After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Milonga Con Traspié
The phenomenon of traspié ("tripping" in Castellano, also meaning an "error"-- but not in tango dancing) is relatively new in the history of milonga music, which even predates the tango. I don't know how traspié evolved, but I'm thankful it did because otherwise the 2 x 4 beat of milonga, with the basic left-right-left-right steps can be boring after a while.
Milonga is not danced as much as the tango--here in Buenos Aires or in other countries. I'm not sure why--in the U.S. lots of men are afraid of it, perhaps finding it fast and complicated. Here, many old milongueros don't have or want to expend the energy for a tanda (even though customarily the milonga tandas are only 3 songs instead of the 4 of tango and vals). Or perhaps some dancers just don't like the happy, basic march rhythm. Yes, in milonga you can let go with your hips, face, smile--it's fun!
I personally love it, and so does Ruben. But if it weren't for the traspié rhythm, I don't know how many tandas of milonga lisa (smooth) I would enjoy. Traspié saves the day.
It's not difficult to learn--traspié means two steps for every one beat of the music, or double-time. Yet dancers often are doing a kind of samba or cumbia with the double-time steps, or quick-quicks, way too fast. Just remember that two steps in traspié equals one step lisa, or one count. The milonga rhythm is 1-2-3-4, so in traspié, it might be 1-2-and-3-4-and. The quick-quicks are equal! Two for one!
Be careful to keep your torsos connected and still--no sideways movement of the shoulders ala Texas two-step tango! You can dance traspié sideways or walking forward or turning or running (corrida)--just like tango. The steps are the same, it's just the rhythm and timing that's different.
What is tricky is not dancing a whole milonga song in traspié; you have to go in and out of it to make it interesting and creative. But neither can you begin it in the middle of a phrase; you have to listen to the music and go in and out of it when the music tells you to. This is challenging to the leader. The best milongas for traspié are not too slow, believe it or not.
Put on some Canaro or Tanturi's Mozo Guapo and have some fun with milonga con traspié; next time a milonga tanda begins you won't want to sit it out.