…make your own!
Attention Tango leaders, male or female!
At right is a tango leader practicing her crossed-system corrida on the open side of the frame, but with zero risk of annoying her follower partner with any “beginner uglies” that may be present in the encounter – because her partner is a pair of Tango Sticks!(a.k.a. “the partner that never complains”).
For a leader trying to train his/her brain cells and muscle memory with the sensations of dancing someone else’s legs around the line of dance, annoying their practice partners is a real risk. It can be relatively unsatisfying for followers to be the “crash test dummy” for their leaders in this situation. However, our experience has shown that a very significant fraction of the leader’s learning curve is better invested in dancing Tango Sticks around the floor in various tango-like figures. Trust us – this can save you a lot of time and partner frustration!
I first used Tango Sticks in 1997 at the recommendation of Daniel Trenner. He directed me to this video of Argentine maestro Pocho Pizzarro giving a performance in Buenos Aires with a couple of brooms.I started playing with my first sticks intending to spend a few minutes getting used to switching walking systems, and ended up with almost three consecutive hours of focused discovery – I was learning a lot, and I wasn’t pissing anyone off! But don’t try this on a carpeted floor (my mistake that first time) – I learned a lot, but my knees paid the price the next day!
In the years since, we’ve developed several generations of tango stick construction. You can indulge your own preferences of course, but we’ve been pretty happy with what we use now. Here’s the specifications of the current Mark IV model :
|Bike Grips ($7 – $15)|
Two 7/8″ wooden dowels, 4ft long ($4 ea)
A pair of bicycle grips of your choice
Two 3/4″ rubber carpet protectors ($2)
|3/4″ Carpet Protectors|
Some liquid soap
Directions (3-4 minutes):
1) Put the 3/4″ carpet protectors on the end away from any ugly difficult-to-remove SKU retail stickers (which are hopefully near one end, and can be covered up by the bicycle grips). They will stretch slightly and stay in place.
2) Rub a little liquid soap up inside the bike grips, and smear some along the other ends of the sticks (especially covering thos SKU sitckers, if present). Try to cover 4″-6″ of the handle end of the sticks with a soap film.
3) Slide the bike grips over the soaped-up stick ends. If the bike grips have open ends, align as needed. Wipe off any accessible excess soap.
4) Start dancing! Try smoothly transitioning between parallel and crossed systems, executing walks to the cross (a.k.a. La Cruzada), or molinete turns. More advanced dancers may want to attempt ocho cortados, back sacadas, or whatever your heart desires. It’s very useful to make sure you can keep the sticks stepping in time with the music. Trust me, you WILL suck at this for a minute or two. But your increasing skills at willing those carpet protectors (a.k.a. “follower’s feet”) down onto the floor exactly on the beat will translate into a way of leading that your followers will find very musically satisfying.
If you don’t want to make your own, we’ll sell you some at cost, which will vary depending on the bike grips you want and other minor variations in costs of materials. We usually have a pair or two with us at group lessons.