Sunday 16 May 2010


A lot of experienced leaders have diagnostics they run to find out what the woman can deliver if they haven't danced with her before. They're all things that won't be noticed if they don't work too well, but give you a lot of information.

There must be lots I'm not aware of at all. But here are the ones I think I know about:

Different stride lengths.
Anything involving a forward step for the follower.
Especially a step right into the leader.
Tiny, slo-o-o-w step.
Pause between steps with feet apart. Hesitations.
Slo-o-o-w cross.
Small boleo in a safe place, just to see what happens.
Turn-and-block without the following step-over that most people expect the woman to do with no lead and despite the blocking. Reverse it and do something else ...

Ampster on dialling in.
Mari on un tal Gavito - diagnostics before doing a back sacada.


ghost said...

Different dance, but a lot of crossover

Though as the lovely LMC replied

Bloody hell, and I get told *I* think too much :S

It depends on the music.
It depends on the partner.

Sometimes, only one of these things matters. Sometimes neither matter.

I'm a woman, I'm inconsistent, so sue me.

Anonymous said...

This is a controversial one. If a follower isn't wearing tango shoes then it's usually a good sign she's not particularly good.

There is some rationale here - you can't move efficiently doing tango movements if you're wearing certain footwear and if the follower hasn't figured that out yet then they're probably not there yet overall.

Must admit, although I try to dance with new people at every milonga, this does guide me. Other leaders concur.

Anonymous said...

can you lead her to change her weight on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Great post Ms. H. Add change of direction on a pivot.

Anonymous said...

realising that your partner is running that check list is utterly offputting

PS dialing in is a different matter

ghost said...

@Anon "realising that your partner is running that check list is utterly offputting"

My thinking, which thankfully worked, was that by repeatedly doing it consciously I would eventually get to the point where I'd be able to do it without thinking. Then I can just dance from the get-go while my subconcious takes care of dialing in. At that point it becomes a feeling that deepens rather than a mental checklist.

Anonymous said...

those are two different things, - dialing in and running a check list.
I was talking about the latter, obviously.

msHedgehog said...

To clarify, I don't remember ever thinking that anyone had 'used,' if that is the right word, more than one of these in the same dance. I don't know of anyone who actually runs a checklist. But there are lots of things that may or may not work, and sometimes you can tell that poeple didn't know they were going to work.

David Bailey said...

@ anonymous:
"can you lead her to change her weight on the spot."
- yes, that's my main one too.

In fact, that's almost my only diagnostic. Almost everything else, I can fix or work around. But if I can't lead her to change weight, it becomes a real challenge.

David Bailey said...

Also, based on my experience in MJ and salsa, a good enough leader is someone who does this checklist and adjusts his dance style, usually within at most 3-4 seconds of starting to dance.

Sometimes you can do this before starting to dance, just by observing her walk.

ghost said...

@Anon and MsH

Ok now I'm confused...

Maybe I've misunderstood Ampster's and Mari's post.

What's the difference between "dialing in" and "running a check list"?

"The dialing in begins.

Does she go long, or go short? Do her steps feel choppy or smooth? Does she feel heavy or light? Does she follow what's led, or does she misread the lead?"

~ Ampster

"This lets him know where she is, and if she's waiting for him, or taking her step ahead of his. If she consistently pulls ahead and doesn't wait, the leader knows not to go ahead with the back sacada." ~ Mari