Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance

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DIASS – Extended Vocabulary Edition

Notation: The video above is only a 5-minute sampler of 2 of the 8 vocabulary choices in the full 22-minute video. Only paying subscribers can see the full video with the footwork.

Dancing In A Small Space is not without its challenges for a lot of dancers, space, obviously being chief among them. It doesn’t matter what role you’re dancing, you will still experience one, if not multiple, challenges. One common of those areas of concern is, for the Lead, keeping things small enough- at all times while at the same time not being repetitive (hence this post). As a side note, a Lead will tend towards compressing the embrace to ‘protect’ the Follower and may not realize that their version of an embrace is already compressive! So to them adding more compression with their hand or forearm to protect the Follower further, they’re completely aware that they’re adding compression, but what they’re unaware of is just how much compression is there to begin with! For the Follower, the reason that DIASS is challenging is the clear but obvious awareness that the floor is crowded and that they must keep things as tight as possible without injuring one’s self or any of the dancing couples around them. That means so that we’re clear: 1.) The Follower’s Molinete, and in specific their back step, must not go away from their Lead. 2.) The Follower’s Cross (The Argentine Cross), must be clean and small. 3.) Stability is absolutely crucial to your awareness of your surroundings. IF you’re wobbling all over the place, you’re fighting your stability and what not and are not aware of how much space you’re taking up! And that’s just the tip of the scary iceberg. God help you if you’re in BsAs for the first time, trying to dance at either Salon Canning, Villa Malcolm, El Beso…or the like. You’re going to be challenged in ways that this article will not mention but has mentioned in either our BsAs articles (seen here), or our other articles on Dancing In A Small Space.

All that said, there’s another challenge with Dancing In A Small Space, and that’s the “Lead’s Fallacy”. What’s that ? It’s where the Lead believes, erroneously so, that they can and should add much more vocabulary to keep the Follower interested, or to keep the Follower from being bored, or to seemingly elevate themselves to a better class of dancer. Not true. It is erroneous thinking that will not solve your problems in any way, shape, or form.

Truthfully you can dance the 5 Social Figures of Argentine Tango all night long and never feel a need to expand on it. It should be noted that usually adding more vocabulary is not necessarily a good thing. Ideally what needs to happen is a complete exploration of the variances of the vocabulary that you currently have access to. Again, not to sound like a broken record, this also means from a Leading perspective as well as a Following perspective. Which is to say: Understand what you’re doing. Explore Your Dance! This is also why it is absolutely crucial that the Lead and the Follower understand the Six Ways of Walking in all of their fabulous and wonderful permutations. There’s a reason why this site keeps advocating this idea, and that’s not only because it works, it’s because you could quite conceivably dance nothing but the Six Ways of Walking all night long with every partner and they’d never be bored, you’d never be bored, and you’d have near-infinite exploration of the dance! And then there’s the next layer, that’s adding the musical permutations that can be explored. Hundreds upon hundreds of vocabulary variations that you can think of and then some.

So unless these things are done then Today’s Tango Topic is absolutely pointless! That said, let’s dive into today’s topic of Dancing In A Small Space: The Extended Vocabulary Edition (EVE).

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Have you seen the Walking Systems video ? This video series showcases the Six Ways of expanding your walk in Tango using: Parallel System Walking, Cross System Walking, Three Track Walking, ‘Lazy’ Ochos, The Snake Walks, & Alternate Walking.

Learn > The Six Ways of Walking

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What is DIASS: EVE ? In short, this is a series of 8 pieces of tango vocabulary that tangotopics has identified to be used as accent or “spice” in addition to Five Social Figures (and its variations) as well as volume 1 and volume 2 of Dancing In A Small Space (DIASS) in Argentine Tango. The key component in the sentence here is ‘ACCENT’ or ‘SPICE’. Most of this stuff is a little flash, with the exception of #7 and #8, but aside from those things this stuff is purely to be used as more than a variation and as a  singular usage at best. They should not be used as the repetitive movement over and over again so as to annoy one partner and one’s partner should not expect it, nor should it be required of them either!

This isn’t rocket science, it’s really simply in fact. ‘EVE’ as we’re calling it, is really just a conglomeration of vocabulary that you see everyday at Milongas that has been modified to fit within the line, and lane, of dance with one monster modification: They’re Smaller than their regular kissin’ cousins. The idea is to make this stuff fit inside the lane of dance, and fit inside the line of dance, and more importantly to take up no more space than the standing spot that you’re currently over. No stepping backwards (mostly). No breaking the line of dance. No exiting one’s lane. One must keep the ronda moving at all times. This is the Marathon/Encuentro/BsAs environment where things are packed tighter than a snail’s ass! In this environment things have to ‘fit’ precisely, otherwise blood or bones will be exposed and we don’t want that to happen…ever. To be fair, and while it was mentioned above, we’re mentioning it here in its definition as a reminder, do not attempt some of this stuff until you mastered walking cleanly, clearly, and without wobbling or needing your partner to walk. If you can’t walk backwards by yourself in a pair of 3 in heels without crossing over your natural body meridian or you can not walk (as a Lead) without crossing over the body’s natural meridian or supinating your feet to do so, then there are issues to say the least that need to be addressed.

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Notation: When the “What is … ” section of an article is blue, that means that the article is freely available to registered, users. When the section is yellow, the article is still free, but the video is for paid users. 😉 

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What are in the Eight Pieces of Vocabulary in EVE ?

1.)Follower’s Calecita. (All users) This is basically the Follower walking in Forward or Backsteps (although the latter is uncommon and some difficult to actually lead for a variety of reasons, most notably: habit) around their Lead. Calecitas can be done in Open or Close Embrace, but in this case because we’re talking about DIASS methodology, we’re talking in Close Embrace and making things very small and gradual for both roles. All users.

2.)The Simple Sacada. (Freemium/Subscriber) The Simple Sacada can be done in Open or Close Embrace, but this is DIASS so we’re employing it here in small spaces as methodology to engage a turn. Which by the way has an interesting possible side effect where the Follower can be led to engage in a Milonguero Turn as a result instead of the resolution that you see above. The Tango Topics Subscriber sees both of these options in the full 22-Minute video. 🙂

3.)Argentine Enganche/Wrap. (Subscriber Only) In North America we call this a ‘Wrap’. Where the Follower’s leg wraps between and around the Lead’s. The problem with these pieces of vocabulary are that they can go wildly wrong, mostly on the part of the Follower who is unconscious of their leg and what has to happen to it. 😉 And when we’re talking about DIASS methodology, that wrap has to be insanely tight, small, and fast. The Follower has to get in and out just as quickly.

4.)Single Axis Turn. (Subscriber Only) Seemingly this piece of Tango vocabulary was made for DIASS methodology. Thankfully it takes up very little space. The only problem with it is its entry point, and a failure to engage the Mordita (the foot sandwich). A lot of Followers, and rightfully so, mistake the opening of the Single Axis Turn for a Volcada. Why ? That’s because they start out almost exactly the same way. And due to the prevalence of the Volcada over a Single Axis turn the Follower will mistakenly think “Ahh Volcada”, and thereby release their ‘free’ foot/leg and allow it to swing free. While this isn’t such a huge thing. It does impede the required centrifugal force that is generated by the turn itself. Thereby slowing down the turn.

5.)Social Volcada. (Subscriber Only) Yes you can add a Volcada to DIASS. Should you ? That’s a completely different story. All we’ll say is this: Use. It. Sparingly. Like as in ONCE IN A BLUE MOON! There’s a reason why this entire topic is accent vocabulary and not the meat of the dance. This piece completely exemplifies it. Yes it’s loads of fun, and yes it’s cool. But to engage it as your goto move…not so much with that! That said, the SOCIAL Volcada is not an egregious one. Meaning it’s really small and fits within the line and lane of dance. It’s nothing more than a glorified argentine cross, that’s a bit more flashy. There are several examples of this piece of vocabulary here on Tango Topics, here’s just one of them:

6.)Floating Cross. (Subscriber Only) Arguably on this list this one will create an enormous amount of confusion, because watching the floating cross, and doing/feeling the floating cross are two very different things. There is a tiny amount of ‘lilt’, and that lilt is the floating part. It’s a glorified Follower’s Back Cross, but it’s a back cross that takes its time.

7.)Parallel System Rock Step. (Subscriber Only) The quintessential goto move for most Leads. They use it so often and with such frequency that you’d think that it was one of the 7 primary foundational moves. That’s not true of course. But still. This piece, when used properly and not overused (hint, hint, hint … remember this is accent vocabulary here), can create an interesting surprise for the Follower. At the same time the Follower has loads of options to play with Rock Step adornments and amagues, especially with the resolution. The two problems, as with all adornments and amagues is always a.) the Lead not rushing through X. and b.) time! The other problem with the Step Step/Resolution is that it is all too easy for this thing to violate the prime directive of DIASS. It can take up too much space! Oddly enough this particular Rock Step can lead (no pun intended) to the last item on this list….

8.)Ocho Cortado. (Subscriber Only) THE goto move of most leads in DIASS, but oddly enough it was left out of the first 2 iterations but was included in the FIVE SOCIAL MOVES

When are Different Vocabulary Used and Why ?

In certain types of Tango Events one particular type of moves are used more often and more predominantly than others. The reason is that some types of vocabulary work best depending on the venue and the type of Tango being invoked or danced. For instance:

Weekly, Local Milonga ? All 8
Marathon? All 8
Festival or Mini-Festival ? All 8
Encuentro ? All but #1 & 3.
Buenos Aires ? It depends on the venue. But, all but #1,#3,#5. There’s no space for that noise

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Reality of WHY You Need This: There are many moves, steps, patterns, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that most of that stuff is ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! Mind you this is one side of the argument. This ain’t that! This piece is one of the more venerable selections of Argentine Tango that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos/Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete/Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. Tango Topics take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! Our case is that you need this stuff because > This is all about foundation, or one of the Seven Foundation Steps that we use all the time to create the dance that we know as Argentine Tango. That’s why! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch this stuff. You can learn what you need from this video and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video itself is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things. That is the reality of WHY you need this stuff. So subscribing for a few months to TangoTopics to get what we’re on about wouldn’t kill you. Further, it would probably help to hear another person saying what your current tango teacher has been saying all along. Think of this stuff as one more reminder that you absolutely need to hear.


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Have you seen our Ocho Transition Series ? This important four-part series covers the four important transitions between the two common type of Ochos (Traveling & Milonguero), and the 2 common types of turns (Molinete/Giro, and Milonguero). Each one is a challenge on its own. And each one can seriously up your dancing abilities.

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) 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. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the 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 vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This 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 Perspective 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 allows 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. 


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