Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


The Adjustment Phase

The Adjustment Phase. First thing you’re going to ask yourself is what on God’s green earth is an ‘Adjustment Phase’ and secondly how does it relate to Tango ? Both are good questions, however before we get there, we have to do a little set up in order to answer those questions. So without further hoopla…Tango Topics presents: The Adjustment Phase. 😉 

The Set Up Part. As a Follower you’ve been waiting for a particular Lead to Cabeceo you. They look lovely to dance with, nice lines, nice steps, their Followers all look happy in their embrace. No crazy vocabulary that you’ve seen. Just walking, Traveling Ochos, some Argentine Crosses, and more than a few Follower’s Molinetes. Nice dancing. Nothing you can’t handle. You’ve positioned yourself in their line of sight and Mirada’d them, but nothing seems to work. Out of the corner of your eye someone is clearly Cabeceoing YOU, and the NOW Lead you wanted has made their choice for this tanda. Oh well. Sigh. So you accept the 2nd Lead’s request. 🙂 They come to you, walking around the edge of the floor, come right up to you, extend their hand, and then they escort to the portal to the floor where people are entering the line of dance. Absently, nicely done you think to yourself.

Your turn comes, and instead of you jumping into the line of dance, and because you’re the last to enter the line of dance, this Lead takes your embrace, and without missing a beat, they’re off like a Lion chasing a Wildebeest!

The Explanation Part. This set up sounds perfectly normal, right ? It’s what happens most of the time, and in truth it’s a good thing, to a point. We’ll get to why it’s a good thing in a bit. However for the most part, while this same process happens repeatedly night after night, at nearly every single milonga that you’ve ever gone to or will go to, there is something inherently wrong with it.

Something is missing. By now you’ve watched the video, and haven’t read this text so I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already surmised that the thing that’s missing is the fact that the Lead didn’t take their time with the embrace! More importantly, they ran off in the line of dance with their partner the moment that their partner embraced them! That’s the issue right there. This immediacy of racing off down the line of dance once the embrace completes.

Why is this a less-than-desirable has everything to do with the fact that the Lead in question didn’t take their time with the embrace or their Follower for that matter. They rushed the embrace process, and it is a process (more on that later), and quite rightfully a ‘settling’ time to get used to each other’s bodies. That’s it right there. Without getting too deep and/or intimate with this stuff, the fact is that while you may have danced with this person before, they still need to be treated with a moment or two (or three really…closer to three and pushing four or five, six if you can really stretch it and you can) of time to … here it comes, ‘adjust‘ to you.

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The Practical Part. So that I don’t get hate mail from some of you yelling about the reality of the situation that you’re in. Before we go any further we must address the reality of the situation: Sometimes with the idea of The Adjustment Phase isn’t practical. That in order to keep the Ronda moving, and to get the queue moving to get on the floor, we must abandon the idea of the Adjustment Phase. Sometimes. Not always though. Sometimes. However that doesn’t mean that we can not employ it as standard practice whenever possible! Oh and in case it’s not clear, this is part of the reason why it was stated above that shooting off like a wildebeest is a good thing.

thoughts about tango ?

The Before Part of the What To Do Part. The fact is that there really is only one thing to do. It is a process actually. And before we actually get to that, we have to talk about the line of dance, the portal space of the dance floor, and most importantly moving the ronda.

The Line of Dance. There is one in case you were unclear! I am not a floorcraft nazi, I have been known to break the rules of the Line of Dance now and again myself but only when there is space to do it. I am not perfect, and truth be told, I had to be schooled in much the way that you’re being schooled right now by a much nastier person than this page is seeming to be right now. That said, you must respect the line of dance. That means, in case you’re unclear, stay in your lane and follow the couple ahead of you and keep your vocabulary choices, selections, and executions within that space. Do not try to pass people, and do not try to overrun a couple ahead of you.

The Portal Space. Most Milongas, not all, unfortunately, are poorly planned out from a space perspective. How’s that ? There is no definitive portal area where all couples should que up and then enter and exit the line of dance. However, some organizers have gotten the hint, that said Portal area, is absolutely crucial to the success or failure of the line and lanes of dance being respected and more importantly that there is a smooth flow to the ronda!

The Moving Ronda. This part almost never get’s talked about – the Ronda must move, it must. Tango is not a static dance, much like swing or salsa that stands in one spot the entire time, Argentine Tango moves. It breathes. It flows around in a counter-clockwise pattern. That is the ronda. There are lanes of dance, and lines of dance (the direction of the ronda), that dictate how fast and where we are headed as a room. It is important to keep that ronda flowing, moving, at a ‘proper’ speed. Why ? Because if we don’t we end up doing something that has become part of modern tango. Turning. The entirety of the ‘dance’. The issue with modern Tango is that usually due to one or two couples, the ronda stops moving at a good pace, and as a result we end up employing turns everywhere. Remember that Tango is a walking dance ? There’s no walking in the turn! Yes there are steps in the turn, but that’s not exactly a walk is it ? No. It’s not. So as a result we spend most of the dance ‘turning’, and not walking. Why ? Because we can’t go anywhere, because the couple ahead of us isn’t moving, so we have to keep moving as a couple to the music, so we employ various and sundry variations (hopefully) of a turn of the eight types of turns that we use in Tango.

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The Process Part of What To Do. There are actually 6 parts to The Adjustment Phase that we as a couple want to do.

Part 1.) The Body-On-Body Physiological Contact for a moment.

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The Wrap Up. The fact is that this is a process that is to your benefit to start to employ in your dance on multiple levels, for both roles, not just for the Lead, but for the Follower as well. How’s that ? The Lead’s side of this is really obvious but for those of you not seeing it yet: Because it will create a moment connectivity between yourself and your partner that can create a really nice experience for both partners. Secondarily the dancers may bond a little bit more because they haven’t rushed into thing, but rather built something slowly, carefully, conscientiously. From a Following perspective, this is one way to slow your L/lead down on multiple levels. Kinesthetically, physically, mentally, and emotionally. To ground them. Which is always a good thing. There is no rush, none.

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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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