Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

Open post

Golden Nugget Extensions

Golden Nugget Extensions

The Tango Walk is the hallmark of Argentine Tango. It is what sets Tango apart as a social dance, and a performance element. For some people when they talk about the Tango walk, they don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, it’s just there. For some they hear the words that the walk is important but for one reason or another they just don’t get it. For others, they see that the walk is absolutely everything. It’s the bee’s knees. Anything and everything is possible once you have mastered the walk. Some people only see the walk as what one does in between the vocabulary (the steps, patterns, and figures). However you view the walk, the walk consists of four phases, not a singular element. The 1st of those 4 phases is what we call The Explosion Phase. This is where all the energy for the step is generated. It only happens for a moment. After that the energy dissipates in a controlled fashion throughout the rest of the step. The 2nd phase is The Extension Phase. This is where the leg actually, and fully extends, to a point. The 3rd phase is what we call The Perihelion Phase. In this phase we ‘pop’ the knee, meaning to fully elongate the entire knee area thereby creating a longer and cleaner extension of the leg. This phase is important because it is the mid-point of the step. And finally the 4th phase, The Transfer Phase. In this phase we do four things in sequence. 1.) We begin a sliding action along the floor with the free foot, shaping it, and engaging in supination. 2.) We begin to transfer our weight from one foot to the other, in this case the sliding foot. 3.) We allow the energy of the Explosion Phase to dissipate in a controlled way. And finally 4.) We allow the knee to flex back to the point of compression that we started out with.

Why are we talking about this stuff ? Because Today’s Tango Topic relies heavily on three of these 4 phases to begin playing with what we call Golden Nugget Extensions.

What are Golden Nugget Extensions ? We need to back up a bit and explain The Golden Nugget of Tango (TGNoT). TGN is where Today’s Topic gets the basis of it’s name from. TGN is not just another piece of Tango Vocabulary. It makes the idea of Tango very accessible and removes a lot of doubt of what’s going to happen next. It is one of the very few patterns that Tango Topics actually endorses, and teaches, with some frequency. TGN can be very useful in interpreting the music, meaning that it works really well in all 3 styles of Tango Music (tango, vals, and milonga). It is also exceptionally extensible, meaning that you while you have the basic pattern of it, you can change it, modify it, and add to it, adorn it, edit it to fit what you’re doing from a Leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. There are loads of places in TGN where the Follower has oooodles of control over what’s happening. But that’s a topic for another day to be filed under – The Role of the Active Follower.

And now we get to the other half of today’s explanation. The title (Golden Nugget Extensions) is a both a double-entendre as well as a deliberate explanation of what it is. First and foremost, it is taking TGN and adding an expansion pack to it. Things you probably hadn’t thought of when playing with TGN assuming that you have watched the video and learned something from it. Secondly, it’s also applying an element of Tango that doesn’t get a whole lot of usage except maybe in Milonga: The Incremental Step (Traspie) & The Check Step. Golden Nugget Extensions fuses these two important elements into one core concept that you want to apply to your dance. This is the Golden Nugget Extensions principle.

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

From a Following Perspective, this is one of the very few times in Argentine Tango where the Follower has oodles of control over what’s being done to and with them, but not when it’s done to and with them. 🙁

The Upside of this stuff. Every single extension, every single  transfer phase, every single perihelion phase you have control. You have control over the execution of the extension itself, how it looks, how it responds, what the shape of your leg looks like, and to a certain degree you have control over where the leg goes, but not when it starts. You have control over where your foot lands (to a certain degree), and what part of your foot you’re going to use. But again, you have absolutely zero control over when something is initiated, and/or when it stops. But you do have a limited amount of control over the duration of the extension, foot placement, and the resulting body position and placement (under certain conditions) assuming that the Lead isn’t squeezing the living daylights out of you, or the Lead isn’t placing you in their Armpit (see: The Armpit Dancer). Assuming all of that, you have more control than you believe you do.

The Downside of this stuff. There’s always a downside with these things. Always. 9 times out of 10, the Lead … you remember the Lead you said “Yes” to their cabeceo ? That one! 9 times out of 10, they’re rushing through X, to get to Y, to arrive at Z. And you have about as much time as it takes to blink as you do to take your sweet time to do X, or for that matter Y, while not even aware that Z is going to happen. Time is a factor you don’t necessarily control here in this stuff. Sadly. However, if you invoke certain aspects of being an Active Follower you can slow down the Lead, deliberately, and thereby give yourself enough time to execute what you desire. There are Seven (7) places where that can happen by the way, which are quite considerable by the way: 1.) The Argentine Cross/All Crosses. 2.) All 3 steps of the Follower’s Molinete & the Lead’s Giro/The Lead’s Molinete/Follower’s Giro, and all 8 Turns including and especially the Follower’s Calisita! 3.) Any of the 8 types of Ochos [a.) Linear Ochos. b.) Milonguero Ochos. c.) Traveling Ochos. d.) Circular Ochos. e.) Over-Rotated Ochos. f.) Anti-Ochos. g.) Milonga Ochos. h.) Time Ochos.]  4.) Paradas. 5.) Barridas. 6.) The Linear Ocho Cortado/The Circular Ocho Cortado. 7.) Any and all Vocabulary Transition (going from one idea to the next).

Mind you this is just a singular step that we’re talking about, and how you can execute it. But that single extension is everywhere, so anywhere you engage is a good thing. Unfortunately some Leads take any level of initiative of their Follower as absolute heresy, and they lose their damned minds. So it’s a good idea to pick your Leads carefully that can handle this stuff otherwise you’ll be labeled a ‘Willful’ Follower and you want no part of that, unless of course you do. 😉 Your call.

The Gotcha. Assuming you want to invoke being an ‘Active Follower’ there are some rules to this stuff. One of which is having mastered your foundation, first and foremost. Which means, no hanging, no pulling, no pushing, no resistance, tension, or force. Ever. It also means stability. No using your hands or arms to stabilize yourself against your Lead in 3in heels. Got it ? Secondly it means understanding the vocabulary mentioned above. It means no longer being ignorant of what you’re being led to, but rather being keenly aware that X is happening and then attempting to inject an idea if there’s space for it. Thirdly it means being musically cognisant of the beat, the musical pauses, and the musical phrases (not phrasing, you have no control over that one). And lastly, it means having a plan. It’s the last one that we’re most interested in because while the first three are absolute requirements, the last 1 has a slight bend to it. Meaning ? That if you’re going to play Ms. Active Follower, then you had damned well better have an exit plan. That if you plan to interject an idea you need to have planned out ahead of time what you could possibly do, and then fit it in, and then here’s the kicker…it must match what is happening in the music. Period. If it’s not in the music, then it’s not on the floor. Got it ?

From a Leading Perspective, playing with Extensions is loads of fun. It’s the game changer that adds nuance to your dance. You’ve been thinking that only vocabulary can save or turn your dance around. Most Leads make this mistake, and they overlook the one thing that have going for them here: Playing with the Follower’s Extension. And truth be told, a whole bunch of other things which we’ll touch on below.

A Few Rules before we get to the fun part:

Rule #1: Do Not repeat yourself. Meaning ? No repetitions. Or try to keep it to an absolute minimum.

Rule #2: Do Not overuse this stuff. Meaning ? While you can interject these ideas as accent or ‘spice’ material, do not make the whole of your dance. The example above shows you one idea but it’s not the only way to do this.

Rule #3: Do Not copy what you see above. Ok, that’s not entirely clear. So let’s make it clear. Copy what you see above, but don’t outright steal it. Use this as a jumping off point to create some ideas of your own.

Rule #4: Do Not Squeeze, Pull, Push, Use your Arms or Hands to direct, and/or tilt your head into or away from your Follower.

Rule #5: Always. Posture. Posture. Posture.

The Fun Part. Below are 5 of the more important hotspots in this idea video. And that’s exactly what this is. It’s a way for you to expand your ideas to add nuance to your dance.

1.) First and foremost, this is really extending the Golden Nugget of Tango. It is augmenting it. Changing it. Modifying with the simplest of things, Leg Extensions,  Weight Transfers, and Incremental Steps!

2.) All Extension Steps are available to you as options to ‘play with’. Side, Back, and Forward. In that order of operations. Arguably the easiest of these things to play with is the Side Extension. Next is the Follower’s Backstep, and finally the Follower’s Forward step. That last one is very uncommon but it’s still doable.

3.) All steps can be Incrementals Steps. All are available to you as options to play with. So if there’s an extension you can add an incremental as an option to add variations.

4.) All Traveling Ochos, Linear Ochos, Ochos Reversals, and Incremental Ochos are available to you as options to engage. Musically of course!

5.) All Crosses can be reversed, slowed down, sped up, or made incremental.

Quite honestly there are so many options here to augment your dance, these are just the high points. Seriously there’s a reason why this video was shot and this is it: Because there are so many options that you can play with, and these items mentioned above are just the hot spots. There are more in the video.

The Gotcha. The entire Golden Nugget Extension relies on one thing: Your ability to hear the beat and execute anything and everything you desire on the beat. And secondarily, and probably most importantly, your ability to respect the Musical Pauses. If you can’t hear them, or you don’t know what they are, then this entire topic is a complete and utter waste of your time. You must, must, must, must have mastered keeping musical time, hearing the beat, executing on the beat, and respecting the pauses. Otherwise this stuff looks out of place. This entire topic relies heavily on your ability to hear the pulse or beat of the music. It is strongly not advised to try this stuff with ‘Melodic Dancing’ ideas of Fresedo or Late Di Sarli. Meaning to play with the long-stringy notes. This stuff works ideally with Canaro, Donato, D’Arienzo, OTV, Lomuto, Biagi, Laurenz, Varela, De Caro, Demare, early Pugliese, and early Di Sarli. De Angelis, late Troilo, Late Pugliese (anything from the late 50s and beyond), Piazzolla, Caló, and Fresedo will NOT work. Which is to say, if you haven’t studied your orchestras, if you don’t know your music cold, then playing with the Golden Nugget Extensions is good practice but it’s musical application is absolutely crucial to your success!

The Fundamental Truth. The fact is that this is walking. Nothing more than that. Don’t get confused. Don’t get lost. Don’t focus on anything else but that. You are playing with the extension phase of the walk. If that walk for either role is unstable, unclear, not visually clean, then you’re going to have problems like nobody’s business. If you haven’t mastered your foundation, then playing with this stuff is like building a rickety house, on a shoddy foundation. It will look sloppy, and will feel even worse. That’s the fundamental truth. So it behooves (15 cent word) you to get the into some private lessons and clean up your walk. This topic is a wonderful toy! It’s musical. It has great potential of adding serious nuance that borders on going down the proverbial rabbit hole to what you otherwise would think of as “boring vocabulary” becomes anything but.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 11m:27s in length in 7 sections. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated into the video.

Sacada Introduction – 00:03:26
Sacada Review – 00:02:37
Follower Technique – Part 1 – 00:01:15
Lead Technique – Part 1 – 00:00:50
Lead Technique – Part 2 – 00:01:05
Follower Technique – Part 2 – 00:00:55
Quick Examples – 00:01:20

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Close Embrace SacadasArticle/Download

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you are reading this topic in the hopes that it may get you to question and to dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, this topic only scratches the surface. Because you’re only seeing half of the information. You really do need to see all of it. If you had registered or ponied up the kingly sum of $7.95 for your first week, then you’d either see a free tip here, or if you’re a paying subscriber you’d see some detailed notes about the video that were either left out of the video or were an afterthought to the video after it was shot! However, because you haven’t gone and registered at least, you’re missing some helpful information that could give you a tip to making your dance a better experience for you and your partners!

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.

Open post

The Golden Nugget (updated)

The Golden Nugget of Tango

The Golden Nugget of Tango. Once long ago you were an itty-bitty Tango dancer. You could barely walk, the music was either intriguing or unappealing at best, one or the other. The very idea of going to a Milonga as a neophyte dancer where everyone and god could see just how much you were sucking raw eggs just about scared the bejeebers out of you. Then as you took a few classes, went to a few more milongas you started to feel like you knew what you were doing, sort of. You may have learned a few ‘steps’, gotten some feedback about what you’re supposed to do from a variety of people, you were possibly exposed to a Traveling Ocho, and the Follower’s Molinete (Leading and Following it), and most certainly the Argentine Cross. While at the same time, sort of seeing and hearing that there was an idea to the music but it was too vague for you to ‘get’ immediately other than there was a beat. You saw people dancing very close, and learned that this was called ‘Close Embrace’. You learned about the line of dance, about navigation and floorcraft (not the same things by the way), and something called ‘Cabeceo’…just to name a few. All along the way you made a few friends, people you enjoyed dancing with and enjoyed the learning process. And in the end you still feel like you had a lot to learn. This entire process of feeling like a ‘Social Dancer’ usually took anywhere from 6 months to a year at minimum, depending on the role you were dancing. And even less if you were role swapping right from the beginning!

What if there were another way ? What if you could have learned a way to Tango that encompassed all of that stuff, but quite literally took 1/10th the time! What if there were a particular pattern that you could use (as a Lead or a Follow) that would’ve allowed you to dance all the foundational vocabulary, that respected the line of dance, protected the follower, but wasn’t repetitive at all unless you wanted it to be! What if there was a pattern that was insanely musical, highly extensible, and easily modified, and easily learned! What if ? Sounds like sales hyperbole huh ? Thank god it’s not.

You would think that for the beginner dancer such a thing would be a god-send, for either role for a variety of obvious reasons! You would think that for the person that’s been dancing a while, the advancing dancer who has already gone through that trial above, for either role, that they’d clearly love such a thing because it addresses 2 of their primary concerns: 1.) what do I next ? and 2.) I hope I don’t screw up! 

Enter The Golden Nugget of Argentine Tango.

Linking Notation: All the links on this site are internal definition links, nothing is external (excluding tangotopics youtube channel, and facebook like & share links), meaning the links are there to create a deeper and richer clarity.

Purchase! The video above is small snippet of a full HD video (total runtime: 31m:49s). You can purchase The Argentine Wrap for just 34.99 not including your level discount. You can get a $3.00 discount if you register to see the discount code!

What is The Golden Nugget of Tango ?  It is a Tango Topics construct, meaning ? It is a very irregular piece of Tango vocabulary you won’t find any other teacher or youtube video on it. It is one of the very few patterns or ‘steps’ that Tango Topics actively promotes as a very useful tool that you can take out social dancing today, right now! Unlike 98% of tango patterns that only work under certain conditions, The Golden Nugget can be used in all three dances, all night long, and never be repeated. Put simply this is everything you will ever need to know in order to dance Argentine Tango in one complete package. This is not sales boast, or sales hyperbole. It’s demonstrable fact. The author is living proof of that fact!

The Golden Nugget (as it is affectionately called) contains the 7 basic ‘moves’ (seriously -> see the link) that you must master in order to dance. However, no one teaches it. And that’s because until recently it didn’t exist. Most Tango teachers will start you off with walking, and then possibly to Ochos, and then show you the dreaded ‘8 Count Basic’ which leads to an Argentine Cross, and/or show you the Ocho Cortado as a place to start pattern wise. And in doing so you, the unwitting student will end up repeating, and regurgitating the same move over and over and over again which makes them appear like a dance studio baby. 🙁

The Golden Nugget on the other hand replaces all of that stuff. Every. Last. Bit. Not that you don’t need to know walking, ochos, or crosses. No, you should study your walk. Not that you should not study your ochos and perfect them. You rightly should. Not that you shouldn’t rightfully practice the Follower’s Molinete. No. You should do all that stuff. That ‘stuff’ is insanely important and as every advanced dancer will tell you they’re constantly revisiting their foundation to clean up their issues.

The Golden Nugget solves the two problems above as well. It removes the uncertainty of what to do next because that decision is quite literally embedded into the solution itself. It also removes the problem of not wanting to screw up either and forces you work on and try to execute better or cleaner technique.

This is the The Golden Nugget of Tango in broad stroke.

Difficulty Rating: (3 / 5) The Super Ocho is going to kill!

From A Following Perspective this is Side, Back, Back, a Super Ocho (Over-rotated Ochos), and then an Argentine Cross! Not too complicated. Right ? And that’s because it’s not. This is something that you’ve done 10,000 times. The difference here, and what makes learning the Golden Nugget useful for you is that it can and will challenge you to work on your foundation because it is all foundational work! Meaning ? You’re going to want to hone your foundation on a regular basis in order to dance this seemingly simple but very complex piece of vocabulary. Unlike most steps, patterns, and figures that are useless for because they don’t really do anything for you as a whole, the Golden Nugget does just the polar opposite. It forces you to revisit your foundation and to work on three key elements:

Your Back Step. What Follower couldn’t use a bit more work on their back step. And have space and time to actually create an elegant back step that makes you look like a million dollars ? Every Follower wants that. The Golden Nugget allows you to work on that independent of the Lead! Just the steps themselves, gives you something to practice, an idea to focus on in your back steps!

Your Ochos. Every Follower needs to work on their Disassociation and then their Applied Disassociation which when put together can be executed as an Ocho but in it’s component elements allows for so many more options and opportunities for the Follower to expand their capabilities!

Your Crosses. There’s never enough time to actually work on this stuff. Really. Usually we end up with ‘Dirty Crosses’ but what would happen if you had a piece of vocabulary that you could immediately teach to a lead that would allow you to work on the Argentine Cross and your crosses and at the same time ? Would the be of interest to you ? Because the Golden Nugget is insanely extensible you are never assured that the cross will occur in the same place twice! Which forces to actually listen to the lead AND then put that cross into it’s proper place not just because you KNOW there’s supposed to be a cross there!

From a Leading Perspective the Golden Nugget is all about Tango toys for you. ‘Toy’ in the respect that it means options and opportunities to do different things, as well as create a sense of certainty with what can happen next.

Frequently most leads are stuck as to what to do next, so they end up doing the same things over and over again which essentially boils down to, on a crowded dance floor, turn, turn, turn, cross, turn some more! Turn to the left, turn to the right, vary the speed of the turn, then cross and then start again. At some point along the curve this same lead is thinking they need to be on beat, and very distantly they’re thinking about floorcraft.

The Golden Nugget solves all of those problems in three very distinct ways because it opens the doorway to:

Line of Dance & Floorcraft. You’re going to have to learn about this stuff eventually and the Golden Nugget reinforces this idea without there being a conscious thought or someone dictating to you that you must follow the line of dance. Because of it’s singular linear nature, you’re going to end up following the line of dance anyway. As a result of the execution of the Golden Nugget you will reinforce good Floorcraft skills, again mostly without the need to have someone dictate to you. But rather as a happenstance of the structure of the Golden Nugget itself.

Versatility. While the basic of the Golden Nugget for you is really leading the Follower to execute Side, Back, Back, a Super Ocho (Over-rotated Ochos), and then an Argentine Cross! The fact is that you do NOT need to do this pattern in exactly the same way over and over again. Truth be told you can execute this in nearly any fashion you like! You could for instance execute Back, Back, Side, Super Ocho, Super Ocho, and then an Argentine Cross! Or Argentine Cross, Forward, Side, Side (change directions), Back, Back, Ocho, Ocho, Ocho, Super Ocho, Cross. It can be taken apart and put back together in almost any order you like. And because there other implied movements within the structure it’s easy to add them…which leads to the next idea.

Extensibility. The Golden Nugget allows for you to not only change the order or how things are done – to modify them, and the timing, but also to add, drop-in other ideas like: A forward traveling ocho, a molinete instead of a cross at the end, or in the middle because of the Super Ocho lends itself very well to being turned into the Follower’s Molinete. There’s a possible Lead Molinete there as well, as well as a Calecita right at the point of the Super Ocho. There are a host of Sacadas (nearly a hundred common ones of the 501 possible Sacadas) on nearly every step including the Cross for both roles. There are Incremental Steps nearly everywhere, which work well on the back and side steps. There are Check Steps too that are sitting there! There are implied Rock Steps on nearly every step, except for the Cross. There’s even an Ocho Cortado that’s sitting there out of the cross! All possible if you just expand your thinking a bit.

And all of this is accessible and addressable to the music that’s playing in any tempo. Any Tempo. Any Style of the Music: Tango, Vals, or Milonga! It works extensively well in milonga as well. Why ? Because Milonga Porteña is usually danced in the linear, and the Golden Nugget is linear and very briefly is it circular!

Deeper Extensibility.  You can go much deeper than the typical Golden Nugget, by adding Golden Nugget Extensions (for just $24.99). Essentially it’s playing with the Follower’s Extensions (hence the name), as well as the Lead’s possible extensions as well. It uses the Golden Nugget as the guide point, and then plays with every possibility that you can think of and some that you haven’t! Both products (the Golden Nugget AND Golden Nugget Extensions) can be purchased as a bundle for just $69.99.

About The Video. This video comes in at 31m:16s in length in 12 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Lead – 00:02:42
Section 2 – Follow – 00:02:03
Section 3 – Lead/Follow Together – 00:01:50
Section 4 – Linking Step 1 – 00:02:03
Section 5 – Linking Step 2 – 00:03:40
Section 6 – The “Why” – 00:01:36
Section 7 – Set Up – 00:02:26 (the video above minus the golden nugget)
Section 8 – Close Embrace Version – 00:01:22
Section 9 – Embrace Clarities- 00:04:51
Section 10 – Versatility – 00:01:25
 Section 11 – Cross System – 00:04:38
Section 12 – Example – 00:02:50

It can be purchased for $49.99 (don’t forget the 10.00 discount) or downloaded as part of your subscription with your discount!

From a Dancing Perspective the Golden Nugget is a dancing cornucopia if for no other reason because of its extensibility! Whereas most patterns or sequences must be done in the exact same way each and every time which is why you must learn multiple multiples of them in order to seem like you’re dancing to the music and not just regurgitating the same idea over and over again. As a result of that regurgitation the Follower quickly knows your spiel, they know what you’re about to do. They could literally set their watch by it. The Golden Nugget on the other hand is anything but repetitive!

A Little Story. When I first learned this my teacher sent me out into the Tango world almost immediately afterwards (after spending about 5 days on it) and I went to my 1st milonga. I sat there most of the night without the intention to dance because I knew I wasn’t ready for it. Along about midnight and the end of the milonga a friend that came with me asked me to dance and I freaked right out. She finally pulled me to the floor and I had to dance. So I tried the only thing I knew – The Golden Nugget (mind you it wasn’t called that then). 4 steps in and I ran into people, I crossed lanes of dance, I even stepped on some poor lady’s foot! I went back to my teacher the next day and said “this f*cking thing doesn’t work!!!!“. He smiled and asked “Why not ?“. I told him what had happened the night before. He laughed and said, “Miles, you oriented the wrong way going down the line of dance and instead….” can you guess ? I went across the lanes of dance! I could have screamed. I learned a very valuable lesson that day, one that would carry me forward. Not all is at it appears and to investigate why something works! I hadn’t. From that day to this one. I always ask….always.

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 31m:16s HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Golden Nugget and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $10.00 discount if you register as a free user, and then buy it with the discount code contained here that you can’t see yet. 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 and walk you through the how the Golden Nugget works! That’s why! 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that’s what they are ‘Presentation’ videos. The couple’s that you’re used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that 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.  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! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these 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 be done with it. 😉

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.

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 prepared 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.

Open post

The Four Parts of Social Milonga

Social Milonga

Milonga, and really ‘Social’ Milonga, is a difficult dance to Lead, but an easy one to Follow. Easy, if and only if, the Lead (person, not the action – ‘lead’) has a frakkin’ clue about what they’re doing. If they don’t, you, as the Follower are screwed and not in a good way either! Good Milonga is a step above modern Tango in that it requires both parties to be at their best technique wise. It requires both parties to understand an embrace that is non-compressive, non-restrictive, and have mastered a stable, clean, clear walking platform that does not ‘thud’. There is no need to ‘hang’, ‘pull’, or ‘push’ in any way, shape, or form. 

Let’s get a few terms and definitions out of the way before we go any further for the initiated and the uninitiated. The word ‘Milonga‘ has 3 definitions.

1.) It refers to the ‘dance’ party, and social experience that we aspire towards dancing at via classes and workshops and learning the codigos of the dance itself. The whole point of tango is to emulate the Milonga experience as a whole that we would find in Buenos Aires.

2.) It refers to a musical style of music that is typically written as 2/4 time, or at about 80 – 100 beats per minute. There are several versions of Milonga music, not the least of which is Tango-Milonga, Milonga Porteña, Milonga Criolla, and a few others. Candombe is not Milonga, but is frequently confused with Milonga. A poorly trained DJ will add one into a milonga tanda thinking that it’s Milonga music when in fact it’s not.

Further still, a common error is to add a Foxtrot or a Tango Foxtrot, thinking that it’s milonga when it’s not.

3.) Refers to the dance itself, which is a frequently, and mistakenly thought of as a subset of Tango movement, and this is an error. Milonga (not Milonga Porteña or Modern Milonga) begat Tango, and from that Tango as we think of it today grew.

What is ‘Social’ Milonga ? Social Milonga is a Milonga of ease, of least resistance, of effortlessness. It’s what we would dance at the Milonga when Milonga music is played but for a social environment not a performance! Which translates to smaller (very small) movements, and steps. This isn’t about turns, ganchos, volcadas, sacadas, colgadas, death drops, …. no, none of that. Simple, clean, small movement. Rather it’s about linear movements with one’s partner in either close or open embrace (yes Milonga can be done in open embrace), small linear movements that move down the line of dance. Social Milonga should not back up against the line of dance, but rather angle against the line of dance, think of 45º angles so that no one backs up directly into another couple. Social Milonga is small, compact, and doesn’t need to take up a whole lot of space…ever.  Horacio Godoy, who is a god of Milonga, is a good example of performance milonga, but it’s still a performance! What he’s doing is nothing short of magical, however…it should be noted that again, it’s a performance and not social dancing. He’s taking up oodles of space, and in the line of dance, you don’t have oodles of space! This is Social Milonga.  

Just as a side note: Social Milonga rightfully should never be attempted with a new partner that you’ve never danced with before.

From a Following Perspective, you’re in for a rough ride, because a good portion of your leads don’t have a frakkin’ clue as to what they’re doing when it comes to Milonga. They will either race you around the floor and take a breather in odd places that have no relationship to anything that’s happening in the music, all the while squeezing the living daylights out of you, hoping you won’t notice that they’re not anywhere close to a beat that has any relation to anything that’s happening in the music. Or they’re so timid as to not wanting to step on your toes because they’ve recognized that this is insanely difficult that they back off completely. That’s the bulk of your experience. It’s rare, ever so rare that you have a lead that dances Milonga Lisa with you, and then expands that to Milonga con Traspie, and actually builds a milonga experience on the whole. These leads are rare, but oh such a wonder when you find one. It’s like Christmas morning, Easter day, and a box of chocolates all rolled into one! Fab! At the same time, let’s not kid ourselves…you as the Follower, have to be up for the challenge. Which is to say that your skills in Forward steps, Side Steps, and Back Steps must be absolutely spot on! Repeat after me: “I MOVE ME“. You must be responsible for your own movement. You must listen to what is being led (not waiting but listening) and then engage that movement immediately without fail. If you feel it, you go there, if you don’t feel it, you don’t go there. A good portion of the time, most followers fail these most basic things. And we end up with a less than desirable experience. 

From a Leading Perspective, it means that you must have mastered all of the things listed above in addition to understanding and employing ‘intention’ because Milonga is all about the small, the tiny movements. It’s not about big, galloping steps…it can be, but isn’t. It’s about the tiny movements between the partners to the accents in the music. However, the real key to milonga is the weight change. Being able to generate it in its myriad of forms without pushing, pulling, or using force or compression. If you can lead a weight change through opposition or a with-weight change instead of pushing or pulling, you’re onto a better class of leading as a whole.

From a Dancing Perspective, ‘Social‘ Milonga is insanely difficult to master. It requires all of the above to ‘work’, to ‘function’ with ease. Not an easy task at all. When done properly it’s simply divine. When done poorly…well we’ve all had that happen, and it’s just an absolute disaster. There’s no nice way to put that. More often than not we have all had far too many Milonga tandas that is nothing short of “GAWD PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!”. And a good portion of the time it’s because the embrace needs to be reset and is too restrictive, and/or the Lead (person), needs to actually listen to the beat and then walk (see ? walking, not running) the Follower on that beat…but doesn’t.

spicy dancing ideas

The Musical Prerequisite

There is an absolute prerequisite to this milonga business – two things about Tango Music as whole that you, as a Lead, or a Follower must know: 

a.) The Musical Pause in Tango Music as a whole! Without understanding this, you’re kinda screwed when it comes to dancing and really milonga as a whole. Oh and if you’re thinking that you can just ‘count’ beats and that will get you to your pauses…no. Fully 40% of Tango music does not contain an 8 count beat. Sometimes its a derivative of 4 yes…but sometimes it’s 4,8,12,16, or 24 beats before you hit an actual rest. So counting is about as useful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged. Why ? Because a good portion of the time, your count will be off for a variety of reasons. 1.) The transfer from shellac to digital (assuming it’s that direct and it almost never is) is probably flawed, scratchy, crackly, and slows down and speeds up. and 2.) Two words for you — TANGO MILONGA, which is to say that that the 2/4 time signature that you’re used to hearing in Milonga Porteña (or Modern Milonga), not so much with that! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Long story short, you want to actually learn to hear the 5 Major Types of Pauses in Tango Music.

b.) The Rhythm of Milonga which should not be confused with beat, melody, nor tempo, which is what a lot of you do.

To understand the Rhythm of Milonga, rather than show you charts and images which are about as helpful as a screen door on a submarine…let’s skip to a class summary by Oliver Koklier and Silvina Valz shot at the 2009 Portland Tango Festival. This is probably one of the best didactic Milonga videos you will need to see…ever. What Oliver & Silvina talk about in under 9 minutes will blow your mind. It’s a simple, clean, and clear didactic explanation of what Milonga Rhythm is and is not. Quite honestly contained within this video is the basis of almost everything you need to know about a Milonga Rhythm. Once you understand the Rhythm of Milonga (and it is a rhythm, not a beat!) it is only then that we start to talk about what you actually do with it. 

thoughts about tango ?

4 Parts of Social Milonga

Part 1.) The Baldosa Box & one of several Baldosa Box Variations
Part 2.) Milonga Traspie and the many many variations
Part 3.) Scissor & Pendulum steps and variations.
Part 4.) Milonga Patter

This is a Free View of Today’s Tango Topic: It’s Free, you don’t need to register, but to see the rest of what Tango Topics offers you do need to register and then consider becoming a subscriber. Registration is Free, Subscribing will cost you a few pennies. 🙂 This free view is an example of the kinds of information and the detailed information that you will find if you subscribe. This view is one of hundreds of videos and articles on the nature of Argentine Tango and really Social Dancing as a whole. 

Why Should You Subscribe ? You can easily find this stuff on YouTube, right ? There’s plenty of presentation videos out there that can show you what you need to know. There’s just one little tiny problem. This stuff isn’t on YouTube! You can only find this content, and content like it, here on Tango Topics. That’s why!!!

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that’s what they are ‘Presentation’ videos. The couple’s that you’re used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that 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.  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! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these 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 be done with it.

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.

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 prepared 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 subscriber today.

Open post

Tango Articulation

Tango Articulation

(Article Updated: 09/17) The moment you hear the word “Articulation” you’re going to say to yourself, “What the frak does that have to do with Argentine Tango ?”. And you’d be right to ask that question. That’s because this word isn’t necessarily related to Tango all that much, if ever. It’s a Tango Topics term. When we hear the word we’re more than likely to think of its literal iteration, “the formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech. The act of putting into words an idea or feeling of a specified type. The act or manner of uttering a speech sound, especially a consonant”. However, if you’re a music geek, the word has another meaning, “The clarity in the production of successive notes”. In either case, neither of those two definitions have anything to do with Articulation from a Tango Perspective.

What is Tango Articulation ? Articulation and Tango Articulation are the same things, just one is from a Tango perspective: Tango Articulation is a state where by the movement of one’s body parts, specifically the extremities of feet, legs, arms, and hands, create sharp and detailed lines that accentuate the form of the body in relationship to the pleasing and iconic shape of the couple in the embrace. The idea of ‘Articulation’ could mean, but is not limited to, pointing the toes, pointing the foot, generating a horizontal line with the arm around and across the back of your partner, raising of the head and pulling the head backwards towards the spinal column, the elbows, elongating the spinal column….all of these can be ‘Articulation’. Articulation is an accentuation of the form to detail the lines or shape of the dancers at all points along a movement, and in long form, the dance. To be aware of that movement and to create clean, clear, sharp lines of those shapes. So in essence the original English dictionary definition of this word isn’t that far off. Further one might start to think of this particular topic as ‘Posture’. Posture is only one place where Articulation can occur. It’s everywhere, toes, feet, legs, arms, hands, head but not necessarily the ‘trunk’ of the body. In the video above, Articulation is only viewed from the perspective of the feet and toes at first and then later legs. While it’s good focus on feet in this instance, that’s not the only place where Articulation can and should occur! 

For a lot of dancers Tango Articulation is a very foreign idea to a certain extent. And that’s because the moment the some people see it, and truly understand it for what it is, it’s very possible that those people will see it as ‘perfectionism’ and/or ‘performance’ Tango. Yes, it is ‘detailed’ work and for some people, it’s just too much work for them, and this topic is unimportant minutiae. The dance is about ‘fun’ for them, and this is not ‘fun’, it’s work. From their perspective, Articulation is too difficult, an effort to remember (true to a point), hard to practice (lie), not important (another lie), and hard to do (another lie). Yet, at the same time, Articulation is what sets the better dancer apart from the dancer that views this stuff as ‘work’. 

Difficulty Rating:  (0.5 / 5)

From a Following perspective Articulation of one’s feet is what factually defines the elegance that is looked at in ochos, molinetes, crosses, adornments/embellishments. The more that a Follower Articulates, the more the Follower ‘sells the shoes’ as it were, and the move, and in a larger sense…the couple! And by ‘sell’, meaning that the visual presentation is seen as very desirable. Whether or not it’s ‘pleasurable’ is a different story all together.

To be clear, Articulation is not something you’re going to come to on your own. It requires that you have some awareness of what you’re doing and why and that means being exposed to a teacher who can and should point these things out to you…religiously! Just watching this video is NOT enough! You must be kept after, constantly. Why ? Because you’ll slip back to doing what’s comfortable for you.

This is NOT easy work. It’s not like you’ll spend 45 minutes in a class or workshop and then you’ve “got” it. NOT going to happen. This is blistering amounts of detailed work, every day for weeks, if not (depending on your age, and personal work ethic) months on end. You are going to suck at this stuff at first. And then later on, ‘poco a poco’. A little bit at a time…

Going a little deeper, once you start paying attention to this stuff, you’re going to start seeing this stuff EVERYWHERE! Everywhere in others at first, and then later on in you. And so that we’re clear about this, generally not in a good way either. You’ll notice that a good portion of the people that dance around you are generating a ‘sloppiness’ in their Articulations. While this may seem like pointing at other people’s flaws, it’s a good exercise for you so that you can see all the places where this stuff occurs, and it occurs a lot!

The humbling point: Once you think you’ve got a handle on Articulation in yourself, you’ll see that you don’t. How’s that ? This is about learned behavior, and about you unlearning what you have learned and replacing that with a more visually desirable end result. In many ways this is like editing your own words that you’ve written, words that you’ve fallen in love with…and you can’t bear to part with. However you have to in order to make the overall point of your words much better, cleaner, sharper, and on point!

From a Leading perspective it’s easy to dismiss this topic as solely a Follower issue, especially given the video above. That would be unwise. Articulation matters to you as well.

Articulation defines the presentation of the Follower’s movements.

Everywhere.

Why ? While the Lead is leading, they’re quite literally, if not actually, pointing at something the Follower is doing the entire time. For you, as the Lead, your whole thing is about presenting the Follower. The more that you present the Follower, the more people see the couple! The current line of thinking for most Leads is that ‘Presenting the Follower’ means adding oodles of vocabulary (sacadas, colgadas, volcadas, ganchos, boleos, etc) … and while these things have their place, usually these things are poorly executed (sloppy), and ill timed, and so we do not want to use them. Instead we want to add these things as accent, or ‘spice’ to the meal! And the meal is ? Less vocabulary and focusing on the 5 Basics of Social Tango. In short this means: 1.) Walking. 2.) Milonguero Ochos or Traveling Ochos. 3.) Milonguero Turns or Follower’s Molinete. 4.) Crosses & Cortados. and most importantly 5.) Dancing to the Pauses, and Accentuating the Musical Phrase!

The Lead has an incredible responsibility here, and that’s to Articulate wherever possible to accentuate the Follower’s execution, everywhere. However this is typically NOT what happens.

Putting this as simply as is possible: Articulation is not a role issue. It’s a dancer issue. So regardless of whether you dance one role predominantly or not, you still must articulate everywhere.

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you’ll find on Youtube doesn’t explain and walk you through this stuff. So this is one reason why you want access to these video, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that’s what they are ‘Presentation’ videos. The couple’s that you’re used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that 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.  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! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these 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 be done with it. 😉

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. 

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 prepared 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.

Comment Below

Open post

THUD! – Tango Topics

THUD!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Lead, or a Follower, we all at some point have to learn how to walk properly and for a good portion of us learning that proper walk is either an absolute joy, or such a pain in the ass to learn that you wonder why you’re dancing Tango in the first place! Why ? Because learning how to walk, if done properly, is a detailed analysis that seeks to break down the underpinnings of the mechanical aspects of your walk, the weight transitions that must occur, where and how to land on your feet and what parts of your foot you want to use….just to name a few. Walking isn’t just putting one foot in front of the other, as much as we’d like to believe. It’s not. Walking takes time, patience, and a lot of due diligence to move it into the area of ‘desirable’.

One aspect of learning to walk properly is learning what not to do. Unfortunately for a greater number of teachers, and dancers, the idea of giving and receiving feedback that is useful to them is relegated to “That’s nice” and/or “Try this instead” which doesn’t really encourage change. Instead of detailed questions, and constructed feedback that will ultimately lead to desirable dancing, on multiple levels, we end up with feedback that is pleasant and pleasing but not really helpful to change.

Believe it or not this is all relevant to Today’s Tango Topic of “THUD”. Believe it or not you have experienced the idea and practice of THUD so often that you’d think there was a course or class on the idea of THUD. At one point in time, you were even using THUD, and may still be using it and not realizing that you’re generating this. So without further yappage, Tango Topics Presents: THUD!

Notation: And so that we’re clear here, there is no ‘right’ walk, there is no ‘wrong’ walk. There is only a desirable walk, and an undesirable, with lots of shades in between. Going further down the rabbit hole, of the language here, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just simple word replacement. But thought change as well. We want to change our thinking about how these concepts are placed in our heads, “right” and “wrong” create barriers to our understanding and creating meaningful change. “Desirable” and “Undesirable” are not ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ cognates, but allow for a greater range of moving the dial!

What is “THUD!” ? In the simplest way we know how to describe this stuff, “THUD” is an uncontrolled, unsightly, and ungainly foot heavy and overly weighted placement of the dancers foot, which results in a sound that resembles a rumbling of the floorboards under your feet when you jump up and down: THUD!  It occurs because the dancer in question has generated a heavy step, an impacted step, that they don’t realize that they’re doing it. That step reverberates up through the bones of the foot, then the ankle, then the knees, the legs to the hips, up along the spinal column, and then out through the arms in the embrace which is then transmitted to your partner! Usually ‘Thud!” occurs in concert with instability, hanging, pulling, pushing, and contortion. While one could easily paint this as a Follower only issue. That’s not the case. It occurs for both roles, regardless of age, height, weight, or any other issue you can think of. The reason it happens is primarily because no one has instructed that dancer on how to walk properly. Or in this case, how not to “THUD”. The general belief of THUD is that it can, and does, mostly occur when the leg is going backards or fowards (usually back) and the knee is bent, but the foot is lifted or raised off the floor! When the foot comes down (that’s the impact that you feel through the embrace), we have our ‘THUD!’.

From a Following perspective, usually, a Lead will feel the impact of your foot hitting the floor, more than you will unless the Lead is clearly unaware of their own presence (that happens too by the way). Typically for you, even though it’s demonstrated from a side step above, your version of THUD occurs because of how you’re walking backwards. You quite literally pick your foot up off the floor at the very end of your what you think your extension is! The fact is that more than likely you have an issue with how you are understanding and then applying your walk. You ideally want your walk to resemble something very similar to this idea:

Aside from the opposition that’s being employed here, You’ll notice that this particular Follower sort of ‘slides’ their foot along the floor, that it never leaves the floor really ? That’s what you’re looking for. However this creates a problem, resistance against the floor! We want the leg to fully extend in response to the amount intention that our lead is generating, but there should be a slide, not a weight transfer until the we’re near the end of the step. And even then the weight transfer is gentle and gradual, not sudden and sharp, and occurs at perihelion in the extension phase of the step. When we extend our legs with bent knees we are more prone to a sudden and sharp transfer of our weight than we are a controlled one! And we want the controlled one! Tango Topics has a series of videos that show you exactly what you have to do in order to generate this, which can be found in the Foundation Bundle!

In the end, we want something like the above video to happen in concert with our partner. To be fair, this is not somethat will happen over night and watching a single video on this stuff and then you trying to replicate that is not going to change a damned thing. Furthermore as it relates to THUD, that will continue to happen. Sounds dire, right ? No. It’s a stark realization and only from that stark honesty can change occur. 🙂 There’s hope.

From a Leading perspective, we feel the impact of the Follower’s foot on the floor, as a heavy step usually on their side and back steps. While at the same time we as L/leads must realize that we can and do generate a heavy impacted step as well. In short, there’s merit to the statement ‘walk softly’. The Lead can create the same problems that the Follower creates for exactly the same reasons above. Nothing has changed except the role. The walking technique is nearly the same, nearly, the only thing that’s changed is the direction that we’re moving in. However in our case, we want to generate Forward Intention first and foremost before we extend our legs, but that’s topic for another time. The end result of this is that when we generate THUD! it’s because we are more than likely driving forward with a lot of force, thereby driving the Follower into the floor! We’re stepping forward or side in a heavy-footed manner that belays what we want to do. There are some instances under which we actually do want to be heavy-footed, and that’s when we’re accenting an accent note, or dancing to Biagi’s music where you’ll hear a strong, sharp SHUM in the music on first beat of a measure. Which is what Biagi is known for, accenting the downbeat! That’s the “SHUM!”. There’s one other instance under which we want to engage in the practice of THUD!, and that’s when you have a Follower that a little unclear as to what’s going on. So for a few steps (A FEW, meaning 3 or 4) you may want to be slightly more heavy-footed than you would normally, but for the most part, walking in a heavy-footed maner is mostly undesirable and is a lot of work for the Follower to follow and maintain and to receive coming from you.

You may not realize this but that heavy-footed walk is felt coming up from the floor and up through your spinal column and out through the embrace! The Follower more than likely will not be able to tell you what they feel other than dancing with you tires them out. This is one reason why. Because you’re driving into them with heavy steps! THUD! Not so much with that.

thoughts about tango ?

From a Dancing Perspective, both roles do feel the THUD! when it happens, and once or twice it’s not so much of an issue. However, over time, after more than 10 or 15 steps it starts to drain their energy. The heavy-steps, the heavy-footed walking, and then dancing that way while being entirely unconscious in certain circumstances, and entirely conscious in others, is a lot of work for both roles. Ideally we want to walk lightly and with nimbleness, and then apply that to our dance. That would be ideal. Unfortunately that’s not what’s going to happen. And the reason is a really simple one: Comfort. You’re comfortable with what you’re doing. Further still you’re not even aware that you’re doing it, and beyond that most of the people you’re currently dancing with will tell you in no uncertain terms that you’re doing just fine. So how can you tell if you’re generating this stuff ?

Video yourself. Aim the camera so that you can see legs and feet only. Skip the embrace, it’s useless at this juncture. You need to diagnose what you’re doing and how! Look at the video above, and then the video below, and if you’re doing either of the following as a Follower, then it’s more than likely you’re generating instability. As a Lead these same things apply to you as well. The same constructs even though the steps are going backwards and it represents what’s happening with the Follower, they all so happen for the lead only in reverse!

That is how you know that you’re generating this stuff. Once you have identified that it’s going on, how do you fix it ? Fortunately Tango Topics has a solution, we have a Foundation package just for you. One of them is included in your free sign up! So go register today and get started in cleaning up your dance.

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.

spicy dancing ideas

Sacada Foundations

Sacada Foundations

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Tango Sacada is a very amazing piece of tango vocabulary. The first time I saw one, I did what most people do — “Wow!! That’s really cool!!!“. And then I went about trying to learn them. “Trying” being the operative word.

For most Leads, the Sacada represents a graduation in a sense of “cool”, yes, but also that next level, the next chapter of their tango development. One accomplishment on a road to a series of accomplishments, this is the first of this class of accomplishments that says, “Cool”.

For most Followers, oddly enough, it’s the polar opposite of “Cool”. It’s “Did I get it right ?“. Their only concern is not the coolness factor but rather did they miss anything ? Did they ‘hear’ (feel) the lead properly ? Was their foot in the right place ? Their leg ? Are they hanging on their Lead ? Was their leg supposed to do that ? “Oops I’m sorry” an oft repeated apology for doing what they were led to do (see Truism #893. Vol. 3). All hoping that it was right and that they didn’t hurt anyone, and in the end hoping that their Lead will still want to dance with them…in the beginning. Later on, as they improve, hoping that said Lead WON’T dance with them! But that is a topic for another time.

There are two immutable facts about every single Sacada known to man: 1.) The Sacada is an illusion! 2.) They’re in the the family of displacements. It’s the 2nd one that we’re interested in the most because this part usually fails in the Lead’s understanding and execution of exactly what it is that they’re trying to do. I failed at this constantly, in the beginning, failing to see this most intrinsic element that not one of my 98 teachers told me about. Not one.

When learning to Follow, I realized that the Sacada is, was nothing more than my body wanting to take the place of the Lead’s body. It just so happened that my leg would naturally want to go away from my lead because of their invasion – hence the displacement part. Proper Tango Technique taught me to do something else with that leg than just let it fly away, potentially hurting someone with my 3 inch heels!

Good thing you have access to a video that discusses all of these things in lurid detail in Sacada Foundations for both Lead and Follow, especially the proper Follower Technique part. In 7 minutes and 8 seconds you’ll learn everything you need to know about the foundation of every sacada known to man and beast. 🙂 All in HD quality with good clear sound and close ups of every aspect of importance. Plus a free preview of Back Sacada technique for both Lead and Follow. Buy it here.

Scroll to top