Review: Decadance / Tango Boot Camp

2nd April 2009


This was a mixed event - workshops, then food, then social dancing at Decadance proper.

There were two workshops, from 17.10-18.40 and 18.50-20.20 - in truth these overran a little so we didn't get out until around 9, but we all got our money's worth. The teachers were Stefano and Alexandra of Tango In Action.

There was food laid on for us at the nearby Station pub - nice pizza and desserts. The social dancing was until 2am (or 3am as the clocks went forwards).

Workshop 1: Small, quick clockwise and anti-clockwise turns

"Dancing tango is not about showing off. Now, we'll show you how to show off" ~ Stefano

This workshop was mainly based around two sequences, each of which involved the man walking around the outside of the woman. These weren't technically giro turns, more like a series of pivot-and-walk steps.

Sequence one: Man clockwise "giro"

This is the basic sequence:

  1. Man sidesteps to left and outside the lady (step 2 of the Basic 8 sequence)
  2. Man steps forwards on the right (long step) and pivots clockwise (up to 90 degrees)
  3. Man steps forwards on the left (short step)
  4. Man steps forwards on the right (long step) and pivots clockwise (up to 90 degrees)
  5. Man steps forwards on the left (short step)
  6. etc.

It's a simple sequence, but it's quite unusual, because the man's walking around the woman, and because the inside step is the larger; normally when turning the inside step is the smaller step.

To learn how to do this, we spent some time working on the "short / long" steps, firstly simply walking (offset) in straight lines to get the long / short bits down pat. We had a brief discussion on whether a dip was needed for longer steps. Personally, I like to dip; it's a good signal to my partner that I'm going to be giving more energy to them, and it helps me to give that energy in the first place. However, as always, these things are a matter of degree.

One common problem with this sequence was with the follower's over pivoting - that is, turning away from the leader, so the leader had to take progressively larger and larger steps to catch up. The solution, as always, is to only pivot the amount that you're led.

Sequence two: Man anti-clockwise "giro" to sacada

Men, you must always remember to wait until the woman's legs are opened." ~ predicable but still funny comment from Stefano.

The second pattern was more complex.

This is the whole sequence:

  1. Man sidesteps to left, changes weight, and stays on the inside of the lady (offset, but to the man's right)
  2. Man steps forward on the left foot (long step), pivoting anti-clockwise (up to 90 degrees). So, it's the same techniqe as the euivalent step in the first sequence, but in the other direction.
  3. Man steps forwards on the right (short step), then pivots anti-clockwise and steps forwards (short step) on the left
  4. Man steps forward on the right, sacada-ing the woman's outside foot (her left foot) with his right foot, leading to another anti-clockwise pivot
  5. Man leads the lady into a cross to finish.

To learn how to do this, we did steps 1 - 3 above, then finished with a cross. After we'd become familiar with that half of the sequence, we did the sacada-y bit of the sequence.

One problem I had was in positioning the legs correctly for the sacada - practice, as always, needed there.

One tip: don't hesitate with the pivot, it's one smooth motion.

Workshop 2: Dancing with energy and attitude

"This is dancing.... this is dancing... (mobile phone rings)... this is annoying" ~ Stefano

This entire workshop was about establishing a connection, and about using that connection to create a qualitative improvement in your dancing.

Firstly, we had a couple of volunteers up, and they were asked to stand a long way apart, whilst music was being played, and then to use the long introduction to come together, to establish a connection, and then to start dancing.

Stefano and Alex both emphasized that we should never be afraid of pausing. Of waiting. Of getting it right. Of calming down, not being driven by the steps, and of taking your time.

Note: at this point, I'd like to refer you, dear reader, to this experience of a follower. This is why it's important. Get the embrace right, and everything else will work.

Stefano made another comment, to the effect that almost no-one in milongas is actually dancing - they're mostly simply moving from one move to another. Basically, they're exercising, not dancing.

We spent the rest of the workshop simply rotating and developing connections with each other, ensuring we paused and waited to establish and retain a connection.

Very useful stuff.


After a dinner break at a local pub, we then returned to the venue for an evening of social dancing.

Good evening; two rooms, with a variety of music - Leroy Horns was accompanying the music for much of the evening, which was a lovely touch. There was a WCS demo, and everyone seemed very friendly.

Good day out.

- David Bailey, 2nd April 2009

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