing like what you’ve seen before. It’s almost not worth calling it a ‘Dip’ to begin with but it is in truth of fact, the Argentine version does classify as a ‘Dip’.

Let’s back up a moment and address the possibility that you have no idea what a ‘Dip’ is. A ’Dip’ refers to what is called a Dancing Dip. And it is what it sounds like, a physiological dip in the movement of the couple. Where one partner, the Lead, stops the dance for a moment to express some aspect in the music. Usually that moment is characterized by a long, languid note.  At that point the other partner (the Follower in this case) is led into a controlled, but partial, fall within the embrace of the first partner (the Lead). This is a ‘Dip’ in technical terms. Usually this kind of move is very, very dramatic, and done in the extreme to maximize it’s effect. And the effect is very visual, generating lots and lots visual lines, postures, and poses for the couple. One such idea is the ‘Death Drop Dip’ (which Tango does use in Performance Tango) where the Follower is led to almost touching the ground with their back, and one arm stretched out towards their partner  The Argentine Social Dance version of this idea is the polar opposite of this extreme idea. The Argentine Dip is more felt than it is dip. That said, let’s talk about the Argentine Dip.

From A Following Perspective you are going to be the one who is being ‘dipped’ here. And unlike other social dances where the dip is exceptionally overly dramatic that borders on the athletic gymnastic display, the Argentine version of this for you is more about a ‘lag’ than anything else. The key component for this dip to work for you is where it is done. Usually, you’ll find yourself led to this out of an Argentine Cross. Specifically a forward step across your Lead. That forward step IS the Argentine Dip for you. However, it’s how it is done that makes this very unique. There is no back bending, no acrobatics here for you. None. This is all about a lag in response time for you. The more that you lag on taking the forward step across your the Lead, the more that you ‘Dip’. That lag is the dip itself. However, let’s be clear about something. This is entirely a led move for you. Meaning that this is not something that you ideally want to initiate on your own. Doing so would create unintended consequences for both roles, mostly confusing the hell out of your Lead. Not to mention it would violate the guidelines of an Active Follower (yes, there are guidelines). That said, while this site is all about the role of the Active Follower, initiating an Argentine Dip out of the Argentine Cross on your own can create more problems for you than it’s worth.

That said, you do have an aspect that is totally under your control: Your technique of the Forward step out of the Cross. 1.) How and where you place your foot. 2.) how you extend your leg. 3.) Where you place your foot. and 4.)  The speed at which you do these things. These 4 elements are all under your control. Executing any 1 or all 4 of these things creates options and opportunities for you. Further you can actually control where the partnership is going just by moving that leg/foot by 2 or 3 millimeters towards or away from your Lead.

There’s one place where the Argentine Dip can be employed that is not in the video, and in this case it’s all about you. It’s from your Molinete, and in specific your side step, into your Forward step around your lead, which is a resolution to come back to face your Lead. That resolution IS the Dip! You have so many options to ‘dip’ at that juncture it’s not even funny anymore.

So while the Argentine Dip doesn’t give you the ability to initiate it. It does, once led to do so, give you an inordinate amount of options and opportunities to do something else that makes both partners look absolutely fabulous!

From a Leading Perspective, like everything else in Tango, you’re responsible for initiating this one. It also falls on you to do something that you’re not going to want to do. And that’s allow the Follower some space to play with this one. You can lead the Argentine Dip to be certain, however, the real beauty of this lay in allowing the Follower play with the lag time a little bit, specifically on their Forward step.

To be clear, you’re going to lead the Follower to an Argentine Cross in either Parallel or Cross system, and after such instead of leading them to walk out of it, or to side step (tsk, tsk, tsk) you’re leading them to a Forward step across you. In the transition from the cross step to the Follower’s forward step is where the Argentine Dip actually happens. The trick in how this is done is in the video itself. You’re not going to see it specifically no matter how many times you slow it down to frame by frame, you have to have it explained in exactly what the Lead is doing to generate this ‘lag’ in the Follower. There is a toy here, and the toy once understood can be applied nearly everywhere! One really cool place where it could be applied is in leading the Follower’s Molinete. Specifically their Side Step into their Forward step around you, which ends up as a resolution. That resolution IS the dip as was pointed above. However there’s one little trick here that you want to use here, and again it’s something you’re going to have to fight yourself on. It’s creating space for their resolution. You’re going to want to pull them closer and you can’t do that here. You have to allow them the space to ‘lag’. That space IS the dip!

Where are you going to use this stuff ? The answer is musical. You just don’t throw these things in their willy-nilly, haphazardly. No. They’re done in time to a particular point in the music. Where you might ask ? Think late Pugliese (before he left Argentina for Paris) 1950 – 54, that time period of his music. Think Miguel Calo, almost anything later. Think D’Agostino’s “Trasnochando” (the ’43 version), or “Cafe Dominguez” (the ’55 version, there’s only one out there). What you’re listening for is a place in the music where the bandoneon has a long ‘stringy’ note and stretches out for a beat or two. That beat or two is where you would place the ‘Dip’.



try these articles




From a Dancing Perspective the Argentine Dip is not seen, it’s felt. The moment you see it you’re going to think, what’s the big deal ? It’s easy to miss. Really easy. It just looks like a hesitation really. That hesitation is the ‘dip’ itself. However to the dancers this is something that is clearly felt. Specifically on the crossing step and coming around to lead the Forward step across the Lead. That transition is where the hang/lag/hesitation happens, however the dancer feels that  as a sharp shift in inertia, it almost feels like a tilt-a-wheel, where you’re being throw apart from each other and yet at that moment, the hang that occurs is a ‘whoosh’ and that whoosh happens for just an instant and it’s probably one of the better moments in a tanda, like a ‘wheeeeee’ moment when you were a kid flying down a hill on your bicycle. Only this happens for just an instant. It’s insanely cool! 

The Missing Information.  There’s a free tip (for registered free users) that’s not here because you’re not logged in. If you were logged in, you’d see a free tip, but because you’re not, you’re not seeing it. So ? If you want the free tip, then go register as a free user and login. 🙂 However, if you want the toys, and to see the 13 minute HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow the Check Step/Incremental Step and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

Watch It On Youtube. Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website  when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you’ll find on Youtube doesn’t explain, with real world examples, of how this stuff works! That’s why! And furthermore, what you may see from some of those videos is shall we say, less than desirable social tango technique. So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos you want. Spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out from the single camera angle how things might work in that situation. Which may help you, and more than likely it won’t, because you’re missing something! The explanation from an experienced teacher! Which is precisely why those videos exist on Youtube. The goal of those videos is to entice you to actually go study with those teachers in person. Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. 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 underlaying technique. Which in an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better armed to do so!

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 Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

The Expectant Cross

The Expectant Cross

For most Lead/ers (and Leads) we lead the Argentine Cross so often that we stop thinking about actually leading it and it just sort of ‘happens’. The reason it just happens is because of it’s ubiquitousness, its frequency. You do this enough times and even the most battle hardened Follower will cross their feet just to shut you up so that you’ll stop asking for the damned thing! 

The Problem: This is clearly a Lead/er (and Lead) issue. Contrary to what you may have been told the Argentine Cross is not two steps outside partner and the Follower automagically crosses their feet. If that were true then walking on 3 tracks would never happen. No the problem is the fact that we, as Leads, are expectant that we go to the cross, and then the cross just magically happens. We walk, they cross. Viola! Moving on to other things. Not! No. Not ‘moving on to other things’. The problem here is that you, as a a lead, are entirely expectant of the Follower crossing their feet every 20 steps.

From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue, the other 90% is your Lead. The fact is that you should adhere to one singular rule at all times (as a Passive Follow, not as an Active Follow — not yet at least). The rule (again as a Passive Follow – this rule doesn’t apply to the Active Follow) ? If you don’t feel it, you don’t go there. It’s a pretty simple rule really. If it’s not led, then you don’t go there. More clearly – if you’re not aware of what your Lead is proposing, suggesting, inviting, engaging, while they’re attempting to being insanely clear about what they’re leading – minus the arm pulling, tension, resistance, forcing, pushing, and pulling that generally passes for leading at most milongas….assuming there is none of that business going on, then there’s only one thing left: If you didn’t feel it, then there’s absolutely no reason for you to do anything. Period. No lead ? Then listen (note the language there….’listen‘ not wait….’listen‘ for what’s going on). Do not give the Lead a Cross, simply because they stepped outside partner and took two steps. Unless, and there is always an unless, one of two conditions has been met. Condition 1.) They’ve actually generated the proper conditions for an argentine cross to exist. or 2.) It’s at a Milonga. If it’s at a Class, a Practica, a Guided Practica, a Workshop, or a Seminar, then don’t cross your feet unless led to do so. Assuming what’s already been discussed. Every time that you do give a Lead a Cross, it reinforces the belief that they’ve led things in a desirable manner that is conducive to dancing. And every time that you don’t, you force the lead to … well … actually guide, invite, suggest, cajole, propose, intend,… ummm lead a cross! Mind you a discussion might ensue of why you’re not crossing your feet. Which may involve a teacher or two getting a teacher to discuss the matter. But that’s what they are there for anyway. 😉 

At the same time, because we’ve broached the subject of the Role of the Active Follower, you do have a golden opportunity here because your lead isn’t clear, they’re not necessarily paying attention to what they’re leading at this point, this is an opportunity for you to interject an idea or two. More important to our point: To take a modicum of control and quite literally, if not factually, redirect the next step! I know…HERESY! Absolute Heresy! How dare I advocate a Follower interjecting an idea of their own….eeeek!

Believe it or not, you can slow the Lead down at this point to accentuate what’s happening in the music, you can speed it up, you can even control what step will happen next, and more importantly where you want to go! That’s a part of being an Active Following, we want to start to engage with what’s going on! That’s why the language above is LISTEN and not WAIT! 

However, as an Active (not Passive) Follow, there are 2 rules that we have to adhere to as Followers in this instance: 1.) If it’s not in the music, then it’s not on the floor! 2.) If you’re going to redirect the lead, then you have to have an exit strategy for where you’re going next and more importantly how to get out of things! In other words – a plan! To be fair it is important to recognize that a good portion of Leads freak right out when you ‘screw up‘ (which is really their fault to begin with because they weren’t clear) and then you take responsibility for by saying "sorry".  One can only imagine if you interject an idea or two and watch what happens then. Talk about losing your proverbial mind! Good lord. So a.) Pick your Leads very carefully with this ‘active’ Following business, and b.) whatever you do, it’s got to be musically driven!

While this post is not on the Role of the Active Follower per se, it does touch on it considerably because the cross is all about the role of the active Follower for a variety of reasons most notably because the Cross is the Follower’s vocabulary, not the Lead’s. That said it should be noted that as a Follower, this whole Active Follower business is a little scary at first but once you open the door way to that happening….really cool things can occur! Cool and wonderful things actually. 

From a Leading Perspective, 90% of the reason why the Follower does not cross their feet is really your issue. Let’s call a spade, a spade: You expect a cross to just ‘magically‘ happen. The fact is that a good 99% of your crosses aren’t led in any way, shape, or form. You step into a parallel system cross (not exactly the most elegant crossing structure in the world, it screams ‘beginner lead’ ) and then take 2 steps, and the Follower just ‘crosses’ because they’re supposed to. Right ? There’s no question in your mind, or theirs. Right ? The problem is that is the problem! You’re not actually leading. You’re abdicating control of options and opportunities for both roles at this point. Every time that you expect a cross to magically happen, you create the situation for the Follower to actually take control and choose what’s going to happen next, whether or not you or they are aware of it. Mind you a good portion of Followers don’t do this, and they should because it opens options and opportunities for us to make other choices. At the beginning those choices are haphazard and untried and you’re going to stumble a bit. But in the end your versatility goes right through the proverbial roof! And we want our versatility to do precisely that! 

We want to encourage an active participation behavior from our Followers because it makes them feel as though they have a voice in the dance. Why ? Answer – Imagine someone dictating to you what you should do all day long. Every hour of every day. You have a mind of your own, and you do like to solve problems your own way. You don’t like to be told what to do or what to think. But that’s exactly what you’re telling your Follower to do each and every time you dance with them. "Don’t think. Don’t move, unless I say so. Don’t have an idea! That’s my job!". How boring is that ? Ideally you want them to be a co-creating partner in the dance. Not just a vocabulary plaything. Which is precisely what they are now. By going at things in a slightly different way,  you open the doorway to a far more satisfying and co-creating dancing experience than anything else! Don’t mishear this as ‘Passive’ dancing is bad (which is what happens a good portion of the time), it isn’t fun and Miles said….not! Some people like that. They like turning off their ability to chose and would rather let someone else do the driving. But then … (there’s always a ‘then’) a piece of music comes on that they really like and well…they get involved and would like to make a few choices on their own. But unfortunately they’re with a Lead who just doesn’t allow for this stuff. And it feels kind of limiting. And once they’ve gotten used to making a few choices, they’ll want to do more of it and make it a regular part of their dance to interpret those musical ideas they’re having in their head.

Put another way, ideally we want to create ‘space’ for the Follower to have a choice in what they’re being asked to do. Doing so generates a sensation of comfort that you’re allowing the freedom to choose, which in turn generates an investment in what they’re doing and more importantly how they’re doing it. All this from an Argentine Cross

The Dancing Reality is that no matter what’s written here, no matter what I say as a teacher, you’re not going to change what you’re doing. You’re going to keep doing what you do because you a.) don’t know any better. and b.) It’s comfortable. c.) Change is hard. d.) All this business of the Active Follower is absolute crap (unless you’re the Follower in which case, they completely get it). 

Thought is hard. Better…yes…better is hard. So who wants to do all that work to be better when it’s so much easier to just to continue doing the same things over and over again! The reality is that you would rather continue down the pathway that you’re on than to change what you’re doing. The reality is that you like the automagical cross. It just makes things soooo much easier for both partners and really the whole floor if the Follower just crosses their damned feet. It means that as a Lead, you don’t have to think so much.  And as a Follower we can have about 10 seconds of what is essentially 2 and a half minutes of pushing and pulling, of peace.  That’s the reality. 

Fixing it ? Well, there’s a really simple solution, it’s something that both lead and follower must do. Hmmmm, however as a FREE user, you’re not able to see the full solution, you have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you’ll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says "SUBSCRIBE".


The Cross – Getting In Front

The Cross – Getting In Front

For most Followers, that haven’t been properly trained, they are rushed into an Argentine Cross right from the start of their Tango dancing lives. Aside from Ochos, it’s the one thing that they’re pressed to do without any training aside from the Lead/er (Controlling Lead hence the ‘/er’ part) that quite literally tells them what to do as they’re doing it. From that moment, right up until this one (assuming you’ve shared this video with them) they more than likely have no idea a.) why they’re crossing their feet. and b.) more importantly what the point of the Cross is, and c.) what it all means. 

The Problem: This isn’t so much a Lead problem as it is a Follower issue. Contrary to what you might have been told, the Argentine Cross does actually serve a function. And believe it or not, it’s not to do a Cross every 15 seconds for no good goddamned reason. No. The function of the cross…is well, you can watch the video for that part. The problem is that not only is the Follower not aware of what the function of the Cross is, they’ve been so indoctrinated into a passive way of dancing that they’ll a.) Willy-nilly cross their feet due Two of the Five Errors of The Cross – specifically the Automagical Cross and the Wimpy Cross (see below), where in the case of the latter, the Follower has to infer what on god’s green earth the Lead is attempting to do. (In the other 3 cases they don’t have to infer, they’re quite literally forced into crossing their feet whether they wanted to or not). and b.) That a good portion of the time, the Follower will end up in the Lead’s Arm Pit. It is for this reason that we talk about – Getting In Front of Your Lead!

From a Leading Perspective, before we launch into Follower’s side of this. Let’s give credit for this problem, where credit is due. The Lead! Dude, a good 90% of this problem is your fault. Let’s be clear about responsibility here. You created this problem and the Follower is only doing their best trying to fix it. How did this become your problem ? 1.) You lined up with the Follower in your Arm Pit! You placed them in there right from the gitgo (‘start‘ for the non-native english speakers), and what’s worse is that you kept them there, holding them in that spot, because it was convenient for you to pull off some crazy vocabulary, which you think you need to lead every 20 seconds, instead of (gasp!) actually walking with your Follower to the music. Eeeek! Which for some reason is ‘boring’ to you but heaven to them…gosh I wonder why !?!?!?  2.) Your embrace that you think is comfortable is like laying on a bed of nails because it’s too compressive! Think ‘squeeze‘ and you’ll get the right idea. And even if someone tells you that to lighten up and let them loose, you’ll go right back to squeezing the daylights out of your partners because to you think, a.) this is comfortable. and b.) it’s all you know. 3.) Because your right arm is like a vice grip and you have this rather nasty tendency to paddle your Follower’s with your right hand to ‘direct’ them, you somehow believe that this is desirable. Ummmmm not! And lastly you created this problem by 4.) being too damned restrictive and not being responsible by continually placing the Follower in front of you by repositioning your vocabulary to do just that. Instead, doing all 3 previous things to show off to keep the Follower from realizing that you were completely ignorant about 3 steps in and don’t have a plan for the rest of the song let alone for the tanda! Yup, your fault.

From a Following Perspective, 10% of this problem is your issue. And it has to do with you understanding that the Cross is actually, in modern Tango, your piece of vocabulary. Not the Lead’s, it’s yours! There are many people that will disagree with this statement that the Cross is the Follower’s vocabulary. The fact is that without you cooperating, the Argentine Cross, is not going to happen. You could say this about almost everything else in Tango, that without you cooperating nothing happens. And you’d be right. However in this instance, this is one of the few places where the Follower has an enormous amount of control of when something is done, how something is done, and most importantly where we go next! All of that from you crossing your feet. In this instance, this one little piece of vocabulary is YOUR place for you to shine, to sparkle, to show off your skillz as a Follower. Instead, what happens ? Well…watch the video.

To be fair, you have to contend with the Five Errors of the Cross (see above), and then there’s the squeezing, the pushing, the pulling from your Leads. And then there are your issues, while in heels, to contend with. That aside, you do have an issue which is solely yours, which is the whole point of this topic – to get back in front of your lead!

The simple fact is that your lead (the action, not the person – lowercase ‘l’) either stepped outside partner or stepped into cross system and in either case you’re essentially out of step with them. The whole point of the cross is to get back in front of your Lead (the person).  However, part of your issue is that you’ve been indoctrinated to a way of moving that quite factually doesn’t work for you. The way that you’re moving is to send your leg straight back, and really to cross your body meridian away from the couple. This creates a problem for you, especially when you come to collect your feet in the cross. Your feet look like two mismatched and broken sticks pointing in opposite directions from each other with a watermelon in between them, instead of what they can look like. We do want pretty feet, but we don’t want pretty knees, when we come to collection and even crossed collection! However, there’s a tiny little problem in that your body is in the wrong place, and your hips are all twisted and you’re basically out of alignment with your Lead, and on top of all of that, you’re stuck in the Lead’s arm pit! And there you will stay…sadly. 🙁 Unless…you do something about it. 🙂

The Dancing Reality is that this stuff happens with such frequency that no one, not even the teachers that you’re studying with pay it any mind. It’s so common place that one wonders if anyone is actually teaching technique to specifically create this issue! "Leads! You place the follower in your arm pit, and then rush around the room, all the while pulling and pushing! Followers, your whole job here is to stay in the Lead’s armpit and then to come to a crossed collection so that your hips are all twisted up and you’re off to the side of your lead! Ready ? Go!". Not! 

Fixing it ? Well, there’s a really simple solution, it’s something that both lead and follower must do.  

Hmmmm, however you actually haven’t registered as a user of this site, so you’re not able to see the full solution, and even then you’d have to upgrade to either a Silver, Gold, or Diamond level user! Once you do that you’ll be able to see this solution to this problem as well as over 100+ videos on tango technique, codigos, and more. Just click that little button below that says "SUBSCRIBE".

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day.


Scroll to top