Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If you had to choose one step that should die, what would it be ?

This question is separate from the whole traditional vs. Nuevo style debate. Also, it doesn’t apply to stage tango. As we have already established, stage tango (escenario), done nicely, and on a stage, is a thing of beauty. It’s supposed to dazzle the audience. Wow them with intricate steps. With fishnetted legs tangled with trousered ones, suggesting something just a little bit more than just dance. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the milonga, where you are supposed to dissolve into the ronda and become invisible. Once you’re there, you get to become one with the music and with your partner, and you (should) dance for your partner.

So, for those of you who would like to eliminate quintessential Nuevo moves, like the colgada and volcada, I would urge you to reconsider on the following grounds. Yes, I would say that those steps don’t belong in a traditional setting and I don’t do them myself. But, they do provide an interesting sensation for the woman. It’s different, and if she’s into these moves, she would enjoy them. While I personally don’t like colgadas and volcadas that much,  I would say that they have some redeeming value residing outside of their showiness, namely that they do in fact provide a feeling for the lady.

With this argument, I would like to propose the following criteria for the nomination of the one step that should die: That the said move has no redeeming value outside of its showiness. In other words, that it provides no further fun or interesting sensations for the follower than another similar step, and that it is done solely for the pleasure of the leader. Leaders doing showy moves for their own pleasure, or worse, for the pleasure of the audience, are completely missing the point. To those leaders I would say: What is wrong with you? You have a wonderful lady in your arms, you listening to fantastic music and you are surrounded by great people who share your passion. You don’t need anything more. You don’t need the self-satisfaction of doing something “difficult”. Leading nicely and take care of your follower is difficult enough. Savor that and enjoy doing it well.

Anyway, without further ado, here is my choice for the step that should die in milongas: The man’s back sacada. It has no redeeming value. It provides no interesting feeling that a normal forward or side sacada can’t provide. It takes up way more space, and men who do it, do it just for the self-satifaction (The “oooh, look at me, I just did a back sacada” feeling). It is selfish, and if I were I asked to choose the one move that should die in social tango, I would, without hesitation, say: The man’s back sacada.


  1. I'm with you, up to a point. There are people who can do the man's back sacada in close embrace, so that it takes up very little space: I think you probably have to be both short and very flexible to do this, but I've certainly experienced it. But for me it doesn't really add much other than a sensation of 'did you really do that?'. And a downside is that most people should never even think about it.

    However, if I had to eliminate just one thing from social tango I would probably give priority to anything that involves the man wrapping his leg around mine in a way that makes me feel trapped: this does give a unique sensation, but an entirely unpleasant one. It would probably be called a man's gancho, I suppose.

    You could argue that that's personal taste. In which case I might try "any sort of lift". Again, though, it does give a special sensation - but mainly of embarrassment.

  2. Hmm, I hadn't really thought of the moves which might potentially give the follower an unpleasant feeling! I guess those moves would have a negative redeeming value (I don't think that phrase even makes sense :-P)!

    Interesting point, and again, there is no right or wrong answer!

  3. msHedgehog, while I realize your man-gancho criticism is confined to social dancing, I want to defend the merits of man-ganchos. Man-ganchos are way cool for performances, stage tango or not, especially for Laurenz/Troilo types of bandoneon playing like here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG8RcYWNrJw
    I've been investigating how to dance the variaciones of bandoneon so prevalent in Orquesta Laurenz, especially with Casas singing. I've tried different things with mixed responses, like walking back in a tight, closed circle in a fast way along with the music, and endlessly doing giros in both directions with a few sacadas here and there, the former being more satisfying, but the woman getting tired. Maybe I'll try the man-gancho in a subtle kind of way while performing a giro if and only if the dance floor is not too crowded whenever I have the opportunity. I'd like to hear a follower's perspective on how to dance these wonderful passages of the music

  4. @Jaimito, as a follower I would say giros with sacadas for music between sec 05-29. After that the soft melody starts and I personally would like it interpreted with something slower and softer.

  5. hm, i hadn't thought of lifts- yes, no lifts please!
    but my personal choice would probably have to be the barrida...