Jul 15, 2021

In any good Tango school, you are continuously bombarded with the prompts to ‘lead’ and ‘connect’. That’s already mysterious enough, but what the pre-lead is?

Continuously pinging your Follower. Secrets of tango pre-lead.

You certainly heard of PING?

PING (or LATENCY) are the network delays in milliseconds [ms] when the data is sent between your computer and the Internet -

Ping is a method to measure the minimum time needed to send the smallest possible amount of data and receive a response. For ping tests are used ms units (1000 milliseconds = 1 second). Less is better, reasonable value is lower than 50ms.

Let’s reiterate tango way

Pre-lead is ALMOST like ping. It’s is the ability of the Leader to generate and send over the necessary amount of information to the Follower, receive the confirmation from her that she got it (or not), and based on that feedback move in the planned direction or modify it according to received feedback.

Less is better - the shorter the amount of time we need to reconfirm the understanding – the faster we can make our decisions and the more complicated movement we can execute together.

Secrets of communications

The communication in tango is not a ‘one-way’ communication. It is not – I tell you what to do and you do it. Everything is based on continuous feedback from both partners, which allows and clearly leads to improvisation – life-like. You planned for something, but something else happened and so you went with the float. Just like that.

To clarify let’s elaborate on what communication in Tango is not, or what is considered a ‘pretend’ or ‘fake’ communication.

Often when you go to the dance class you are taught leader’s steps, follower’s steps – and then repeat them together. That works as long as you are dancing exclusively with people that participated in the same class.

The situation changes drastically when you trying to tango with the person who is not in your class, not even in your school or imagine – she/he does not speak your language. How do you dance then?

Imagine a real-life scenario

Every day you go to your local coffee shop, you wave your hand and because they know you – after all you are stopping by every morning for the last 2 years - without you saying the word your almond-milk cappuccino with 2 spoons of brown sugar and today’s paper miraculously appear at your table. Try this trick at the cafe in, let’s say, London or Paris or wherever you are dreaming of going these days. That’s right. It DOES NOT work. You are back to point zero – conveying your wishes and preferences one by one. You might even be forced to modify and adjust – since they might not have almond milk or brown sugar.

It might go somewhere along these lines:

I would like coffee, please?
Black or with milk?
With milk.
Americano, cappuccino, Frappuccino?
Large or small?
What is large and what is small?
Large is this and small is that.
Large then, please.
Yes please. 2 cubes.
We do not have sugar cubes. The sugar is prepackaged.
Ok then – two packets.
White or brown?

And the conversation can go on for quite some time…
Of course, if you ever took a private lesson with Hernan, you are very familiar with the example…

Let’s translate into Tango.

(Remember that Tango conversation is telepathic and happens in a millisecond. Just like ping.)

LEADER: I would like to take a step.
FOLLOWER: Ok. With which leg?
FOLLOWER: Back, forward, or side?
FOLLOWER: Short or long?
FOLLOWER: Are we going to continue after that or would we stop or change direction?
LEADER: Change direction.
FOLLOWER: To the left or to the right? Back or forward?
LEADER: To the right. Backward, 90 degrees….

Now you ready, but when you about to move - the other couple just blocked your planned trajectory, and you have to start your process all over again.

The time issue

In Tango, even though the roles are called ‘Leader’ and ‘Follower’, the meaning behind is much deeper. The Leader becomes a creator who proposes the movement. The Follower becomes a Bard of Directors – who reviews and approves the movement for execution.

Because we work on Tango as we work on our second language – we go through many phases. First, we just want to get by, understand, and be understood. But eventually, we can start making jokes, insert puns, or use allegories and still – be understood.

 The first stage is acknowledging that you do have a body and you are insight it. In fact, you can dominate your body and make it do what you want. All those are primary functionalities that everyone is born with – balance, coordination search for perfection, the joy of being able to move. Once we are able to accept that we are the one still in control – the logistics of nuances kick in and we are hooked. Remember your first lesson when you told me you have two left feet, and you cannot hear the music. You stated it pretty confidently, but at the end of the day – it was a lie that you had to dismantle. Leaders’ life is not easy. Which shall not stop you from becoming one. Excellent one.


The sooner you submit your proposal and, in more detail, – the sooner it gets queued for review. The sooner you get your approval, the sooner you can move into the execution phase. Ping!

The couple does not really move as a unit. It moves as a union. The leg of one partner has to move a split second before the other partner’s leg can take that very space. That creates another precedence: The leader cannot execute his own movement at the same time as he is leading the Follower’s movement. Because of the delay in communication. Because of the request-approval-execution. Because of the… ping.

Because of all that the lead has to lead… the future. That ‘leading for the future’ is a mystery pre-lead.

The Followers love Leaders who can pre-lead the movement. At the higher levels, the Follower gets to not only understand this theory but to actually empirically experience it. Once found – the sensation can never be forgotten and is continuously searched for.

It is the sensation of the pre-lead that allows the Follower to focus on herself – on beautifully executing the movement to make herself and the whole couple shine, on musicality, on timing, and on adornos.

The tango is the language. Take your tango shoes with you wherever you go. Speak it. Speak Tango.

START PINGING THE RIGHT WAY. Learn all about the lead directly from Hernan Brizuela:

If you wish to learn Argentine Tango, we put our methodology in the book. You can reserve yours HERE.

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