Monday, October 29, 2012

Tango Class Notes: Lesson 5

As is fairly characteristic of Argentine Tango courses, we're down to about 50% of our initial attendance, though we're hopeful that more students will bounce back into the fold as we keep covering the basics.

tango-class-1Nonetheless, we had a fun - if somewhat unusually challenging class tonight; starting with review of the forward and back ochos, interchanging between ochos and reiterating a partnered ocho exercise with a few new refinements.

Taking the class up a notch - we built on the concept of keeping the free leg truly free and supple for the full duration of the pivot-step phase of the ocho.

With this everyone had to try inverting their ocho with extra torsion, to experience a few of the dynamics behind generating boleos (whips) to play with at the practica.

...... While I won't exactly nail up a disclaimer about not trying this at home - I should point out that it was mostly food-for-thought.

Our class plan for the day proved to be slightly ambitious, since we only arrived at the main theme for the day - giros (turns) - most of the way through the hour. 

We jumped straight into molinette (a move where the follow turns around a leader with ocho-like pivots while he remains in one place) without really warming up.

In theory, it then should've started dawning on everyone how the same mechanics, movement and feeling from steps learned before - simply transposed and reconfigured - could at least outline how to do the basic for another step - in this case molinette - without much premeditation (or otherwise reinventing the wheel).

We also played with the polarity of the lead-follow relationship during turns by having them alternatie "pulling" (with torsion) or "pushing" more to drive the sequence - exagerrating to help everyone find that sweet spot where both partners are present in the moment and participating equally and purposefully in the dance. 

At first we made it easy on the guys by allowing them to practise molinette by focussing purely on the connection, embrace and the lead - shuffling their feet in whatever way. 

But then we had them try crossing their legs and unwinding to pivot in place while still leading the giros - proving how difficult upper and lower body co-ordination can be at the same time as paving step-by-step for one's partner and remaining stable.

Moving Forward

Everyone's learning so fast.

With just a few more tricks to add to the toolbox, we're almost through the complete beginners syllabus - but the best is yet to come!

However uncomfortable the idea may be at first - I would like to encourage everyone to think about entering the social dance scene to get more hours or practise under their socks - get a feel for what the community is like and to try the same steps with complete strangers. 

To help with this, we're hosting our own monthly milonga right here in Corvallis this Sunday. If you're in town there's just no better or more conveniet opportunity to give it a try.

As for next week, the sixth class in our free 8-week Tango lesson series will take place on the 5th of November.

We'll meet at the OSU Women's Building - in room 205 from 7-8 pm, with an open dance session from 8-8:45.


Milonga in Corvallis this Sunday

Save the date! We're hosting a free, open-to-all social Tango dance at our home in Corvallis on Sunday the 4th of November.

It's a great chance for beginners to come hone your basics in a comfortable and friendly environment, with a few more experienced tangueros around to show you the ropes.

There will be an intro level Tango lesson from 6:30 - 7:00 PM.

A mix of traditional and nuevo music will be playing from 7:00 - 9:00 PM, and alternative / fusion tango (Blues appropriate) music from 9:00 - 10:00 PM.

If you'd like to join us for the evening, please visit our OSU Tango Facebook page and contact us directly for the address.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Free Tango Lesson Series: Class Five Monday Night

We'll be putting everyone's pivoting prowess to the test for a session of turns, corkscrews and surprising twists that might make you dizzy.

As per usual we will be meeting at room 205 in the Women's building on the Oregon State University campus from 7-8PM for the free introductory-level Argentine Tango lesson, followed by a 45 minute open practise session.

All levels of Tango dancers are welcome - but please do keep in mind that the lessons are structured for complete beginners.

See you there! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Milongas Near Corvallis

Does it take two zombies to tango?

If you mounted a broomstick; could you still ocho like the Wicked Witch of the West?

It's that time of year where dancers everywhere refrain from the hum-drum of the living world and ponder such very significant issues.

For, the pumpkins are out, the air is crisp, the nights are darker and the wind is howling. 

With Halloween night sidling up on us, we've gazed deeply into our crystal ball for omens of malefic milongas on our doorstep:

Halloween 2012 at Norse

Save the Date October 31st!

When: Wednesday, October 31st

Where: Norse Hall,111 NE 11th Av, Portland

They'll have dancing, live music, costume prizes and oh so many more tricks and treats for all!

A Bailonga with Boo

It's official - Everyone's wearing costumes at the Bailonga next week. 

Come dressed up! Maybe there may even be some Halloween themed delicacies.

It's time to Tango on creaky hardwood floors and socialize in shadowy rooms, while nibbling the night away and wearing a costume that shows off your dark side,  listen to creepy cortinas and be very afraid!

Don't miss either of these opportunities to dance like the undead!

Argentine Tango Events in Oregon

The Argentine Tango scene in Oregon State is vibrant and diverse, with loads of local milongas, classes and festivals on offer all year round. 

Corvallis Tango

  • Mondays: Weekly Argentine Tango lesson from 7-8PM, practica from 8- 8:45PM
Location: Women’s building, room 205, Oregon State University

Cost: Free

Contact: wikus dot engelbrecht at gmail dot com
  • Monthly: 2nd Sunday’ Milonga (except November’s will be on the 1st Sunday), lesson from 6:30- 7PM followed by traditional and Nuevo music from 7-9PM, fusion and alternative music from 9-10PM
Location: Dedra’s house in North-Western Corvallis (please ask for the address)

Cost: $2

Contact: dedra dot demaree at gmail dot com
Note: Peter also teaches tango in Corvallis, weekly on Tuesday nights one night per week at $5 per class.

Contact: peter at gysegem dot com

argentine-tango-newport-oregon Newport Tango
Location: South Beach Community Center, 3024 S.E. Ferry Slip Road

Cost: Free but donations to cover the cost of venue rental is appreciated

Contact: rafael at newportoregontango dot com


Eugene Tango
  • Tuesdays: Bailonga  with lesson 88:30PM and milonga from 8:30-11PM.  Alternative and Nuevo Tango music is DJ'd, often with live musicians
Location: Upstairs at the Vet's Club (16th and Willamette)

Cost: $4-$8 sliding scale
  • Tuesdays: UO Tango Buzz Milonguita, 6PM-8PM
Location: The Buzz Cafe, ERB Union

Cost: Free
  • Wednesdays: Tango Practica, from 8PM-10PM
Location: Knights of Pythias Hall, 420 W 12th Ave 

Cost: $5
  • Wednesdays: Alternative Music Hour from 7PM-8PM
Location: Studio B, 189 W. 8th Ave
Cost: $2
  • 2nd & 4th Thursdays: Milonga Loca & Milonga Bruja from 8PM-10PM
Location: Davis Restruant, 94 W. Broadway

Cost: $5.00 

Contact: Mrizik at aol dot com
  • 1st Saturdays: Milonga de la Luna Azul from 9PM - 12AM
Location: Kipsters Gymnastics Dance and Fitness 475 W. 5th Ave 

Cost: $8 Community, $4 Students

  • 2nd & 4th Saturdays: Milonga Brava from 9PM - 12AM
Location: Kipsters Gymnastics Dance and Fitness 475 W. 5th Ave

Cost: $5 (Students) $8 (Community)

  • Sundays: La Milonguita dancing and practising from 5-7PM
Traditional music DJ'd by Marisela
Location: The Reach Center 2520 Harris St.

Cost: $5
A more detailed summary of Argentine Tango events in Eugene is available here

Bend Tango
Drop-in class for absolute veginners from 7:30 - 8:30PM. Milonga with lively and timeless tango music from 8:30 - 10:30PM

Location: 224 NW Oregon Ave

Cost: $7 

Contact: bendtango at gmail dot com

Ashland Tango

The town of Ashland in Southern Oregon has an active dance scene and hosts an annual mid-November Tango festival too. 

Click here for more information on weekly milongas and classes available in the area. 

argentine-tango-portland-oregonPortland Tango

The city of Portland is a highly promiment Tango destination,  not only in view of  the West coast, but also the United States as a whole. 

Regular events on offer, including practicas, classes and milongas on offer amount to round about twenty per week - not counting special or impromptu occasions.

This includes, 5 Sunday events, 1 Monday event, 2 Tuesday events, 2 Wednesday events, 3 Thursday events, 2 Friday events, 5 Saturday events as well as the magnificent TangoFest in October and Valentango in February - a real Tango-lover's heaven!

The specifics are far too numerous to list here, so for futher details please visit the Portland Tango page. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Connect 2012 Ashland Tango Festival - on the horizon

​Argentine Tango is all about connection and all about the music. 

But how often do we focus on just that? It's so easy to be distracted and warped by the hope that more steps and more technique will be what makes the difference; instead of tapping in to what gets us closer to the magic, that effortless feeling of union and flow, where the dance is dancing us.

At just a month away
- running from 23 to 25 November - the annual Ashland Tango Festival is slated to be an event where the  focus of every workshop is connection and musicality.

Their mission is to invite connections. Connection to yourself, to your partner, the music, and maybe the Tango gods. The organizers believe that the feeling of connecting to one's partner can best be nurtured with heartfelt exploration and an inspired environment.

The 2012 Connect Ashland Tango Festival features top notch instruction and music from:
  • Felipe Martinez
  • Jenna Rohrbacher
  • Momo Smitt
  • Alex Plakantonakis
  • Kenny Bell
  • Samarra Burnett
  • Noah Brenner
  • and Genevieve Andreassen

Registration is limited to 75 leads and 75 follows to create a balanced and intimate learning and social dancing experience.

The full pass at an earlybird price of $70 will give you access 5 Workshops, 7 Milongas and 2 Yoga for Tango classes.

Can you think of a better way to spend your Thanksgiving weekend this year?!

Dedra and I will be going for sure, so to make the trip more affordable there will be ride-sharing available for any OSU Argentine Tango club members who are interested.

Tango Class Notes: Lesson 4

Class attendance took slight knock this week as OSU students continue wading through their midterm exams. 

Those who came to previous lessons in the series had an easy start since we let them practice leading the cruzada (cross) from either the paso basico (basic step) or the more challenging cortado (cut) lead from the ribotte (rebound).

We then let everyone choose the method for crossing that they felt most confident about, using it as a foundation for introducing the ocho adelante (forward figure-of-eight) - which is a tricky sequence of stepping and pivoting in symphony with the dissociation of the upper body, demanding good control of the embrace to keep the axis from disintegraing.

As would be expected, things got off to a wobbly start; so we threw in one partnered and one solo technical exercise for exploring balance and connection to the floor, to ensure stable pivots and to encourage torsion-based turns instead of just powering through with the bicep - that's right folks; dancing Tango ain't weight lifting!

With the help of these finer points, from what we saw everyone was able to produce a much smoother and balanced forward ocho on the next try.   

tango-class-3For section two of the class we rapidly paddled through parallel vs. the cross system; trying out a few different ways to change weight either as a pair through a simple shift of posture and the frame of the abrazo (embrace).

This was followed by practicing a change of weight in conjunction with the apertura (side step) which flowed into the ocho atras (backward ocho) the mechanical mirror image of the ocho adelante.

We wrapped up class having just scratched the surface of the ochos and demonstrated a couple of variants - such as changing the size and distance travelled with each ocho and interchanging between front and back ochos - just to add flavor for everyone’s creative play in the practica.  

tango-class-3 Moving Forward

There are a few more essentials yet to do before we can end the series with some flash - but right now it’s important that students practice those ochos  since they can be infinitely modified and are such a progress-critical element of Argentine Tango.

The fifth class in our free 8-week Tango lesson series will take place on the 29th of October.

We'll meet at the OSU Women's Building as usual - in room 205 from 7-8 pm, with an open dance session from 8-8:45.

See you there!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Free Tango Lesson Series: Class Four Tonight

We're now at week four of our first Argentine Tango complete beginners series - exactly halfway through the eight-part course.

Tonight we're going to work on a move that is very versatile and fundamental to Tango, quite fun as a beginner and that can be a major point of improvement at any stage of dancing. 

We'll be meeting this evening at room 205 in the Women's building on the OSU campus from 7-8PM for the free introductory-level Argentine Tango lesson, followed by a 45 minute open practise session.

All levels of Tango dancers are welcome - but please do keep in mind that we are specifically presenting content to cater for newcomers and help introduce new folks to the beauty of Argentine Tango and to the local community. 

See you there! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Night At The 'Bailonga'


For those of you who are completely new to the Tango scene, we'll be introducing some of the regular events in North-Western Oregon as time goes by.

Since Dedra and I were in downtown Eugene last night, we'll start by showcasing the weekly 'Bailonga' that's hosted there every Tuesday evening:

From 8-8:30PM there's a group lesson with rotating instructors (last night's was with local virtuoso Noah Brenner).

Open dancing runs from 8:30 - 11:00PM, with a mix of traditional Tango and alternative DJ-ing (although it's primarily an alternative milonga) and often with live musical performances.

Cost of admission is $4-8 (sliding scale) and all of their profits go to the DJ's, teachers, and live musicians as a way of supporting the local music community.

Location: Upstairs at the Vet's Club (1626 Willamette) Eugene.

It has an excellent floor for dancing and this is very much a beginner-friendly event.

If you still have to take the plunge and go to your first milonga; we highly recommend this event; and we'd be happy to help organize carpooling for anyone at the OSU Tango Club

See you at the next Bailonga!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tango Class Notes: Lesson 3

With our status finally confirmed as the official OSU Tango club today and reservations settled for room 205, the third lesson in our beginners series could proceed smoothly, as planned. 

Tonight we gunned at having the students complete the paso basico sequence that they began learning in the second class. Once again, leading and following the cruzada (cross)  is no small feat when first studying Argentine Tango - but a real must when learning this fundamental  and versatile figure. 

An easy resolution for moving out of the cross was practiced, which simply involved the followers changing weight and the leaders stepping forward and to the side before closing their feet. 

Of course, we then just had to throw everyone a curve-ball by adding a ribotte (rebound) and a cortado (a step 'cut' for changing timing or direction)  then leading the cross by firing the back-torqued hip forward in unison with the embrace - to align parrallel to the follow.

This was a risky comfort zone-breaking exercise, since most of the students are complete beginners.

With that said, it was worthwhile as a case-in-point example to make everyone aware of the fact that due to the improvizational nature of the dance and the vastness of its mechanical possibilities; there are very few true "rules" in Argentine Tango - and once you work up the necessary control, the way that any step can be done is limited only to one's imagination. 

Plans for next week

The fouth class in our free 8-week Tango lesson series will take place on the 22nd of October.

We'll meet at the OSU Women's Building as usual - in room 205 from 7-8 pm, with an open dance session from 8-8:45

Keep practising and see you there!

2012 Portland TangoFest Roundup

Despite the lip-biting price tag, our thrill-filled weekend spent at arguably the greatest Tango fest in the West certainly didn’t disappoint! 

Our 12-hour day of dancing, dancing and more dancing on the 13th foamed with fresh insights and energy to help push our Tango to the next level. 

First up was a class on elegant and effective figures in the milonguero style, by star Argentinian couple Hernan Prieto & Daniela Roig.

They had us practice ribottes (rebounds) cortados (cuts) enrosques (corkscrews) along with quick pizzicato steps and toe-tapping embellishments from the paso basico.

The importance of keeping an ideal connection in the embrace by dissociating to just the right amount when a moving next to one’s partner was emphasized throughout - a tricky principle to apply for many of us who experienced spinning out of control under the torque of their poise-perfect turns. 

Next was the funky pair of Nick Jones & Diana Cruz with their lesson on expression with the free leg, boleos (leg whips) and adornments.

After a brief but thigh-wobbling Tango work-out they built us up to an electric step combination with both leaders and followers lashing heels up in the air for equal-opportunity high boleos, followed by a mezze of pasadas (a kind of footwork)  and rulos (toe-circling decorations).

This particular puzzle of twirls, flicks and reversals posed a near-cringing level of difficulty to everyone; and an overabundance of follows in the class meant that certain leaders had to man-up and volunteer for the burden of servicing multiple partners at once.

Note#1 The life of a serious Tango dancer is filled with many challenges and sacrifices such as this!  

Note#2 What happens at TangoFest stays at TangoFest. 

Watch this video for a lesson review by Nick & Diana to see what we learned.

Since tango festivals everywhere are universal hot-zones of irresponsible splurging on flashy dance shoes and seductive skirts, we spent some time perusing the tempting selection on display; cursing the heavens for not having arrived with much fuller wallets.

We then split off to attend our respective classes of Instructor Training with international legends Homer & Christina Ladas (the latter of which this tanguero had the pleasure of dancing with), and on DJ-ing for alternative milongas.

As darkness fell we got footloose at the free milonga (meant as a graduation party for beginners who had just had their first Tango bootcamp) which ended at 10PM.  The night was still young and we braved our way through the thick of the crowd into the main hall for big-bang event of the festival - the Grande Ball with The Alex Krebs Orchestra on stage. 


No fewer than 500 dancers graced the floor until the hour of 2AM, making for thoroughly economically-sized Tangoing as mere millimeters separated couple from couple and every leader in the house was all-systems-go on collision prevention.


After watching a number of scintillating teacher performances that set the room on fire, we headed for home; having had the Tango of our lives - or at least somewhere close to it.  

Did you make it to the Portland TangoFest too? Which parts of it did you attend and what was your own experience like?  

Free Tango Lesson Series: Class Three Tonight

We're already at week three of our first Argentine Tango complete beginners series - almost halfway through the eight-part course.

Here's some great news for current members and for anyone interested in trying their hand at Tango! ...

Our club executives have confirmed that the Tango Club at OSU is now official - which means that room 205 at the Women's Building on Campus has been reserved for us solidly on Mondays, from October 15 to November 26.

We'll be meeting every week from 7-8PM for a free introductory-level Argentine Tango lesson, followed by a 45 minute open practise session.

Come join us this evening, where we'll be back onto basics, sprinkled with just a little TangoFest spice.

See you there! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tango Styles Around The World

"There is no one tango; there are infinite number of tangos" - Pablo Verón, renowned Argentine Tango master

There are a variety of distinct styles of Argentine Tango that are widely recognized, drawn from and taught today. 

To help you get an idea of these, just take a look at the following performances by top dancers that demonstrate the nuances of some of the most common types, which are; Milonguero, Salon and Nuevo Tango - each with their own unique texture, feeling and musicality. 

Argentine Tango Styles

Milonguero Tango - by Oscar and Mary Ann Casas


Salon Tango - by Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa

Nuevo Tango - by Barbara Carpino and Claudio Forte


While you will notice some overlap between them, all of these have their own flavor that may or may not appeal to you. Keep in mind though that these are merely stylistic examples - they are not strictly codified into inviolate formulas or patterns, and the people who practice these are not limited or locked into a single approach to the Tango.

Here are some rough summaries for each of the styles shown above:

Milonguero Tango

Also known as estilo milonguero or apilado (piled up, stacked), is a close-embrace style of social tango dancing in which the focus is inward on the more subtle, pervasive sensations of the dance - with the leg, foot, arm movements and embellishments kept characteristically small.

The term "Milonguero Tango" was coined to describe the kind of inwardly focused tango dancing that was practiced by veteran dancers in the social dance venues of central Buenos Aires, differentiating it from the more pronounced movements of outer Buenos Aires and especially to separate it from choreographed performance tango.

It goes without say that this style is appropriate for crowded dance floors. 

Salon Tango

This is literally Tango as it is danced socially in the salons (large dance halls) of Buenos Aires. Salon tango was danced throughout the Golden Era of Argentine Tango (1935-1952) when milongas were hosted in spacious dance venues along with orchestral performances.

The emphasis is on precision, fluidity, good navigation, and following the códigos (tango etiquette) of the salons. The couple embraces closely (with some variants having a flexible embrace) opening slightly to make room for various figures, noticeably more pronounced than milonguero tango movements,  and closing again for poise, support and effect.

Nuevo Tango

Tango Nuevo (also Neotango or simply Nuevo) - has become an accepted term by many as a separate and distinct style; an evolution of tango dance that began to develop in the 1980s, typically associated with music in which modern sound elements are incorporated into traditional scores.

Neotango includes many ad-lib dance steps, characterized not only by the type of embrace and atypical off-axis moves - but by playfulness, attention to rhythm and melody and emphasis on greater improvisational skill.

Argentine Tango today

While each dancer is free to shape and color their tango as they please once they’ve grasped the fundamentals; bear in mind that whatever style or sub-style you choose to study and incorporate into your repertoire - when you dance socially, the goal is ultimately to share an enjoyable experience with your partner and the other dancers in the room - while expressing your personal interpretation, spontaneously to the music.

Other mainstream Argentine Tango cocktails not discussed here include; Milonga, Tango Vals, Nuevo Salon, Milonguero Nuevo, Show Tango and Fusion Tango.......... but in the end, there are as many ways to Tango as there are Tangueros.   

Not to be confused with Argentinian Tango, some of its European and North-Western descendants, like Ballroom Tango, American Tango, International Tango and Finnish Tango (all of which have grown to be quite different from their parent) can be found out roaming dance halls and schools everywhere …… but those are completely different creatures.