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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.

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Crossing Sacada Turn

If you were logged in, you’d see the premium version of this tango topic! Just sayin’… 🙂

The Crossing Sacada Turn

The Crossing Sacada Turn. Tango vocabulary consists of many, many different ideas that are sometimes beautiful and sometimes not. Sometimes the simplest things are really the most elegant things to watch and to experience. And sometimes, very infrequently so, when you put two ideas together something else happens that is almost magical in it’s execution, dynamic in it’s experience, and seemingly otherworldly just watching it happen within the context of the music and the dance. Today’s Tango Topic explores this idea known as “The Crossing Sacada Turn”.

What is a Crossing Sacada Turn ? In its simplest form it’s nothing more than a series of Simple Sacadas that are chained together that just so happen to utilize the Follower’s Molinete or ‘Turn’, which employs the Argentine Cross as it’s basis for entry. While the turn can be done without this entry point, it loses it’s ‘elegance’ by without using the Argentine Cross.

To be clear, a ‘Sacada’ is one of 4 types of Tango Displacements (Boleos, Gancho, Wrap/Enganche, and Sacadas), meaning that either the dancer’s leg will displace or their entire body will be displaced or take the place of their partner. A Sacada can be done from open or close embrace, it can be done by either role to the other, and has lots and lots and lots of options (about 501, at last count – not kidding).

A turn, as defined by Tango Topics, can be but is not limited to these ideas in order of precedence: 1.) The Follower’s Molinete to the Lead’s Giro (the Common ‘Turn’). 2.) A Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Ocho Cortado. 4.) The Argentine Rock Step/Turn. 5.) The Calecita. 6.) A Walking Turn.  7.) The Media Luna. and 8.) A Single Axis Turn.

A ‘Crossing’ Sacada Turn ? Is exactly what it sounds like, a turn that has a bunch of Sacadas as part of it. In this particular case, this Sacada Turn uses the Follower’s Molinete, and a very important structure that Tango Topics completely eschews repeatedly, and says that you should never, ever do. This is the ONE time when you do want to do that, however with all things, there’s always a caveat to the caveat. That said, let’s talk about The Crossing Sacada Turn.

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

Following Perspective. Sacadas have a few things for you to focus on. 1.) Your Underlying Technique. 2) The Displacement of Your Legs. 3.) Coming to Collection. Turns on the other hand, in this particular instance is using the Follower’s Molinete as the basis for this turn.

1.) Your Underlying Technique in this case is all about your three steps (forward, side, and back). Isn’t it always ? Not necessarily so in every instance. Sometimes we just want to focus on your backstops, or your side steps. In this case, it’s all three, and how you execute all three, and in specific how you should not ‘drag’ your feet, or let them dangle, or create gargantuan steps that are wholly unstable for you. Instead comfortably sized steps, and clean execution of how you place your foot on the floor.

2.) The Displacement of Your Legs is really about NOT letting your leg fly out and away from your Lead. Remember that you’re in 3in heels, and those things can be lethal weapons especially if the heel is allowed to impale someone. 🙁 So ideally we want the displacement your leg in a Sacada to be as short and as controlled as is humanly possible, and then some. Ideally we’re looking for ‘fastidious’ execution of the displacement. Meaning ? To be quick about it. There are times when we actually want a complete displacement, but in those cases those are shaped displacements as in the case of a ’Needle Turn’ at the end of an Ocho.

3.) Coming To Collection. While this is normally your default behavior, there are times when that is not desirable. In this instance, we do want to come to and ‘pass thru’ collection but doing so in a fastidious and elegant way that makes us and our partner very desirable.

All that being said…now we get down to the

The Following Fine Print. The reality is that this, The Sacada Turn, is nothing more than your Follower’s Molinete. That’s it, that’s all. You’ve done them 10,000 times, and here’s 10,00 and 1. It won’t be the first or last time that you do one. The Follower’s Molinete is the backbone of modern Tango. However, there’s one aspect here that is a little different coming out of the turn that happens as a result of that last chained Sacada. The Follower’s Self Gancho! As a result of the Lead stepping into your space (that’s the displacement by the way), you have no other option EXCEPT to displace and in this case Self Gancho! The Self Gancho is entirely up to you, or more importantly the execution of it is entirely up to you. You’re going to do one whether you wanted to or not. It’s going to happen. Period. So you might as well learn to execute one rather nicely instead of haphazardly. While this video does not show that technique, and the necessary exercises that you must drill yourself in doing in order to correct for issues, it does show (below) what it should look like. The Follower’s Self Gancho is detailed in a separate Gancho video in the Tango Topics Library. The reason we talk about the Follower’s Self Gancho here is because most leads will not create the necessary time for you to execute this Gancho as a result of their Sacada. They’ll rush through and you’ve got maybe a second, if that, to Gancho in and out, and it’s not going to be pretty. The fact is that if they don’t create space for the resolution of the Gancho to happen, then well…nasty things are going to happen. However, you can get away with something far simpler, and it’s more of a haphazard crossing of the legs than a full Self Gancho. That’s your only possibly solution to The Lead That Rushes in this instance.

Leading Perspective. There are 3 successive and chained Sacadas, one that builds on top of the other. This isn’t rocket science, but it is Tango and therefore there are a few ‘gotchas’.

1.) The Sacada Entry Point. The fact is that you must ‘hit’ (stepping just inside of) the Trailing Foot of the Follower for it to be a Sacada. This site has multiple videos on Sacadas, in specific you want to see the videos on a.) Simple Sacadas. and more importantly, b.) Close Embrace Sacadas. Both videos show the foundation technique involved as well as what has to happen in Close Embrace Sacadas when dealing with Forward and Side Steps! Moving along, ‘hitting’ (stepping) anywhere else is not a Sacada. Not even close. Far too many Leads step into the middle of the Follower’s step, thinking that they’ve Sacada’d their Followers. And that’s not the case. This is not a Sacada, it is being sloppy! There are many ways to be sloppy, this is only one of them.

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2.) Leading The Follower’s Molinete. Don’t assume that the Follower is going to generate a Molinete on their own. You may be dealing with a Milonguero Turn trained follower, and in that instance, you’ve got a problem on your hand. The problem is not the Follower, but you. The problem is that you assumed that they’d do X, when their default behavior is Y. Never assume. How do you not assume in this case ? That means to actually lead the disassociation that is absolutely required for a Follower’s Molinete to actually be understood as such. So many Leads do not do this, and they just infer the turn, and mostly employ a Lazy Man’s Turn and we end up with problems instead of actually being clear in what we’re intending to do. At the same time, so that we’re clear about this, to ‘be clear’ with the idea of disassociation does not mean to use your arms and to push, pull, and twist your Follower with your arms to indicate clarity. NO! You can and should employ proper disassociation without the use or force of your arms to indicate that you’re looking to initiate a Follower’s Molinete! 

3) Creating Space & Resolutions. All Sacadas have resolutions. Typically where most Lead’s fail is in allowing their Follower to properly (and sometimes improperly) resolve out of what they were led to do back into a default movement (collection, walking, turning, crossing, etc). In this particular instance that failure comes at the end of the last chained Sacada, or more importantly the Follower’s Self Gancho. You must allow them the space and time to resolve out gracefully, and if that means that you end up dropping a beat, then that’s what needs to happen. Remember, that the Follower is in 3 in heels and those things are somewhat dangerous. Rushing the Follower (tsk, tsk, tsk) to come to collection is one of those places where we typically make a mistake and can be rather painful for the Follower, when they scrape their heel across the top of their foot. Talk about an OUCH!!!!

The Leading Fine Print. There is something very important about The Sacada Turn, an extremely important aspect. This aspect allows the Sacada Turn to work. Without the aspect in place, will create problems and OODLES of frustration for both Leads and Followers. That aspect is contained in the video. It would be a grave mistake to watch the video above and to assume that you can understand all that’s going on. Not. And this isn’t sales boast trying to get you to subscribe. This is fact. Truthfully the first time that the Sacada Turn was performed everyone in class made the same mistake that you’re going to make and wondered why the Follower was rotating away from their Lead !?!??!?!? However watching the example above, that does not happen. So you’d be right to wonder what that ‘something’ was. That’s another reason why the video exists, that without that technique being employed the Follower will never Self Gancho and they’ll be out of position to walk down the line of dance into the next movement.

That solution can only be found in the video itself. So this is one reason, among many to subscribe and to see this video in it’s entirety. Oddly enough there’s another version of this same video that was shot 2 years early with another partner, that goes over the same material however there are different aspects to this information. So as a bonus to your subscription you’ll get access to BOTH videos to help you with this stuff. 😉

thoughts about tango ?

The Fundamental Stepping Stones! An aspect that is wholly overlooked here in this article, until now, and really the video itself is the employment of the Argentine Cross. This is such a ubiquitous piece of Tango vocabulary that people hardly think of it as anything more than thing you do every 2 or 3 steps!

However, we do actually want to learn to lead and follow this wonderful structure that makes Argentine Tango so unique in the dance world. No other social dance has anything close to it. So it’s important that we as dancers learn to properly execute it, and to avoid the 5 Common Errors of the Argentine Cross, and to go one step further, and to see and understand The Engine of the Argentine Cross.

The only way this stuff works is really understanding the Follower’s Molinete, and it’s execution. For this reason and many others when looking at complex vocabulary like this that on one level looks to be simple when it fact it’s actually not, it’s far more complex than it’s component elements. It helps to have a clear understanding of the structure, dynamics, and proper execution of BOTH elements, Simple Sacadas as well as the Follower’s Molinete from a Leading and Following perspective. Tango Topics has all of those resources present which are available in your subscription and archived library. Just go look!

About The Video. This video comes in at 34m:02s in length in 13 Sections. This video contains no Follower and/or and very little Lead Technique.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:00:52
Section 2 – Argentine Cross – The Starting Point – 00:01:32
Section 3 – The Lead’s Cross Behind – 00:02:35
Section 4 – The First Sacada – 00:01:09
Section 5 – The Follower’s Flailing Foot Error – 00:02:17
Section 6 – The Second Sacada – 00:01:32
Section 7 – The Third Sacada – 00:03:10
Section 8 – The First Complete Sacada Turn – 00:01:32
Section 9 – The Turning Brake – 00:04:08 (technique)
Section 10 – Removing The 3rd Sacada – 00:00:58
Section 11 – A Variation On A Theme – 00:03:47
Section 12 – The Close Embrace Version – 00:01:34

Section 13 – With A Metronome/Closure – 00:02:34

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Simple Sacadas – Download

Close Embrace Sacadas – Article/Download
The Argentine Cross – Article/Download
The Follower’s Molinete – Download
The Self Gancho Exercise/The Self Gancho for Both Roles – Download

spicy dancing ideas

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.

FREE REGISTRATION

Get More Great Content from Tango Topics

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Cross Body Incrementals

If you were logged in, you’d see the premium version of this tango topic! Just sayin’… 🙂

Cross Body Incrementals

Let’s get something out of the way immediately, ok…a few things: This particular Tango Topic is a Tango Topics phrase. Meaning that you’re not going to find it in any tango class with any other teacher. Secondly this topic refers to a class of vocabulary that isn’t particularly sexy to talk about, “talk” being the operative word. Thirdly after watching the video above, you’re going to ask yourself, “what’s the point ?”. And you’d be right to ask that question. It’s actually, almost quite boring to watch. Watching it is one thing, doing it on the other hand, is radically different, and it sooooo vicseral in it’s application that you’ll want to spend all of your time doing nothing but just because of the way it feels when it’s done properly.  And that right there is the key component. Doing it properly.

To be clear a Cross Body Incremental is not necessarily the topic that makes you go, “WOW!!! OMG!! I want THAT!!!”. It’s just not. And yet, this particular topic is quite literally every. single. thing. about tango that you find to be fun, intimate, and absolutely delicious at the same time. It’s that good. So yeah, on the outside looking in, not so much. On the inside,  doing it….OH MY F*CKING GOD!!!! So without further adieu, today’s Tango Topic – Cross Body Incrementals.

What is a Cross Body Incremental ? In its simplest form a Cross Body Incremental is motion that is generated from Opposition, which results in the Follower’s leg extension across the meridian line of the couple, usually to the opposite side. The distinction between Cross Body Incrementals and a ‘step’, is that there’s typically no weight transfer at all in Cross Body Incrementals. Where it gets its name from is the fact this is all about, say it with me, ‘incremental’ motion. Meaning you don’t have to do this all at once but rather in tiny little bits, which typically match the beat, or an 8th or 16th note in the music (this is NOT shown in the video). So what’s the Cross Body part if it’s just incremental motion ? Isn’t that kinda like Traspie ? No, for two reasons. In Traspie, which is typically employed in Milonga…typically, there is a slight weight transfer. In this instance, there is no weight transfer. Secondly, in Traspie, the motion is usually (very often) linear. Meaning ? That the Lead will invoke the Follower to extend their leg backwards or forward, or side in linear fashion. In this instance, the Follower is being asked to extend and oppose across the Lead’s body, and across the couples meridian line in close embrace. So in essence while it may appear to be a Traspie. It is anything but!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Following Perspective. Cross Body Incrementals rely heavily on you, and your ability to listen and to respond appropriately, and if we drill down a bit more, it’s all about your technique and the execution of that technique. You’re going to believe, erroneously so, that there’s really nothing to the Cross Body Incremental, and wonder why on earth you need a video on this stuff, right ? So let’s address this, there is a very specific aspect to the Cross Body Incremental that not only makes it work, but makes it so frakkin’ delish that your Leads will absolutely love you for it. Once they learn to lead this stuff properly, they’ll want to engage the Cross Body Incremental constantly SIMPLY because of how it feels to lead YOU to do so! The key there is ‘once they learn to lead …’. That’s it right there. That’s the beginning, the middle, and the end of it. However, you as a Follower can still make this stuff feel absolutely frakkin’ amazing in spite of the fact that Mr. Lead isn’t actually leading this stuff but rather ‘indicating’ that they’re leading it. Which happens more often than not. They think or believe that they’re doing one thing when in fact they’re not. Which creates LOTS and LOTS of confusion for you and for them.

The Two Things You Have to be Aware of ?

The reality is that there are actually 3, and a 4th if we’re being persnickety, which if you were a paying subscriber you’d actually get to read about below. But because you’re not one, that information is quite decidedly hidden from you.

The two most important things you have to be aware of are:

a.) Responding to the Opposition … PROPERLY.

b.) Lifting or bending the knee to extend the leg.

Bent knees aside for the moment, let’s deal with the first issue: The Responding to the Opposition part. The fact is that a good portion of the time you, and your lead (this isn’t just a Follower thing, it’s both roles) both respond poorly to Opposition, either in the case of the Lead not leading it, or in this case as it relates to you not ‘following’ it, and as a result you end up perpendicular to each other, almost in a Follower’s Calecita, as shown here >

Back to the bent knee thing, the fact is that a lot of teachers (this one included) seem to propose that you can not and should not bend your knee at any point along the step process. And that’s just not the case. The reality is that the knee must bend. Absolutely, we just want to minimize that bend as much as possible and to clean it up so that it’s not so …. ummm … ‘bendy’, but rather we want to accentuate the line of the couple. But that’s a topic for another day.

The Oppositional Key. This stuff only works with the use of Opposition. Learning to lead it, and in your case, understanding that you as a Follower must match that Opposition and then go a little further. Quite decidedly wrapping your body around your lead, without transferring your weight to do it. However, if Opposition is not present, you as a Follower, have 2 choices. 1.) You can continue on as if nothing happened, because … well, nothing happened. If it’s not led, then why would you do anything, right ? Or 2.) You can superimpose the implied idea of Opposition onto your lead, which is akin to being an  ‘Active’ Follower, and really edging towards being a  ‘Delicious’ Follower. Ideally we want the second one for a variety of reasons not the least of which is it makes you a very desirable Follower. However, you can rightfully manufacture something that isn’t there so you have to work with what you’re given, or in this case, not a whole lot.

The Fine Print. For the Follower this is all about Legs and feet. And in specific how closely you place your foot next to your Lead’s without actually engaging a weight transfer. If you extend too far away from the Lead’s foot, you’re going to create a bit of a problem for yourself. Which is, however far away you go, you’ll have to retract that extension. Further still, the further away (on the linear) from your body’s natural meridian (the longitudinal axial line) that you go, the more difficult or unstable you will become. So, in short, closer to the Lead is better. Muuuuuch closer. To be clearer, today’s Tango Topic does go over in intricate detail the requisite Follower Technique in 3 different sections of the video: Opposition, Legs, and Feet, separately, detailing each area.

Leading Perspective. The key component here is really Opposition. It’s the engine of this tool and technique. If you want mastery over this piece of vocabulary, you must master your Opposition first and foremost. Every Lead that sees this stuff leaps to the wrong conclusion that this is all about using their arms to pull, push, and then twist the Follower this way or that. And that’s not the case at all. As a matter of fact, you don’t need your arms in any way, shape, or form as shown in the video above. Which begs the question, how do you keep the Follower ‘with’ you if you don’t use your arms ? What about the La Marca Lead ?

Keeping the Follower with You ? This is not accomplished by pulling the Follower into you as a Lead. This is accomplished by foot placement, yours, not theirs. This is also accomplished by constant maintenance of this idea. Meaning that you’re always, always, always managing the space between yourself and the Follower’s position to keep them in front of you. That means lots and lots of micro adjustments with every step, and very precise, and absolute control over listening to where the Follower goes, and not watching where the Follower goes. That means ‘feeling’ their body in proximity to yours and through yours. For those of you that are Intensive Level Students this should sound vaguely familiar. This is proprioception! (follow the link if you don’t know what that is) Feeling where the Follower is in space and time and making the necessary micro adjustments that allow you to Lead X, Y, and Z without making it seem like you’re pushing and pulling, because you’ve already adjusted to their physiological position.

The ‘La Marca’ Lead. In this instance, your skills employing La Marca as a way of indicating X, Y, and Z do not work here without pulling and pushing. You may think or believe that that little but of pulling the Follower into you to ‘mark’ X, or ‘Y’ helps you here. It doesn’t. It actually creates more problems than it is worth for the simple fact that this isn’t about marking a step, it’s about employing Opposition. So La Marca ? Not so much with that.

The Opposition Part. While this is the engine of the motion, controlling this stuff is absolutely crucial to your success. Too much Opposition and you end up with the Follower thinking or believing that you’re engaging turn and you lose the incremental parts. Not enough and the Follower is wondering what on god’s green earth you’re asking for! There is a fine line here, and you must learn to exploit that fine line at all costs. This is no mean feat. It something that takes time, patience, and lots of understanding to do and to do well. Not to drill the point home, but this is one more reason why you need a video on this stuff. 

The Pink Elephant In The Room. The fact is that for a lot of leads regardless of the vocabulary that the believe they are leading, they don’t actually lead it. The ‘indicate’ said vocabulary. And their indication is more like a head nod in a specific direction and their arms employ lots of tension and force to reinforce that ‘indication’. This is not desirable. At this point, if you’ve been paying attention to what Tango Topics is on about, you’d rightfully stop and ask the question, “Wait, isn’t that just ‘Intention Based Dancing’ ? No. It’s not. Typically what happens in Intention based dancing is that the whole body is engage in the execution of that Intention. In Indication, it is as described above. They’re light years apart from one another. At the same time, indication also has a slippery slope attached to it. And that’s the fact that there’s a lot of starting and stopping going on. Meaning ? That a Lead will start an idea and then immediately stop that idea forcing the Follower to figure out the confusion of the ideas, meanwhile the Lead has moved on to the next idea and so on and so on….This is NOT desirable.

A few paragraphs ago, if your eyes haven’t glazed over yet, mentioned something about playing with the Follower’s Extensions, further still very early on it mentioned something about a class of vocabulary that is unique solely to Tango Topics: Enter the Golden Nugget Extensions. Where this topic leaves off, that video picks up and really plays with all the rest of the ideas that are not touched on here. Playing with Forward steps, back steps, side steps, applied disassociations, all done within the construct of the Golden Nugget of Tango! You should go look at the article on the Golden Nugget, and consider purchasing the Golden Nugget Extensions! It really is the bomb! 😉 There’s also a bundled product that gives you access to both the Golden Nugget, and The Golden Nugget Extensions.

thoughts about tango ?

The Fundamental Stepping Stone! The only way this stuff works is really Opposition. So it really does work to your benefit to work on controlling your Oppositional skills from a leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. This particular piece of Tango Topics vocabulary is a further extension of the walking exercise that is presented to every student that comes through the Intensive Training Process. While you’re going through it, you rightfully ask, and point out that no one walks like this! Correct. No one does. But this isn’t about walking, it’s a multipurpose exercise who’s goals are multifaceted. One of which happens to be this piece of vocabulary! So it not only behooves (10 cent word) you to study Opposition but to work on your walk using the Tango Topics Methodology! Ummm in case you’re not clear, that’s a hint to SUBSCRIBE!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video comes in at 36m:38s in length in 9 Sections. Separate Lead Technique and detailed Follower Technique is explained here in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:04:26
Section 2 – Lead Technique – 00:04:36
Section 3 – The Weight Change – 00:02:41
Section 4 – Embrace Clarity – 00:00:53
Section 5 – Cross Body Close Up – 00:02:34
Section 6 – Follower Technique – Opposition – 00:05:09
Section 7 – Follower Technique – Legs – 00:03:05
Section 8 – Follower Technique – Feet – 00:04:15
Section 9 – Dancing Ideas/ End – 00:08:20

Related Videos 

6 Ways of WalkingDownload
Check Steps & Incremental Steps – Article/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.

FREE REGISTRATION

Get More Great Content from Tango Topics

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Walking Turns

Walking Turns

The Walking Turn. Right from the start the 2nd or 3rd thing a Lead must learn is how to turn the Follower. Usually most Leads are taught the sexier turn, learning to lead the Follower’s Molinete to their Lead Giro. It’s a harder turn to learn for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the Lead must master disassociation first and foremost, and secondarily not to use their arms or hands to push or pull the Follower. That along with the timing of certain aspects of the guidance of the Follower’s Molinete can make it rather challenging. So you would think, given all that, that teachers would eschew teaching the Lead how to generate the Follower’s Molinete in favor of a much simpler turn. Nope. Most teachers go right for the Molinete/Giro combo and skip right past the simplest turn of all: The Walking Turn!

What is a Walking Turn ? In it’s simplest form, it is exactly what it sounds like, a turn where the Lead is walking in a very tight circle with their Follower. However, note the operative words there ‘simplest form’. Meaning or implying that there are is a level of complexity to this turn. And that’s putting it mildly. The Walking Turn has some tricks up its sleeve. Meaning that you can quite easily augment it with the 6 ways of walking to change it and/or spice it up a bit. The real trick of the turn is that it can be done in close or open embrace, with any partner, regardless of style and yes, it can work within the line AND lane of dance. 

The Problem: There’s a reason why this turn isn’t taught all that often. Actually 3 reasons. 1.) It is all too easy for The Walking Turn to become a navigational hazard, when executed by a beginner Lead, thereby breaking the line and lane of dance. 2.) it’s not sexy by comparison to the follower’s molinete, but rather it is very functional. And for some reason we like sexy and eschew functional. 🙂 The problem is that the turn itself while being very easy to learn, can be difficult to execute.  3.) After about 2 or 3 steps, depending on the size of your steps, will invariably have you and your partner facing against the line of dance. And this is a major no-no!  And if this something your teacher has not told you about, then fire that teacher immediately. Because this is one of those things that you should have drilled into your head! Which is a really good reason the turn is almost never taught to beginner leads, because they’ll end up screwing up the turn, freaking out when something doesn’t go right, and thereby screwing up the line of dance which in turn creates a navigational nightmare!

However, with a little judicious study, and some hard work, the turn can be taught, and executed with a great deal of control and precision, and eventually can become a useful staple of every Lead’s arsenal of turning tools in today’s modern version 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: 1hr:8m). You can purchase Walking Turns for just $34.99 not including your level discount.

From a Following Perspective, this is walking backwards for you, not much work for you at all. Or so you would think. There’s just one little tiny thing that makes it a little challenging, and that’s the judgement that a walking turn is being engaged, and how to manage it. The managing it part comes down to focusing on the extension itself and how you place your foot on the floor within the tight confines of the turn itself. Put simply, this is smallER steps for you, and matching the intention to the size of the step and staying with your lead all at the same time. The kicker is the intention part. Because for the beginner lead, unless they’ve been properly trained, they’re going to overshoot this one by a country mile and force larger steps out of you without meaning to do so, and thereby as a result end up going outside their lane of dance and making a muuuuuch wider turn than is necessary. You have 3 goals in this turn. 1.) Shorten your step. 2.) You have to curve your back steps. The curve is gradual and gentle, not immediate. It’s just enough to turn us as a couple and not enough to be egregious. 3.) The relationship of the couple is absolutely paramount! Meaning ? You have to stay in front of your lead at all times. Given the propensity for most leads to place you in their armpit this is even more challenging on multiple levels. Now add a compressive or restrictive embrace type and you’re just asking for a visit to the chiropractor the next morning.

From a Leading Perspective, this is a must have turn for you, especially at the beginning, and for years to come. However, before we get to that part, we have to address the primary issues – The entry point for the turn isn’t correct and as a result we end up with a much wider turn than we need. Then we over compensate in our intention making longer steps than we need to, making the turn even wider, and by that time we’re facing against the line of dance and/or out of our lane of dance. Not desirable. There are 9 turns that you will be taught in your tango life. The 9 Types ? 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Calecitas (coming soon). 6.) Walking Turns. 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. And 9.) The Media Luna.  Hmmmm but you’ll notice that the Walking Turn isn’t on this list, and that’s because of the fact that for ONE step you’re going against the line of dance, and it’s all too easy for a beginner Lead to lose their frakkin’ minds and end up going against the line of dance. The turn itself is a natural progression from walking in the line of dance, only now we add turning with that walk, in a very tight space.

You’re going to ask yourself why on earth you need to spend an hour of your life that you’ll seemingly never get back learning something as simple as The Walking Turn? And the answer to that is not just because you can easily prevent the beginner screw ups that are going to happen by learning where the turn has to start, and then how to continually manage yourself and the follower without using the embrace! Now we add a little but very important nuance. What’s that ? Walking Systems! You see this is not just about walking in parallel system, but rather engaging all six! Walking in straight lines is all fine and good, however in today’s modern tango world where everything becomes a turn due to the ronda not moving, learning to curve or turn that walk in say 3 track cross system ? or Lazy Ochos ? Or an Inside Snake Walk ? Now you’re onto something! Honestly this is a beautiful turn, and a really wonderful musical tool, not to mention the navigational possibilities are quite limitless. It’s beautiful because it accentuates the walk. Today’s version of Tango, due to the ronda not moving, has become a turning (Molinete/Giro) nightmare that is very undesirable and a little repetitive. So one way that we can turn (no pun intended) tango back into a desirable visual and pleasurable experience accentuating the walk is to either fix the ronda issues (not going to happen unless organizers and teachers get their act together), or Lead’s begin to use The Walking Turn!

From a Dancing Perspective is that you’re going to see the turn, and think to yourself, I can do that. Until you realize that the issues pointed out above are all true and then you really do need to learn how to do this from a Leading perspective and a Following perspective. That’s the reality. Once you learn the turn’s inner workings and why it works, you’ll want to play with it everywhere in the line of dance. And this is where the turn takes on it’s beauty, it’s elegance. You’ll want to make the turn elegant simply because you can. You’ll want to start playing with the musical aspects of it. You’ll want to experiment with the walking systems and see how you can augment it. You’ll want to play with the tightness of the turn itself, to play with the size or your steps, to see just how far you can push it before it evolves into a rotation and not a walking turn.

About The Video. This video comes in at 1hr:8m in length in 19 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:01:00
Section 2 – Set Up: 5 Embraces – 00:01:20
Section 3 – Basic Floorcraft – 00:02:00
Section 4 – Tango Hapitcs – 00:01:02
Section 5 – Without The Lead Back Step – 00:00:37
Section 6 – Set Up – Relationship = Alignment – 00:01:23
Section 7 – Starting The Turn – 00:02:00
Section 8 – The Walking Turn – 00:00:58
Section 9 – The Walking Turn with the 5 Embraces – 00:07:47
Section 10 – Follower Technique – 00:06:11
Section 11 – Lead Technique – 00:01:37
Section 12 – The Relationship – 00:03:21
Section 13 – Footwork: Closeups – 00:04:59
Section 14 – Why Walking Systems – 00:00:58
Section 15 – Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Explained – 00:06:49
Section 16 – Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Applied – 00:11:38
Section 17 – Walking Turns – Errors – 00:05:44
Section 18 – Embrace Reminders – 00:04:46
Section 19 – Closure – 00:02:07

You can purchase the video for the kingly sum of $34.99 from the video store and whole bunch of other items that can improve your understanding and application of technique. 

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 1hr:8m HD quality video on how to properly lead & follow a Walking Turn and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can get a $3.00 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 Walking Turn 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.

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Argentine Rock Steps

If you were logged in, you’d see the premium version of this Tango Topic! Just sayin’… 🙂

Argentine Rock Steps

The Argentine Rock Step is a very venerable piece of tango vocabulary it’s used quite often as a way to avoid a hazard, and infrequently as a what is primarily supposed to be used for as musical interpretation. More often than naught for a lot of people the addition of the Rock Step is where they stop developing kinesthetically. This becomes their experience, their go to move, and they don’t realize that this is the case.  So let’s talk about Today’s Tango Topic: The Argentine Rock Step.

What is A Rock Step ? First let’s define what the word ‘Rock’ means. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the English word ‘Rock’ in this case is being used as a verb. It has a noun form, which means “a mass of stone”. In its verb form, it means “to sway back and forth”. Next, when we apply that idea to Dancing, a Rock Step means that you have a step that is going to go from weight transfer to weight transfer, very quickly.

An Argentine Rock Step is a little different. It refers to a very specific construct and is not swaying to from side to side, but actually weight transfer to weight transfer (usually back and forth) sometimes with a Resolution (more on that later). In a lot of ways, a ‘Rock’ Step appears to look like (operative word) as if the couple dancing is a Rocking Chair. The Argentine Rock Step is in the family of ‘Alterations’ of Tango Vocabulary. Meaning that due to a possible Resolution, the Follower’s direction (orientation) changes as a result. One more thing: There is a distinct and clear difference between an Argentine Rock Step and a Check Step and/or Incremental Step as shown in the video below:

The video above shows the difference between the two (and one possible error that happens quite frequently). A Check Step has no weight transfer forward (for the lead) and backwards (for the follower). In the case of the Rock Step there is a clear, and definitive weight transfer backwards AND THEN forwards. 🙂

Pre-Requisites: Walking. Weight Changes. Extensions. One does have to have mastered one’s walk and possess stability in their embrace without using the embrace for stabilization against their partners before they can initiate these ideas.

Difficulty Rating:  (2 / 5)

From A Following Perspective there are two things that are going to confuse you about a Rock Step. 1.) The Rocking Motion itself. And 2.) The desire to collect your feet. Let’s deal with the second item first, as it’s the easiest to describe. You’ve been taught to ‘collect’, ‘collect’, ‘collect’, and then along comes the proverbial Rock Step that says, “don’t collect…not just yet”. While there is a collection there, that collection is in fact, a led collection. And that’s the part that will confuse you. Why ? Because a good portion of the Leads you’re currently dancing with will not lead it, and more over they expect that you’ll ‘follow’ them. This is better known as reading their minds. You’re not a mind reader are you ? Hmmmm, probably not.

Now let’s deal with the first of these issues, the ‘Rocking’ motion itself. First and foremost it is actually much like a rocking chair motion, only we don’t actually lift our feet off the ground. It’s more like a weight transfer back then forward more than anything else. Now for the confusing part, we actually want to add a tiny bit of ‘spring’ to the motion itself. Truthfully the rocking motion is kind of dead, there’s no energy to it. And that’s the problem with it right there. You’ll transfer your weight back, and then forward and it’s like a ’thud’. But we don’t want to that to happen, and instead we want a tiny bit of a ‘spring’ motion to happen on the back step. So for this, you’re going to bend your knee and launch into the forward rock.

The advice above, covers the Linear and Parallel/Cross System Rock Steps. However, when we make the step Circular and not Linear, and then make them Parallel or Cross System Rock Steps, and then the possible resolutions out of the Rock Step, this is where things get interesting for you.

Resolutions ? First we have to talk about resolutions. What’s that ? A Resolution means that you want to get back in front of the Lead. Usually facing the lead, your torso plane facing the lead’s. However when we make the Rock Step Circular and Cross system based, your rock step resolution (just the resolution part) is not back in front of your lead, but rather turned perpendicular to them (not shown above but in the Rock Step Video)!

This Circular Cross System Rock Step and Resolution part is a little confusing at first and the reason is that it’s an unusual motion for you, it’s not back to facing your lead. Most of your Tango life to this point has been about resolving back in front of your lead. “Stay in front of your lead” is what you’ll generally hear. The Circular Cross System resolutions specifically breaks that convention. Because you’re not, in certain cases, going to end up facing them, but rather perpendicular to them. 🙂 And you’re going to think to yourself that you missed something, or that you’re behind, or that you’ve ‘disconnected’, and that’s less than desired thinking. If you followed what was led, then you’re not wrong. The fact is that the resolution is awkward, fun, but awkward.

The Caveat of the Rock Step. A good portion of your leads are going to jerk you around with their arms and hands. They’re going to believe that they have to ‘stop’ you. And thereby they’ll feel that they need to pull you towards them. This is an error on their part, they haven’t quite mastered intention based dancing. Neither have you for that matter. So as a result their going to squeeze, or compress, the embrace with their right forearm to stop you from going any further. This is not desirable on their part, but they don’t know it. And since no one has complained about it, they see no reason to change their behavior. Unfortunately this stopping motion has an undesirable visual side effect. It make the couple look ‘choppy’, as if the lead is jerking the Follower around. Truthfully, there’s not a whole lot you can do about this. Sadly. You’ll just have to survive until the end of the song, at which point you can say “thank you” and move on. But that’s your choice. Best practice ? If the squeezing is really painful, switch embrace types, and then if that still doesn’t change anything, you can always say “Thank you” at the end of the song (and not the tanda). Remember to take care of you! There’s one more fix here and that’s to start saying “No” to these leads that Rock Step endlessly, and jerk you around, as shown in the video below.

From a Leading Perspective the Rock Step is over used. Once a Lead learns this stuff they lose their proverbial mind, and it becomes their go to vocabulary for every possible resolution. Further still they have a distinct and clear, unconscious in most cases, desire to squeeze their partners bodies in order to stop them from continuing backwards or forwards or resolving cleanly. It’s an evil thing really. Quite honestly the Rock Step is usually performed without any level elegance unless by a trained professional and sometimes not even that. However, most of the time it’s overused, and executed in a manner that makes the couple appear sloppy and inelegant. 🙁

That said…

Now we get to the good parts of the Rock Step. There are some really cool things that we can do with a Rock Step. And the fun parts really begin with the Cross System and Circular versions. Because in both cases they’re door openers to other ideas and other pieces of vocabulary. Basically they’re transition elements. If nothing else, they’ll act like glue between one idea and the next. And it is for this reason that they’re over used. There are other ideas that don’t get used at all that can take their place such as turns, ocho cortados and the options, wraps, colgada turns just to name a few.

One more thing: Stepping backwards in the line of dance. The Rock Step seemingly breaks the convention of stepping backwards in the line of dance, and that’s not necessarily the case. If done properly, it should take up no more space than a single walking open step. However, if you’re concerned that you’re taking up too much space, here’s a free tip: Angle the resolution step, backwards against the line and lane of dance!

From a Dancing Perspective as has been indicated, it’s over used, far too often. There are other ideas that we want to engage. However, from a dancing perspective you’re going to see it every where and think that there’s nothing wrong with it until, after reading this article and seeing the requisite videos that you start to recognize that you use them far too much. Is this article going to change your mind on the topic ? No. Are you going to continue to use them ? Yes. Are you going to continue to over use them and thereby squeeze the living daylights out of your partners ? Yup. So why bother wasting breath on this stuff ? Simple. Awareness. The fact is that the more voices out there telling you not to do something hopefully it will start to sink in. And that, friends, is the point at which change has happened or can occur and that’s part of the reason why this page and the site and the videos under exist. So that change can and does occur, that you begin to think differently about the dance than you have.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video comes is 14:16 in length in ONE section broken up by markers. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated in the video.

Section 1 – Introduction – 00:00:48
Section 2 – Lead Technique/Follower Technique – 00:01:15
Section 3 – Side Step Resolutions – 00:02:06
Section 4 – Parallel Linear Rock Steps (Example: Close Embrace) – 00:00:20
Section 5 – Parallel Linear Rock Steps/Resolution (Example: Close Embrace) – 00:00:18
Section 6 – Cross System Rock Steps – 00:01:27
Section 7 – Cross System Resolutions – 00:02:38
Section 8 – Cross System Examples with Resolutions – 00:01:20
Section 9 – Linked Rock Steps (Multiples) – 00:01:50
Section 10 – Chained Rock Steps with Resolutions & Closure – 00:01:57.

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.

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The Dark Side Salida

The 'Dark Side' Salida

The Salida. The Spanish word ‘Salida’ translates in English to ‘Exit’ or ‘Left’ as in the past tense of the verb to ‘Leave’. However when we apply this to Argentine Tango it means something else entirely different. It is a process that includes Cabeceo/Mirada, and the Entrada in the line of dance, as well as the Exit (Salida) from the dance, and walking your partner back to where you found them. In BsAs, or more formal Milongas in the world (including Encuentros), this means walking them back to their table. This is the process known as ‘Salida’. However with regards to the dance we typically only equate the word Salida with Entrada phase of the dance, and this is known as a ‘Salida’ Step. An entry (or exit) into (or from) the line and/or lane of dance. There is typically only one that gets talked about and or shown, and that’s the very typical couple side step into the lane of dance. There are, as you might imagine, loads of others. Today’s Tango Topic talks about a very specific and special one referred as the Dark Side Salida.

What is a Dark Side Salida ? It is a Salida step that is entered into from the ‘Closed’ side of the embrace. Typically any piece of vocabulary that is referred to as such is a Dark Side ‘X’,  where ‘X’ is the vocabulary is the mirror copy of the Open side of the embrace. This has nothing to do with walking systems, or embrace formats. It only refers to the bi-lateral bisection of the body or in this case the couple’s embrace.

A Dark Side Salida on the other hand is a whole different ball of wax. It’s not your typical side step into the lane of dance, because … because doing so would step you out of the lane of dance and off the floor.  🙁 That would be bad. No. A Dark Side Salida step uses very simple, or basic, tango vocabulary put together to form figure in order to accentuate the ‘Closed’ side of the embrace AS the opening step of the dance! To be fair, while you can use this piece of vocabulary at nearly any point in the dance, employing as the Salida step has certain benefits, one of which is that it has incredible musical properties (not shown in the video).

That said, let’s take a look at one particular variant of a Dark Side Salida, and some issues that surround it.

From A Following Perspective for you this is employing three of your seven foundational elements. Foundational elements ? Forward, Side, Back, Embrace/Posture, Disassociation (including Ochos), Turns, and Crosses. The three you’ll be using ? Back, Forward, and walking to the Cross. However, for you, there is a tiny little trick that we want to be aware of. But before we get there we have to talk about the dreaded “Armpit Dancer”. Eeeeek! In this instance, you as the Follower are going to be specifically placed in the lead’s armpit.  And you actually want to be there, strange as that may sound. This is one of the few times (there are only 4), where this is completely desirable, because you’ve been led to do so. Every other time (aside from the 4) you want to be buttons-to-buttons, or in front of the lead. In this instance you don’t. There is an instance of transition where for just an instant (as you can see in the splash shot above), where the Follower ends up in the lead’s armpit and this is desirable. But, and here’s the kicker, it only happens for an instant.

Now to the little caveat of this piece of vocabulary for you. In nearly every piece of Tango vocabulary there is an aspect of going ‘around’ the lead (the action, not the person – hence the lowercase ‘l’). The Dark Side Salida Step reinforces this idea, specifically on the Follower’s forward step (not shown in the video above unless you’re a subscriber).  It is absolutely necessary for you to take a long forward step around the lead. Far too often the Follower takes a smaller forward step (known as the Non-Forward Step) where they end up in front of the lead OR they step away from their lead in linear fashion. Neither of these two states are desirable. Instead we, was Follower’s want to step towards and around the lead! To be fair, stepping too close to the lead will create an instability, stepping too far away creates another kind of instability, but it’s an instability none the less. Ideally there is a ‘sweet’ spot for how far or close you can step towards or away from someone. This is slightly different for each person based on height and girth as mitigating factors. 😉

There’s one more thing about this particular Dark Side Salida Step, it’s going to throw you a bit, it’ll feel awkward in the moment. The reason is that you’re so used to doing the typical Salida step that it’ll be a bit of a surprise as in, “WTH is this guy doing ?”. You’re going to have that moment of fear that the lead is going to pull out some crazy, wild, strange piece of vocabulary that they just learned 10 minutes earlier and haven’t really practiced all that much except in their heads. And rightfully you should worry or concern yourself with this, be ever vigilant. However, that’s no reason not to ground yourself in your foundational elements (forward, side, back, etc). Doing so will help you to survive those moments of ‘WTH!!’.

From a Leading Perspective this is a pattern. No doubt about it. So let’s dive right into it. Like all patterns, it has some areas where it works, some areas where it doesn’t, where you should use it, where you shouldn’t and so on. The upside to a Dark Side Salida Step is that they’re insanely easy to do and create lots of space for variation instead of the same ol’ same ol’. Even the variation has variations on top of variations. Still one more, is that it does create a bit of a surprise for the Follower (as indicated above) from the standard ‘side step’ – let’s dance thing that happens. The down side is that it can get old very quickly, and rather repetitive. It is for this reason that we want to study Enganches (Wraps), Ganchos, Cross variations, and Walking Systems! That last one is insanely important especially in a Dark Side Salida Steps!

This particular Dark Side Salida Step has three components to it that does require some thought and some practice. What are they ? 1.) The opening weight change. 2.) Leading the Forward Step around. 3.) The Capture!

1.) The Opening Weight Change. Far too often we, as leads, force a weight change onto the Follower by either pushing (or pulling) them into weight shift, typically it’s done by Compression (read that as ‘squeezing the living daylights out of your Followers’…tsk, tsk, tsk). The more you compress, the more the Follower has to go with. It’s not desirable and yet it’s done all the time. This weight change has to be done a completely different way, and that’s why we reinforce learning 2 different kinds of weight changes. a.) the WITH Weight Change. and b.) the WITHOUT Weight Change. The ‘With’ weight change is exactly what it sounds like, you change weight WITH the Follower. Pretty simple, no ? However, the WITHOUT weight change is where all the fun is at. This where you change which foot the Follower is on, WITHOUT changing you at all. And here’s the kicker, you can not use force or compression to do it. It doesn’t work. It is for this reason that it’s insanely important to learn the secret of executing a WITHOUT weight transfer (clearly demonstrated and explained in this video on this site) without the use of force because it doesn’t work in all situations under all conditions. This is also another reason to learn to dance with ‘intention’ and not ‘resistance’. An intention based dancer has far more options and opportunities than a resistance based dancer does. And the only way that you’ll know that is by studying with an Intention Based Teacher (Hint, hint, hint).

2.) Leading The Forward Step Around. This is another place where most leads fail. Why ? Because they forget that they actually have to rotate their upper torso (along with their arms!) and not just push and pull with their arms. Most male Leads don’t necessarily understand or comprehend their own physiological pressure that they place on their Follower’s bodies with their arms and hands via physiological compression, force, tension, hand pressure, forearm pressures, and the like. It’s not exactly desirable or a pleasurable experience, and yet this is exactly what happens for most male Leads. The only way that they’ll feel this and really understand what’s going on is first by dancing with a Resistance Based Lead that uses pressure and compression to ‘move’ them. And then immediately afterwards, to see the sharp comparison, dancing with an Intention Based Lead. How does this relate to the Forward step around themselves ? Because most male leads don’t realize intention based leading exists, and almost never realize it, and end up pushing and pulling their Followers, not around themselves, but actually away from themselves in linear fashion (on a line away). When instead what they want to do is rotate their Torso (specifically employing T7, T8, T9 of their upper spinal column) around their spine by use of intention. Slowly going with the Follower not pushing them. Indicating but not pushing. The problem here is that most leads forget this stuff and rush through X, Y, and Z and just expect that they Follower will haphazardly just ‘follow’ the lead. When in fact the lead itself is unclear and doesn’t allow for the Follower to ‘just follow’ but instead rushes them through it. 🙁

3.) Capturing The Follower. This one is probably the trickiest of the bunch caveats above. Because your want is to stop the Followers motion and redirect it. And that means using your arms. However in this case, you do not want to use your arms. You actually want to use your motion, or in this case your not-motion! This is referred as a ‘Null-lead’ or a ‘No-lead’ where the arms (specifically the Lead’s right) acts as a structural element and nothing more than that. Far too often when learning this particular Dark Side Salida Step most Leads compress the hell out of their Followers with their right arm around their Followers, and this is a major no-no. The Capture in this case is very gentle and entirely non-compressive!We want fabric to skin contact and nothing more than that.

This particular Dark Side Salida Step employs a weight change, a cross system walk, then a capture (!!!), then leading a circular forward step, and then finally walking them to the cross! It can be used anywhere inside the dance not just as a Salida step, it’s great in place of an Alteration step, where you want to change the direction of the Follower. It’s also great musically because it has so many possibilities attached to it. It’s also a lot of fun to execute and has lots of variance to it. Lots and lots actually! With a small modification it could be turned into a ‘Gooey Gancho’, an Enganche (for either role), a force back cross on the Step around, or even a Soltada! Just to name a few. There are so many options here that it’s mind boggling. You could literally use this Dark Side Salida Step as the gateway to opening your dance to do a whole variety of things, not just the step itself.

From a Dancing Perspective it’s cool. There’s no doubt about it. However, 98% will not dance it, mostly because they don’t know it exists. That and there is always the tried and true Simple Open Side Salida Step as their entrada. This is what you’ll see 98% of the time dancing. However, pay attention when you see a different Salida step, it means that that particular lead is thinking outside the box. It means that someone want to do something different not because it looks cool, but because they’ve been thinking about how to surprise their dance partners and make the dance that much more inviting and exciting than the run of the mill Salida step that permeates every single tanda. Side step, begin dancing, side step, end dancing. Over and over again. With a Dark Side Salida Step it’s anything but that! And the world is your oyster

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 Dark Side Salida 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.

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The Reverse Embrace

Reversing The Embrace

There are certain defaults that we possess after years of dancing. We don’t realize that they’re defaults but they are. And for the Non-native speaker, ‘default’ in this case means unconscious ways or methods of doing something that is performed frequently. ‘Defaults’ from a Tango perspective could mean but is not limited to how one crosses one’s feet, how one engages the embrace, how one asks for and follows a series of ochos, how one would follow a molinete, etc. These are default behaviors. We learn them as a result of several things, not the least of which is how we (at the time that we acquired the information) bodies weren’t able to accomplish an end goal so we do what we can and as a result we end up imprinting the ‘less-than-desirable’ way of moving, or engaging the embrace (read that as squeezing, pulling, pushing, hanging, etc), or crossing, or molinete, or …. or…. those ways of moving into vocabulary to accomplish the goal, even though it’s not desirable. We don’t realize that we have formed this way of moving, and it’s now ‘comfortable’ even though it’s contorted (mostly) and at the same time we sort of forget how to do X, Y, and Z properly (mostly because we don’t have someone poking and prodding us to remind us about X, Y, and Z and how it should be done) and therefore we stop paying attention to it. This becomes our ‘default’ behavior in Tango.

The Concern: This isn’t so much of a problem but rather a ‘concern’, something to be mindful of that if left unchecked, can create problems for us later on down the line. A good portion of you reading this will only look at the video and see this cool toy, and not look at the deeper issue that’s really going on here. A fair number of you will see the issue but not pay it any mind, thinking that this doesn’t happen for you. You’re perfect. Right ? Furthermore, a smaller number of you will only see that this isn’t just a Lead issue, but a Follower one as well! 😉 So what’s the concern ? That we as dancers become very accustomed to sending AND receiving kinesthetic pressure/compression/force/resistance information via the embrace which 9 times out of 10 creates more issues for us than we would like. This becomes our default behavior in the dance. The key component here is ‘sending’ and ‘receiving’. You’re going to think that sending refers to ‘leading’ and that receiving refers to ‘following’, when both messaging happen for both roles at the same time. A lead or follow both send AND receives information. Mind you a good portion of both roles, don’t actually listen to the other but that’s a story for a later topic. However, as a result of this way of dancing, we tend to get stuck or bogged down in our default behavioral responses and can’t see another way of moving.

One way that we can get unstuck and really start to open ourselves up to our preconceived notions of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it is to Reverse the Embrace structure.

What is ‘Reversing’ the Embrace ? It is exactly what it sounds like. – as a Lead and a Follow, we’re reversing the embrace structure.  Meaning that the Lead’s right arm is where the Follower’s right arm would be, and the lead’s left goes around the Follower. And vice versa. That’s it, that’s all. However, the question you’re going to have is why do this ? For that part, read on. However, the benefits of doing such a thing are wide and varied but this is the short and curly version: Because doing so changes your awareness of what you’re leading and following. For example: In the case of an Ocho from a Follower’s perspective, you may discover that you’re engaging in Traveling Ochos out of habit when in fact there was no actual Lead for the Traveling Ocho to occur. Another example: If you’re leading the Follower’s Molinete to your own Giro, you’ll more than likely discover that you’ve been engaging in a Lazy Man’s Turn for ages without realizing that you’ve been doing it! Crosses, Turns, Sacadas, Colgadas, and Volcadas even….everything gets turned upside down and in that turning things upside down, things tend to get righted, quickly!

Let’s be clear about something, don’t confuse this with swapping roles, or giving up the lead. No. That’s a whole different can of beans. This is solely swapping the embrace format to see how things are working (more like aren’t working but are being implied) more than anything else.

Difficulty Rating:  (1 / 5)

From a Following Perspective you may not realize that you to have a default way of moving, a default expectation and responses. You may, erroneously, believe that The Reverse Embrace structure outlined above in the video applies ONLY to the Lead/er (and Lead). Not true. It applies to you as well. How’s that ? Simple, you have the same embrace biases that the Lead does only to a smaller degree, however your concern is that you have a set way of doing things, specifically your turns, ochos, and crosses. By reversing the embrace, you realize just how awkward things feel. The awkwardness is a key component to making things feel effortless. Truthfully we want the awkwardness to occur, it creates a scramble in us and we want it to occur. Why ? Because it shows us just where we’re our expectations are at, and more importantly where our defaults are at and how they present themselves. By reversing the embrace you will recognize those things as well as where you are compensating for a poor or unclear lead to do X, Y, and Z. Or more importantly having to infer what a Lead (the person not the action) is or more than likely is NOT doing. It’s the inference that we’re really after. Why ? 2 reasons. Firstly, we can clean up what we’re doing, and secondly it also creates a place for us to interject an idea or two (think ‘active’ follower).

We have to address the larger resistance based follower crowd that may be reading this: You have issues. Resistance is not desirable. It’s work. Hanging, Pulling, Pushing, not so much with that. You will never progress to dancing with the desirable leads in the room as a Follower if you continue to utilize this way of moving, and reversing the embrace will only make things 10,000 times more challenging for you. “Challenging” is an understatement. More like downright impossible. You are hardwired to use your embrace and the lead/ers embrace to stabilize yourself in turns, ochos, and crosses. So ‘hearing’ (really ‘feeling’) the nuances of the dance are outside your abilities at this point because you are unstable, and this nuance topic of reversing the embrace is more of a ‘WTF’ than anything else. 

From a Leading Perspective a good portion of Lead/ers (not necessarily a Lead – we’ll get to that in a moment) rely heavily on the asymmetry of the embrace to communicate our intentions, specifically our left arm and hand (for a lot of leads) in turns and ochos (think ‘resistance’), and for a smaller number of leads their right forearm and a much smaller number of leads that use their right hand to paddle their followers into turning or stopping. This is using the embrace to communicate our intentions, or more to the point forcing the follower to do X, Y, and Z through compression, tension, resistance, and physiological pressures. These pressures are ‘messages’ to the Follower and what a good portion Lead/ers that use this way of dancing don’t realize is that this is not a desirable way of dancing. A Lead does NOT use these things, much like a Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense – never for attack, they use body-on-body contact to communicate their intent without pushing, pulling, or physiological arm/hand pressures to indicate their intent. And even a Lead that does all of that properly still has a default set of movements, a default set of expected responses, that they’re unaware of. It is to that group that this topic is really speaking to. Why ? Because the Lead/er crowd of resistance based dancers have absolutely zero desire to change what they’re doing. For there to be change in that dancer, several things have to take place. Most notably they have to have reached the end of the road with Resistance Based Dancing, to be shown that it is less-than-desirable by experiencing it for themselves – what it’s really like to pushed and pulled around the floor for 12 minutes (assuming a 4 set tanda). That, and a lot of Followers saying “No” to them, and a lot of sitting. Speaking directly to the Lead reading this, you have a concern that your lead is not what you think it is, it’s not as clear as you think it is. So by reversing the embrace you will see the areas where you are weak, and where you are clear. 

spicy dancing ideas

The Dancing Perspective is that this is a nuance topic that a good portion of you will dismiss entirely as folly and not really helpful to one’s dancing at all. It couldn’t possibly change what you’re doing. It couldn’t possibly rewire you to do something else. That’s the dancing reality. When in fact reversing the embrace is probably one of the greatest tools you have to refining your skills as a dancer. Why ? Because ideally you want your dancing skills to be seamless and effortless regardless of what style or type of embrace you use or whom you are dancing with. Short of actual solo practice working on your technique of execution, this is one of the more useful diagnostic tools you can possibly get without a teacher in the equation! So when would you use this tool ? Simple, EVERYWHERE! Why ? Classes, Workshops, and/or Seminars ? Yup. Practicas ? Absolutely. Milongas ? Yup. Why ? Just for fun because you can. Flippancy aside, the fact is that you do want to do this everywhere in every aspect of dancing with EVERY partner that you currently dance with. Think of it as a spot check to see if you’re right about what’s going on. Right now you’re assuming that X, Y, and Z is happening. Reversing the Embrace can give you needed insight as to what’s actually happening. Yes it’s going to feel strange, but that’s solely because it’s unfamiliar. Aside from the unfamiliar part, it contains vital diagnostic information that you can’t get anywhere else!

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 ‘Ballet’ Rise

The 'Ballet' Rise Exercise

Let’s dispense with a few misnomers right out of the gate. 1.) Balance is not the same thing as Stability. 2.) Balance is a component of Stability. 3.) Your stability is generated via 3 very different mechanisms that are all connect via your nervous system. And so that we’re clear on this one, one of them is not your ‘core‘, and anyone that tells you different is either lying through their eye-teeth, or doesn’t understand anatomy and physiology of the human body. Truth be told, your ‘core‘ muscles have absolutely nothing to do with stability. Nada. Zip. Zero. 

A Ballet Rise is an exercise that every Tango dancer should be familiar with before they put on a pair of heels as either a lead or a follow, it does not matter. The exercise is designed specifically to strengthen your very, very, very weak muscles and more importantly the tendons around the first 5 metatarsals of your foot. For some people that walk in heels all day long, those tendons will be a bit stronger than some, but not always. The tendons that surround the 5 Metatarsals are the weakest for a variety of reasons, and for some people they never bother to strengthen them mostly because no one tells them that they need to do so, and as a direct result of the lack of work (read that as exercise) that they’re not doing, they’ll end up with weak tendons, and thereby unable to hold a walking or articulated foot position, or they’ll land improperly and not be able to recover from it, and or the more common of the affectations is clear and present lack of stability. This singular exercise is quite possibly the single most important exercise that they will ever need to do. And yes, believe or not, they do not know how to do this. But you’re a smart person, right ? You know how to do this, right ? Right ? Hmmmm, well just as a refresher you should watch the teaser video above to refresh your memory.

Truthfully when this topic comes up for students, they make a few very important and key errors. Not the least of which is going too fast. This exercise isn’t about speed. Speed teaches and strengthens nothing. This is about going slow. Very slow. The slower, the better! 

What is a ‘Ballet Rise’?  It is where the feet are placed together in what Tango Topics calls ‘Social Collection’, with the first metatarsals touching, and the heels touching. With one’s feet firmly planted on the floor, and the weight distributed slightly forward from the arch towards the metatarsals, and just forward of them. The dancer would rise their body upwards just using the the metatarsals in what is called a ‘relevé‘. This is done SLOWLY, on an 8 count. Very slowly. The slower, the better. And then, slowly down on an 8 count. This is one ballet rise. Theoretically one would do 10 of these each morning. The video above shows you what an Ballet Rise is. Please go watch.  

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5) It should be noted that some people will have difficulty with this practice for a variety of reasons, most notably that the muscles and tendons that are used in this practice aren’t strong enough. Further one may still have issues with their equilibrium as well, which has nothing to do with the muscular or tendon strength that is required here. So it’s important to recognize that a few things have to happen here. One of which is a little time and a little patience, and two after about 3 weeks of doing this every morning right after you get up one of two things should start to happen. 1.) You’re able to do this with some difficulty. or 2.) You’re still not able to do this yet. If it’s the latter of the two, then there are equilibrium issues that need to be addressed before going any further. 😉 

From a Following perspective, you have your work cut out for you. Your stability is directly related to 2 things. 1.) How you place your foot on the floor, and your proprioceptive abilities. Meaning how and what you sense around you without looking. What makes things challenging for you is your Lead. 9 times out of 10, they’re compressing the embrace (squeezing the living daylights out of you because no one has told them to stop doing it), and/or squeezing your right hand and then using your right arm as if it were a joystick, thereby compromising you and your stability. And when that’s not happening, they’re usually rushing from vocabulary choice to vocabulary choice not really completing one idea nor the next. 🙁 And then blaming you for not keeping up. Compounding the problem are you in your pretty 3 in. heels that you were forced into almost immediately when you weren’t really ready for them at all. And that seemingly were devised by a madman (actually they go back as far as the 8th or 9th centuries to the Persian horse riders as a way to stay in stirrups, and then there’s the rumor/history of a danish king that used them to stand above his court and subjects but that’s another topic that’s already been covered in Tango Truism 809 – Volume 2). Still another compound problem is that the surface area of the heel is 40% of a normal shoe and you’re supposed to instantly master your stability in these things while at the same time, turning, disassociating, applying that disassociation (erroneously thought of as a ‘pivot’), and at the same time appearing elegant, and on/in time to what is being ‘led’, all while in the embrace of a Lead that can barely walk that’s blaming you for all of their screw ups. Yup. Tall task. Good luck with that! 

From a Leading perspective, your ability to control your next steps and ultimately your next vocabulary choice is quite literally based on just how stable you are. The more stable you are, the easier it is to pull off whatever it is you want. That stability can be impacted by any number of things, foot placement, foot position, lateral foot orientation, the floor itself, knee position, an embrace that is compressive (yours and your follower’s), and a follower that is hanging on you, just to name a few. In the end you must learn how to compensate for all of these things (and one of those compensations is a slight bit of knee compression – a micro bend). Your forward steps while appearing ‘elegant‘ must also be very stable, you must learn to balance these things against each other. What makes this stuff even more challenging is that you have another human being in front of you that has their own issues going on that you must learn to ‘hear‘/’feel‘, and then learn to negate those issues (one by one) while at the same time maintaining forward momentum, good posture, while in time to the music, and all without pushing, pulling, or using resistance in any way, shape, or form so that the Follower can ‘float‘ within the construct of the embrace. 🙂 Tall order ? Yup. You didn’t think this was going to be easy did you ? And in case you’re wondering, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes a ‘good’ dancer good!

The Dancing Fact is that most of these things are related to one thing and one thing only…how the dancer places their foot in contact with the floor. Note the nomenclature: ‘dancer‘. Not ‘Lead‘ (the person), Not, ‘Follower‘. No. ‘Dancer‘. Got it ? This is a gender, and really role agnostic reality that a good portion of you lot need to get your heads around. There are certain motions that are very common to both roles, and this is one of them, stability is a problem for both roles. So consequently what works for one role in terms of exercises, works for the other as well!

Quite honestly your stability can be controlled through a series of confined exercises that, if done daily, will greatly improve control of your weight transfers regardless of role, age, height, or weight! Although shedding more than a few pounds will probably do wonders for you in the long run as well.

The Ballet Rise Exercise ? One exercise that comes to mind that can help you control and contain your stability is The ‘Ballet‘ Rise Exercise. It is so named because it comes from 1st position of Ballet. However, it borrows heavily from a guiding Tango idea: Collection! The exercise is seemingly easy at first but quickly you realize that you’re going to be very unstable the first few times you try it. Truthfully you’re going to wobble, you’re going to waiver, you’re going to ‘shaky’ and uncontrolled in the beginning (read that as a few days if not weeks). However in the long run it really does a wonder on your achilles tendon, as well as the 5 metatarsals (the bones of the foot) and their related tendons, as well as the phalanges (the bones of the toes) and their tendons. Talk about a humdinger of an exercise that will blow your mind ? This is the bomb! And the best part is that you can do this by yourself, as much or as little as you want, whenever you want. Standing in line, talking to someone, anywhere. You don’t need to go to the studio, you don’t need to go anywhere. You can do this in the comfort of your own home. 

Reality. The exercise does not come without some warnings like if you’ve had surgery on an Achilles Tendon, or you have chronic Plantar Fasciitis, check with your Doctor or Physical therapist before you do this kind of work. It would be a real bummer if you had to stop dancing altogether because you have ruptured or injured your tendons! So don’t just jump right in and think that you’re good to go. If you have these issues, then check before you jump, ok ? Otherwise, read on. Still another reality is that when starting out with the ‘rise‘, it’s important that we not overdo it. So a good practice is to perform the exercise on an 8 count very slowly, 10 times. One 8 count up, and one 8 Count down…is one repetition. Doing it more than once in a day is counter productive. So it’s best to do this first thing in the morning and then to let it go. There’s no reason to do it more than that. Unless you’re feeling like you didn’t get your reps in for the day, in which case…go do. Still another reality is that more in this case is not better, the effect is cumulative, not iterative. Meaning the more that you do is not going to improve you. This work is done over time, typically a 30 day period of time at minimum.

The key to this work is really the speed at which this is done: Slower is better. This isn’t about powering through this, but rather slow and patient, mindful work! The goal of this work is to build up strength, endurance, and control. And you will learn nothing through speed! Control is not gained through powering through something but rather slow and patient understanding of this process. One more key, it is important that you not lock out your knees during this exercise. You actually want a ‘micro’ bend to them! 

The Benefits ? The benefits of this exercise will take time to show up. It’s not going to magically happen over night. Get used to that fact. This exercise requires patience, practice, and persistence to see the benefits. And quite honestly just because you do this a few times, nothing is going to magically change in your dance. Nothing. The exercise must performed religiously every. single. day. before you start your day!  The benefits will be felt gradually, and in specific how your foot comes in contact with the floor. You’ll feel a bit more control, a bit more stability and a bit more as if you can do what you want with very little effort. That’s because you’re building up the strength in the tendons around the bones in question. Something you quite honestly don’t use all that often in quite this way. This exercise forces you to use those tendons in new and expansive ways that you will end up using in tango whether or not you realize it or not. One benefit is that you will finally be able to control that super enrosque that you want, or an over-rotation because the muscles of the foot have been strengthened for you to effectively hold your weight. Whereas prior to this work, you would fall out of the rotation or enrosque! Still another benefit is that you’ll be able to hold a backstep for a few seconds longer without wobbling, or a forward step without needing to hold onto your Follower for stability! See there’s that word again, stability! In short, control the foot, and you control the application of your stability! Oh and before we forget, so the 3 things above that control your stability ? 1.) Your feet. 2.) Your inner ear. 3.) Your cerebellum! Your ‘balance’ is an affectation of your inner ear, not (for the love of christ) your ‘core’, please stop repeating that lie.

About The Video: It’s in one section, and is 10m:09s in length, and is for both roles as a practice exercise to be done everyday.

You can purchase The Ballet Rise in the Tango Topics Store. 🙂

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.

Your Trip to BsAs

Your Trip to Buenos Aires

The fact is that for a lot of you, 2 weeks in Buenos Aires is all you can really manage. You’ll go, spend scads of money on airfare, apartment, shoes, clothes, privates with X and Y, and then spend every waking moment taking class after class after class in those 2 weeks. You’ll be filled with Tango morning, noon, and night. Milongas, classes, food, more milongas, more classes. Your every waking moment will be tango, tango, tango…which is the whole reason you’re there in the first place. You didn’t fly 10000+ miles to sit on your ass you know!

From a Leading perspective, yes you’re going to get your head handed to you from the moment you land, yes you’re going to be intimidated, and yes you’re going to have more than a few dances with people from all over the world that will challenge you, change you, and bless you…all at the same milonga in the same night. That’s day one. The rest is an uphill climb for a variety of reasons.

From a Following perspective, same as above. You’ll see footwork that will confound you and then you’ll want to take privates to be able to do just that. Go ahead, knock yourself out.

The Dancing Reality is:

a.) You’re not going to be able to retain 90% of what you’ve seen, heard, or practiced. Even if you video the end result. The “how” you got there will elude you. And it’s the ‘how‘ part that’s insanely important!

b.) Most of what you have seen, heard, or tried to practice, you’re going to screw up and misremember. You’ll think you’re doing one thing, when in fact you’re doing another! The kicker is that you won’t notice it.

c.) Most of what you will see, hear, and learn will screw with your head because a good portion of the information is specific to just BsAs. Meaning that it only applies to BsAs.

d.) Most of what you will experience from shows and classes is showy noise that does not and can not work in the line of dance. The trick is to focus on the social stuff that you can actually use in the line of dance. The real trick is being able to see the difference between Tango for Export and Social Tango!

d.) The trick to getting the most out of your trip to BsAs is working on your foundation (your walk, your stability, your underlying technique). This can create change in you. Steps, patterns, figures, or dancing like X, Y, or Z will not help you. Change comes from how the foundation is put together. 🙂 

e.) The Argentines are a lovely people. They are. They’ve been through hell and back again. There is one immutable fact, no matter how ‘nice’ they are, they’re STILL not going to dance with you until you prove that you have a handle on this Tango thing…that means:

From a Leading perspective: Following the line of dance, not killing your partners with crazy, bullshit vocabulary (all 502 Sacadas known to man, or the 410 types of volcadas, etc all thrown into one song), and not bumping into anyone causing blood or limb loss. While at the same time looking elegant.  All the while, making it musical, fun, and engaging for your Follower partners and showing them off! This may prove to be challenging for you because the embrace will be filled with levels of compression, and the walk will be a near constant ‘impact’ that you’ll feel of the follower’s foot on the floor – not to mention the hanging, the pulling, and the pushing. If you’re looking for ‘stellar’, you’re lookin’ in the wrong place! Good luck!

From a Following perspective: Dancing with the locals is a bit easier. They’re actually wanting to dance with you, and not because you’re stellar either. It’s because you’re Norte Americano. The fact that you’re female and susceptible to their charms is…icing on the cake! Truth be told you’ve never had a man woo you like an Argentine man will. And the attention is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced (unless you’re Italian, or from NYC, and in which case you got this).  

f.) The floors, at certain times of the years, are packed. Read that as Jan – Mar. That’s the ‘high‘ season. When every teacher in the known universe is in Buenos Fuckin’ Aires. The floors are packed with teacher/dancers…of a sufficient quality that will quite literally blow your mind. The rest of the year, if you’re looking for that experience…good luck with that. It’s like a ghost town by comparison. Keep that in mind when you’re booking your trip, and looking for the dancing reality that is Buenos Aires. 

g.) Two fucking weeks is not fucking long enough. Quite honestly, you’re wasting your time and your money by spending two weeks there. It’s a waste of money to rush down there for 2 weeks. You ideally want to be there at least a month, and really 3 and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Quite honestly those first 2 weeks is just getting the lay of the land. The rest of the time is figuring out how you’re going to extend your stay by another 2 to 3 months! Realistically, you’ll be afraid and isolated the first few days. You’ll wonder how on earth you got yourself into this mess. Going to the Milongas and classes and wonder ‘WTF!‘. In the end you’ll be so sad when you leave that you’ll have forgotten the depths of the horrors your were thinking just a few days earlier. 

h.) Learn to pace yourself. All the running around you’re going to do is going to tire you out no matter how old or young you are. You can not do it all. Realistically it’s about finding good experiences, not about the quantity of those experiences. Quality is the order of the day. And learning how to pace yourself in the face of those quality experiences in the mass that is BsAs is quite essential. 

i.) You’re going to find people that you groove with, and not groove with. You will dance really well with some people and not others. There’s a reason for this: You’re all at very different places in your tango development. The more experienced you are as a dancer will allow you to dance with nearly everyone and create a ‘nice’ experience, and know how to manage those dances to make them palatable for both parties. The less experienced dancer (the one’s that hang, pull, push,can not navigate the floor musically. And then a few days later…you’ll ‘magically‘ be able to dance with X, Y, and Z for some reason. Again, simple reason, you’re getting in tune with the pace of Tango, and the idea of Tango that is BsAs. That getting in tune will leave you when you go back home. 

j.) Tango is very different at home than what you’ll experience in Buenos Aires. Very different. And yet…it is the same thing. Which is to say that while it looks the same, the music is the same, the people are the same…the experience itself is vastly different for a reason:  Dancing in Buenos Aires is about a way of life. At home, you’re trying to imitate that way of life in a 4 or 5 hour time period through a Milonga. The Milonga is a way of life in Buenos Aires, better known as “Tango Es Vida”. Once you understand this thing, Tango then takes on a whole different way of being as does your ‘two weeks‘ in BsAs. ©Tango Topics.

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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.

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