We’re referring to musicality here. This is a term that came up almost by accident as we were discussing with some friends the “musicality” most often seen on the dance floor. Our friend referred to this musicality by saying, “Taka taka taka tak tak.” To which we replied, “Oh, you mean Morse Code Tango?”
This can be more appropriately named “S.O.S Tango”. This is most often seen in the American/alternative versions of Tango and Nuevo Tango. There are some who do it better and Chicho is an obvious example. What makes him different is his continuous movement with his body… However, his feet still dance S.O.S. style. It’s one-dimensional musicality that “anyone” can do if they know a song inside-out and have a decent tango movement vocabulary. No, we’re not saying that person will be the best at it, but there’s a reason you see far more of these dancers than those who (can) actually interpret the music and continue to dance through each step. It is much easier to dance the music literally.
This is a difficult concept to explain (or even show) to people, especially those who do not understand music and/or dance at some level. We can only point out that if the steps are arriving early or at the beginning of the beat and arriving on the beat “dead” (the step “ends” there – sort of like a wedding march), there’s a good chance the dancing is S.O.S. style. Continuous movement through the walk, for example, is not S.O.S. style. Movement INVITES movement – lack of movement or movement that is jerky/cutting kills the movement. Furthermore, S.O.S. musicality often relies on a “lunging” walk where the leader waits until the last minute to “lunge” forward (also arriving dead on the beat).
We shared some interesting back-and-forth comments with En La Milonga regarding musicality. There was some difficulty explaining the difference between the musicality found in Nuevo and that found in Argentine Tango. She states that, “It’s in Villa Urquiza in the 40′s that appeared for the first time the pause and the slight movement between steps.” This is very fascinating and informative (thank you!), however, we are not speaking of the pauses. We are talking about the dancing or movement that occurs in between each step. We see a HUGE difference between the musicality of Nuevo dancers and Argentine Tango dancers (regardless of “style” – as long as it’s traditional).
As well, it is going to be very difficult for people who dance to non-traditional Tango music to learn how to get inside the complex (traditional) music. And why are people dancing Argentine Tango to non-Argentine music anyway? This is no different than dancing a Cha Cha to a Quick Step or a Jive to a Tango… You might be able to get your steps into that foreign music, but you are not dancing Cha Cha or Jive anymore. And let’s not forget that tango is a culture – not just a dance. You’ve removed one of the biggest parts of Tango when you dance to something other than Tango music.