David goes to Edinburgh... Four: Sunday Supplement

31st May 2010


After coming to Edinburgh, and spending Friday and Saturday, it's time for the final stretch - two workshops and a milonga to go...

Workshop 1 - Milonga

(Advanced level)

Class with Horacio and Cecilia

There was a single piece of music played throughout - however, like a numpty I managed to forget to ask what it was (I can hum it, if that helps....?). For most of the workshop, we mainly focussed on interpretation for the introductory part of that music.

Section 1: On-beat and off-beat movements

Firstly, we walked around, whilst Horacio clapped the time; firstly walking to the beat, and then walking to the "out" (off) beat. That is, walking in between the claps. Much more difficult.

Using the intro music piece, and partnering up, we then walked to the off-beat, then the on-beat. I found this really tricky; I'm so conditioned in milonga to always walking on the beat, I had to force myself to move on the off-beat, it felt very weird and unnatural.

Horacio then demonstrated using different, "cut", movements (staccato), for the off-beat steps, combined with standard "smooth" movements for the on-beat movements. Again, challenging. At this point, trying to do this, I realised that whilst I was OK with "Advanced" level in Tango, I am much more of a beginner with Milonga.


From that point on, I hid behind everyone else when Horacio asked for people to demonstrate the concepts being taught.

Section 2: The Hula-hoop

The second section demonstrated a lovely hip-wiggling motion. The idea is that you take a side-step, then "break" your partner at the hip - loosening up the hip area. You can then lead her into wiggling her hips around in a semi-circular way, using the momentum of the sidestep to do so.

The way I think of it, is as a "hip-boleo", or "mini-colgada" where the hips move but the upper body and the legs don't.

Ironically, the more experienced Tango followers seemed to be the ones who had the most trouble with this - presumably because they've spent so much time controlling their hips, loosening them up was so difficult. Whereas, I tried it on a couple of beginners afterwards, from scratch, and they were quite relaxed about it.

Section 3: "Tippy-toes"

This was a fun little movement to finish of the workshop. Basically, the man leads the woman to one side, takes a forwards step, then leads the woman to the other side slowly - allowing the woman to take tiny, fast steps to get from one side to the other.

This only works where the music has a very fast section, so knowing the music is essential. But it allows a great opportunity for the follower to "play" in that phrase.

As always, it's all about the music...

Workshop 2 - Sacadas: Flow and Definition

(Intermediate level)

Workshop with Jenny and Ricardo


We started off with some exercises.

  • Leading a normal giro, with the men synchronising weight transfers with the woman's steps. The woman had to make each step very exact and precise, so that the man could tell where the woman was at each point, without needing to look down.
  • Secondly, a "super-sacada" set of steps - again, leading the giro, but with the man sacada-ing each individual step. The man effectively steps forwards "into" the woman with each step.

Some technique points:

  • Walk under the ladies' collarbone - that's the point to aim towards; past the ankle and directly beneath the ladies' collarbone.
  • Almost by definition, it's only a sacada step if the step goes past the follower's balance point.

As a final exercise, we semi-reversed roles, with the man stepping in a giro (forward-side-forward) around the woman, who sacada-d the man.


We then worked on a sequence, with involved leading a back media-giro, with a pasada over the leader's left foot, then leading the woman into the man's body to sacada him, then optionally sacada-ing the women's next sidestep.

(I won't go into the details of the sequence, as these are not really relevant)

The key point about leading the woman to sacada the man is that the lead for this needs to be ultra-clear, it must remove all doubt from the woman's mind - as otherwise she will automatically walk "around" the man.

This was a great way to finish the weekend. The class was not too challenging, but more than interesting enough to hold my attention throughout.

The Sunday Milonga

For the Sunday session, the milonga was back in the Debating room in Teviot House (as for the Friday milonga), but there was also a "non-traditional" room downstairs, for variety.

The demonstration on Sunday night was by Pablo and Noelia - to be honest, I didn't fancy squashing into the main room to watch this, and I'd have preferred the music in the other room to have continued to allow us the option. Maybe next time.

At around 1:15am, I decided to call it a night, and a weekend.

~ David Bailey, 1st June 2010

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