Tango Argentino > What makes AT fun for a beginning leader?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by salsera_alemana, Jan 11, 2007.

  1. Ampster,

    I found a way to make it work. It works with RealPlayer.
    I really like this station, the music is different to the other two stations, softer, much more melodious and happier, much easier to listen to for tango newbies. Real beautiful music!

    I like Osvaldo Pugliese and Taturi among others (always checked the artists when I really liked a song, was cooking and listening at the same time and running back and forth between stove and notebook, hehe). And there was this song called something like Narcotango or similar, can't exactly remember. All that music was so much "lighter" than what I heard on the other two stations I mentioned.

    Will listen to it again tomorrow!
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    There's an album called "NarcoTango" by Carlos Libedinsky, is that the one?
  3. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Going back to the original question, I'm in a similar situation I think - I've only done Tango for a year now, but I did a lot of salsa before that.

    I found that my salsa experience both helped and hindered me:

    It helped, because I knew about partner dancing, and about lead-and-follow. I also knew that I wouldn't "get it" immediately, so I was a bit prepared for a long learning curve.

    It hindered, because I had to relearn how to move - no hip-wiggling, for example. So I had to unlearn a lot of habits.

    Interestingly, I'm now finding my salsa is looking a bit more like Tango in a way, lots of foot decorations, ballroom hold, and so on...
  4. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Glad you liked it!

    Narcotango is an album by Carlos Libedinsky. Lot's of good stuff. BTW, this album definitely falls into the category of "Nuevo Tango." Same genre as Gotan Project, Bajofondo Tango Club.

    When I was a beginner, I was amazed at the incredible depth of music Argentine Tango was danced to. You not only have the Tango, Milonga, Vals. But now, you can dance them to original Tangos, original Milongas, original Valses, New arrangements of traditional/original music, and nuevo tango music. All have their appeal, all have their challenges, all make up for a very rich experience.
  5. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Don't forget 'alternative tango music'! As in, music never meant for AT at all, but to which you can dance AT. Which is pretty much everything.

    For the record, some people consider Gotan/Bajofondo/Narcotango/etc. to be "Neo-Tango" or "electronic tango," and things like Piazzola to be "Nuevo Tango." (Just in case you run across those terms.)
  6. Dave Bailey,
    So we are in the same boat, you are just much more advanced.
    How has your learning curve been in one year?
    Has tango been much more difficult for you than salsa?

    From what I learn here in this forum, tango is a very free dance without much structure compared to other dances that are mostly danced in basic step with some step variations for advanced dancers (e.g. salsa: 1-2-3 - 5-6-7).

    In my pre-salsa dance life (a long time ago) I learned and danced other dances (viennese waltz, foxtrott, jive, rock'n'roll) in social settings, so salsa was not the first (partner) dance I learned and I am used to follow my leads. I always highly preferred partner dancing over free (disco) dancing, even as a teenager. So following will not be new to me.

    My girlfriend who is salsera and tanguera also incorporates tango steps into her salsa and they look very sexy and nice.

    Ampster, Peaches and everybody else:
    Thanks for the terminology clarifications, explanation of steps (valse) etc. In this thread I have learned a lot of basic knowledge about tango thanks to you all. You can let it keep coming...:)

    Now, how can I get all those sexy moves (sorry about the salsa term), i.e. all the sexy stuff one can do with legs and feet, to look real good (ladies styling). I guess at the beginning certain kicks and foot action will look rather awkward than sophisticated :oops:...
    Would I have to start a new thread for this?
  7. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member


    With pleasure! If there's anything I love talking about, it's AT!

    Ask your teacher to start showing you basic styling right from the beginning. Jennifer Bratt, who's a pretty well-known and well-respected dancer, has some great articles on AT, and some good advice about practicing embellishments. (Embellishments are what you're talking about, by the way.) w w w.close-embrace.com.

    Once you're shown basic things, then practice. I don't have much other advice, b/c I strenuously resist embellishments. But one of my favorite pieces of advice from one of Jennifer's articles was a story she tells about a class in Bs.As., where the teacher (a woman) was encouraging the students by saying "mas fea, mas fea!" (More ugly, more ugly!) The idea was that we expect the men to be decisive in their leading, so the women should take responsibility and be confident with their embellishments, even if they're not the prettiest, yet. In time, and with practice, they'll come.

    Also, realize, you won't be starting off with a lot of the fancy kicks and stuff. You'll start out with smaller, simpler embellishments. A lot of the fancy stuff isn't so much ladies' styling, as it is led-and-followed steps which require some skill. So...gotta walk before you can run.
  8. Oh, I know! I might sound like my brother when he was 3 or 4 years old and said when he is big he wants to become a boss right away and not start as an apprentice.
    However, I believe if somebody had told or taught me to pay attention to also moving my hands and upper body when I started learning salsa about 16 years ago, styling would have come easier to me. At that time nobody talked about styling and nobody taught it. All that was taught was steps and turn patterns. That is why I ask what I can do from the beginning to look elegant rather than awkward (kind of "handycapped" and make a fool of myself, hehe).

    Hey, they are playing Edith Piaf (La Foule) on radiotango, didn't know this song has anything to do with tango. I would dance waltz to it.
    By the way, the song I had in mind yesterday was not Narcotango, it is called Electrocutango by Felino. I really liked that.
    Here is another real nice song: "Tus labios me dirán" by Rodolfo Biagi, very romantic and beautiful.
  9. Oh, I am getting really exited with this music: Muchachita de París by Juan d'Arienzo. So beautiful!
    Hope I don't start getting on your nerves...
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    You will in my opinion look sexy, elegant and like a better dancer, if you learn to do some basic things first, rather than working on adornments. For instance, collect, collect, collect. Stand with feet touching the floor with one foot holding all of your weight, with no weight on the other foot. Unless you have excellent posture, you will look elegant only if you stand up straight, with your pelvis in a neutral position, and keep your head from leaning over. Your leg should extend straight back from your hip when you step backwards (but don't move back by yourself), and keep your toes very close to or on the floor.
    Many teachers don't emphasize these things, and if you work on adornments, and not these basics, you many find yourself in the same situation as you did with your salsa.
    I know way too many women who get off onto tangents like learning adornments or "kicks" while their basics are still very weak.
    These basic things will not only make you look good, they will make you feel good to your partners.
  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I had a lovely AT dance to "Groovin' " last week :)
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    "More advanced"... I doubt it, probably more accurate to say "doing it longer" :grin:

    It's been a challenge. Fortunately for me, there's a group of us who've all started learning at about the same time, so we can support each other in our regular "Tango Crises" (as in "I'll never understand this dance")

    Yes, I think so - although I learnt salsa over 10 years ago, so possibly I've forgotten the pain. The key problem for me with salsa was getting the timing right, and feeling the rhythm; once I got that, through many many hours of practice, it wasn't too difficult.

    With Tango, it's not really the music, or even the steps; it's the whole positioning and precision of the dance which I find the most difficult.

    I think that's right, yes - because each step is led, there are few (no?) patterns in Tango, it's more about interpretation and musicality.
  13. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    No, for all intents and purposes, there are no "Step patterns" in Argentinean Tango.

    For example, in Ballroom Tango (American or International) to do a "Prominade," you first finish the 5 step T-A-N-G-O, then the leader's foot cocks obliquely, his hips touch the torso of the lady, then nudges her hip to face in the direction of the next T-A-N-G-O, heads snap smartly forward, arms, hands should be in this position...etc., etc., etc. This is a step pattern by which judges have a consistent method of scoring.

    In Argentinean Tango, the preceeding does not exist. There are however "Rules" that are followed. These rules can be strung together and interpreted by the leader to form "The dance."

    An example of some of these rules:
    • The leader blocks the forward movement of the follow with a leg=Parada
    • The leader touches the follow's foot to hold it in place until moved=Barida
    • Leader does more than two steps off center to the follow's left=Follow goes into a Cruzada (depending on the lead/follow this is sometimes led)
    • Leader moves off center=Follow moves to realigns center
    Etc, etc, etc. It is much more dynamic than just memorizing steps. All of the "Rules" are also led.
  14. I have never danced a dance like that, without step patterns or basic step (I assume TA has a basic step?) and it is hard for me to imagine that as a follower you are totally "at the leader's mercy", i.e. you cannot dance without the leader leading you properly.

    In other dances I can do the steps I learned. Of course, I should follow the leader but I am not 100% depending on him to do my steps.

    Sounds like an andventure...
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I'd say the answer to your question is yes, and no.

    That there is a 'basic' can be (and is, forever) debatable. There is an 8 count basic. You never really see it danced, the way you'd see a basic in, say, cha cha. AFAIK, it's used as a teaching tool, or a shorthand. "Step 4" is shorthand for the man stepping outside partner--to the left of the lady--with his left foot. Any step where the man is going outside partner, with his left foot, to the lady's left is described as a "Step 4." Which is not to say that it has to be preceeded by #3, or followed by #5. The 8CB is a means of becoming familiar with the most common kinds of simple, one step, kinds of walking that you find in AT.

    As for being completely dependent on the lead for your steps...again, yes and no. The man is the lead. He is in charge. In asking a lady to dance he willingly takes the responsibility for taking care of "his" lady, and the musical interpretation for the duration of the tanda. As such, he directs the steps. He's a leader. Embellishments, however, can be done at the lady's perogative, so long as they do not interfere. There are times when the man gives the lady time to "play," in which case she is the one to signal when she's finished and ready to let him resume leading.

    More advanced ladies (not me) can "steal" time to do their thing. And also, more advanced ladies can (so I'm told--again, I'm not there yet) do various things to contribute her interpretation and influence the lead. Beyond that, though, I can't tell you much.

    But still, fundamentally, the man is in charge of the tanda. It may be a conversation, but it's still at his direction. He leads each...individual...step.
  16. FTL

    FTL New Member

    AT prefers to use the term "elements" instead of "patterns or basic steps". The elements of AT are generally much shorter than ballroom patterns and can be interrupted after one or two steps to switch or incorporate a different element. It is a like Lego toy. You cannot really see any resemblance to a toy unless you assemble those plastic cubes.

    AT is a dialogue and not necessarily 100% led or dictated. As a leader I might lead her to execute certain steps but she might decide to incorporate some embellishments and play with the music for a while. If that happens I do give her the time. The reverse is also true. For example, she waits for me when I'm trying to do displacements especially during fast turns (gyro or molinete).
  17. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    what would be quite the feat...!!!
  18. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    *chuckles* It was a short lady :)
  19. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I am a bit late in this thread, but for me there is one more thing that makes AT fun for a beginning (or any :) ) leader: The follower.

    If the follower allows herself to be lead, at least attempts to get how the leader is hearing the music and in in the "now" AT is very enjoyable for a leader. Especially when i was a beginning leader i was so grateful for any follower that actually tried to , well, follow me. I only got a few dances with advanded followers, but i still remeber how i was almost scared by the the pure intensity with which advanced followers listen (at least the ones who try to be nice to beginning leaders and dance with them like they dance with more advanced ones) - it was almost like when one of my friends allowed me to drive his porsche - this sense of concentrated power that yould just need the timiest nudge to break loose.

    If the follower looks over your shoulder and tries to flirt with other people while dancing with you, throws in embellishments in steps where she obviously has not enough time to do so, forces figures that were not actually lead - e.g. there is a huge group of woment who seem to feel that ganchos are caused not by having a relaxed leg following a lead body impulse but by kicking whenever there the leader has his legs far enough apart to allow it, then the dance is not really that fun.

    Because everything is so freeform the main thing that is enjoyable is the connection, and i think it is actually the followers skill/trust that makes tango fun - as a leader I can't make a dance fun - i can make it technically challenging , but not fun, - the followers sensitivity and interpretation, and having a danced conversation about the music, and about tango style makes it fun.

    That leads to the odd phenomenon that i had some very nice dances with followers who didn't know any tango - just walking, a bit of swaying. a bit of double time swaying to play with the music, maybe one or two massivly overlead mirrored ochos - they relaxed, followed, and at the end of the tanda we both smiled. And then i had scary, scary dances with intermediated followers - they had very definite ideas of what they wanted to follow, and what embellishments they whanted to do when, and i basically had to either start a wrestling match, or follow them. And while i don't mind following (im bad at it though :( ) this left me havign neither the leader nor the follower role, so i felt a bit superfluous....

    So what i want to say is if you want your partner to enjoy AT you have to enjoy dancing AT with him - with stress on _him_ - if you want to enjoy certain moves, or the music or whatever that is not his (or "yours in relation to him") it feelable, and not fun. Enjoy his choice of moves, his interpretation of the music. We always talk about how a leader is inviting the follower, and then the follower accepts (or gracefully declines (emphasis on gracefully - if she doesn't want to do a gancho, i feel it is much nicer to smile, relax, use the impulse and space for a small boleo on the outside than to tense up and fight the lead to a standstill) - i think that in the same way the follower has to invite the leader to her musicality and embellishments.

  20. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Right on.

    (Except maybe for the embellishment part. I don't think of ganchos and boleos as embellishments, but they certainly can be unled "moves". If embellishments are done without disrupting the lead, and they are not done excessively, they are ok with me. Especially if my foot or leg is part of the embellishment!)

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