Tango Extensions course, Week 5 class notes

26th April 2010

Week 1 Notes | Week 2 Notes | Week 3 Notes | Week 4 Notes | Week 5 Notes


  • Technique: Introduction to Milonga and Vals dances
  • Steps: Giros and weight transfers: tempo changes


Caveat: This session was not at a detailed Milonga class or Vals class. The aim is simply to introduce these dances, so that you can at least recognise them when they're played at a tango night, and decide whether to give them a go, or to sit them out.

Typically, one in every 6 "tandas" (groups of dances) is a Milonga, and similarly one in every 6 is a Vals. So up to a third of the dances in an evening will be non-Tango.

You may find a pattern like:

  • Tango tanda
  • Tango tanda
  • Vals tanda
  • Tango tanda
  • Tango tanda
  • Milonga tanda
  • Tango tanda
  • Tango tanda
  • etc.

If in doubt, sit it out.


Or, "The Fast One". Also, confusingly, the name for a dance night.

The good news is, it's fairly easy to fake - step on every beat, take small steps, keep it simple, and you'll be OK. The bad news is, it's typically a much faster rhythm, so you'll need to move quickly and lead / follow correctly, all the time; there are no real chances to pause in milonga.

We played a couple of milonga tracks, and danced to each of those.


Or, "The Waltz-y One".

The Tango Vals is danced to Waltz music 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, time.

Typically, you step on the "1" beat (to keep it simple) - so 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, and so on.. (Musically, this is probably closer to Viennese Waltz than traditional Waltz; it's not particularly slow in tempo.)

In terms of style, keep it simple, and don't try too many figures as these don't often fit with Vals dancing.

Again, we played a couple of Vals tracks, and danced to each of those.

Weight transfer - your friend!

We looked at the possibilities for stepping, then weight-transference in between each step. This allows tempo changes in vals, and allows you to control things a bit more in milonga.

Giro: tempo changes

A giro can be used in Tango, in Milonga (just about!), and in Vals, so it's a good movement to try in all three dances, to demonstrate the variations in tempo possible with this movement.

In tango - musicality

As we explored in last week's class, the "non-pivot" steps of a giro can be done quicker than the "pivot" steps (that is, in the "backstep - sidestep - forward step" part of the giro).

In Milonga

In a milonga, the speed of the dance mostly dictates against leading pivot-based steps; so ochos and the pivot-step part of giros are pretty much out.

However, you can lead the "backstep - sidestep - forward step" part of the giro to milonga speed.

In Vals

If you're just stepping on the "1" beat in Vals, it's quite possible to lead a giro, either with the same speed, or QQSS.

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- David Bailey, 26th April 2010