Tango… It is a Man’s world too!

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 13 Oct 2016 | 0 comments

Dear Tangueros,

I went around and chatted with a few male friends and students, asking what their biggest challenges are in Tango and what they focus on the most when they are dancing.

Connecting with the follower was at the very top of the focus-list for every single one of the leaders I talked to.
“Establish a good 1on1 dialogue”
“Not competing with my partner, but working together to create a dream(…)”
“A connection beyond the limits of words and vocabulary”

Just, when you thought, you’ve got it..!
Just when you thought that, you created an amazing dance for her, the best of all dances of the night, of the milonga, of the whole Tango universe..!
Just when you thought that this was such a dazzling experience, she will be thinking of no other for the whole milonga..!
You(thinking): “This is AWESOME!!!”
Opening of the embrace….taaaam, taam, tam
: “Thanks…”
You have been frustrated with yourself, with the followers, with milongas, with the dj, with the Tango Messias-who were supposed to change your Tango world…!
So, *F*** this!!!

I have my own recipe and I am going to stick to it, maybe watch a few more videos for ideas, maybe practice a bit more, but most importantly make sure I dance with women who are actually open to dancing with me, who want to share something with me, who actually trust me, who choose me for me. Leading to:
The pep-talk:
There are plenty of women out there, if one can’t appreciate what I have open- mindedly shared with her, I am sure there are many other women who will! 
TIP #1 one the many you will get from this article…
Women’s thoughts on this: OMG!!! Another one of those!!!
 I know what you are thinking..!
Another female Tango teacher, with obvious dance background, trying to tell me that she understands, and that we all went  through the similar  *shhh..t* in the beginning!!!

You’re right!
I haven’t gone through awkward phases, like this:

Where you feel awkward and basically feel like a dork, thinking that she probably hates your guts and wondering when this awful night is going to be finally over!!!!

I surely haven’t been in situations, with dudes saying:
“Alpha male don’t dance… they don’t need to!”

And I never had to hide from my bros the fact that I absolutely love to dance, just because disgusting posts, like this one, can be found all around the web:
“I took a few ballet lessons when I was a kid before people calling me homo put me off it…”

When it comes to dance classes though, just like you I too, started leading from class #1 because we didn’t have any leaders.

Just like you, I didn’t have the slightest idea, when to start, on this completely unknown music.

Just like you, I hated traditional music, I couldn’t stand it… I felt like, my grandfather would probably be able to do a much better job than me!

Just like you, I got weird comments of “machismo” such as:
 “ If you want to lead, you have to lead like a MAN!”,
“The follower is like a Queen, you create the path for your Queen to pass..!” 
Just like you I had my share of:
“This is too tight…” “This is too loose…”
“No no no this too close” but now “This is too open…”
Her: “Oh! I just danced with X and he is just amazing at this! You should do this and this and this and blah blah blah”
Me: nodding (& thinking:  “ If you followed, things would have been so much better!!!”)
Her: “blah, blah, blah…I am only trying to help…”
Me: nodding (& thinking: “NEVER dancing with you again…!”)
Her: here it comes….the EYE-ROLL!!!:  
A few amazing tips for you gentlemen, that will get wonderful followers lining up to dance with you– before you even change into a Tango God!!!

3 things before we start:

  • Confidence Vs Arrogance: Women, absolutely, positively HATE the latter!!!
    I know you are not arrogant, it is usually the frustration building up…
    As you are trying though to boost your confidence, don’t over do it..! No bio presentation between dances either!!!
  • Also women hate passive-aggressive, secretly bitter old maids, as much as you do! No bitching between dances!!! Unless it’s for jokes..!hah
  • Get to know your music! Then you can be the one all followers are talking about, when saying: “He is a beautiful leader! He doesn’t do intricate sequences, but he is very musical!”
  • Women like surprises, ONLY if they are good ones!!! Watch it with those new moves you picked up..!

So here go:
MUSICALITY– Its NOT all about the beat!!!

  • Choose 4-5 songs that are rhythmical. The faster the song the more challenging this is going to be, but pick a few of them for now so you have options.
    Some ideas:
  • Choose what suits your taste and start by actively listening. This means, you don’t dance to the song. Do NOT think of any moves. ONLY listen to the songs over and over and over again, trying to hear when there is solid, strong beat( chang, chang, chang) and when there is melody. NOTHING more, just listen!
  • Choose one song out of your list- preferably the one you feel more comfortable with! Each time the rhythmical part comes up, you just march to it, around the room. When the melody comes up you stop moving completely, waiting for the beat to start again.
    ABSOLUTELY NO TANGO yet! Not even side steps, a pure, gym- like march!
  • After you repeat the previous step so many times, you could actually sing the song to us, then change the march to Tango-y shift of weight on the rhythmical parts. Pause on the melodic parts.
  • After a !!!MILLION!!! repetitions, you do forward steps on the rhythmical parts and side steps on the melodic parts.
    *NOTICE#1* :How different the forward steps feel compared to the side steps.
    *NOTICE#2* :What you need to do to change pace and direction
  • When you start feeling super- duper comfortable with this– you could challenge Sebastian Achaval on these forward steps:
    Change things around. Do side steps on the rhythm and forward on the melody. And then start playing, more and more with it, splitting the rhythmical part between forward steps and shifts of weight and similarly work on the melody.

So basically the idea here is to start from the music and not from the steps..!
Get into it with a child’s mind!!!
Children won’t stop to think: “Oh! Where is the “1” so I can start dancing!!!”

NOOOO!!! They just start dancing, moving around, having fun with it!!!


  • Choose a sequence, you feel super comfortable with. A sequence you have done so many times, you can’t even bare to hear the name of it, any more.
    For example: Back ochos and sandwich, Box step… whatever, it doesn’t matter. It has to be something you can do even with your eyes closed!
  • Then you change the way you get into it.
    For example: Back ochos and sandwich. If you are usually getting into back ochos from a side step, try to replace that with maybe a forward or back step.
    Or: You can actually replace the back ochos with something else like forward ochos.
    These are only ideas!
    Get creative here!!! Have fun, try different ideas, different options. There is no follower with you at this phase, so you shouldn’t limit yourself in any way.
  • Every sequence, is a “new” sequence you come up with. After exploring the different entrances, do each one of them following the dance- line. See what works on the dance- floor. You would need to shadow dance– meaning dance as if you had a partner with you. Make sure every move you create, it is created with the maximum precision and accuracy, not just doing the step.
  • After you repeat this exercise a gazillion times– you are almost hating yourself by now– go back to the initial sequence and change the way of exit.
    For example: back ochos and sandwich, usually the follower passes over and we close with forward ochos.
    So instead: Maybe exit with back ochos, or with forward steps for her–back steps for you, or with an ocho- cortado or whatever else you can come up with..!
  • Again put it on it the dance floor!!!!
  • Put everything together!!!! The different entrances with the different exits!!!How many options do we have?!?!?!
    A lot, REALLY a lot!!! 
    The more you work on it, the more options you will be coming up with! And all great surprises for the followers!!!

Put the two together..!

  • Pick the simplest of your sequences, and adjust it to the rhythmical and the melodic part of the music. It will take many, many, many reps. Try different things, different options, until you find what fits.
    There is not really right and wrong here!!!
    *NOTICE* I didn’t say you start on 1 and on 4 you need to be there and then close it on 8.
    Even as I am writing this, I feel your eyes are glazing..! Come Back!!!
    Just make each part of the sequence fit the melody and the rhythm, NOTHING MORE!!!
  • Put it again on the dancefloor. After you practice, with the music and going around, with your ghost- lady– no complaints from this one…haha– make your space smaller..! And you keep going!!! Every time, you feel ready, you make the space even smaller.
    See how it affects your sequence!!!
    *NOTICE* :You can get really creative with this..! Maybe get chairs in your space pretending there are other couples in your way. This way, you are making the space smaller and more crowded!
  • Then you do the same for all the sequences you came up with!
    First, you try to figure out how they fit to the rhythmical and the melodic parts of the music, shifting things around while you are at it..!
    I just love this part, makes me feel so creative, so productive!!!
    And afterwards, you start trying with the different sized dancefloor.
  • After, you’ve gone through this, with a couple of your sequences, you will start noticing, that some things work better on the beat and others work better on the melody. Plus, you will find yourself, remembering how the song goes and being able to plan ahead. You will be 100% sure on how the song goes, that right after this melodic part, we have another melodic part followed by the rhythmic part. Which means what?!?!
    You will be able to hit that first strong beat right to the bone!!! No hesitation, no second thoughts, you will just go for it!!!

Yeah baby, it’s happening!!! Because now you know, you are not guessing anymore, you know!!! You know the song and you know what you want to do and when!

There many other ways you can explore the music and combine it with improvisation. Try this one and leave me a message with your thoughts.

Stay tuned, as much much more material is coming!!
Don’t skip any steps of this process!!!
Aaaaand don’t forget to have fun!!!

Chrisa Assis


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Published: 13 Oct 2016 @ 11:48


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