Learning How to Tango

Learning How to Tango

One of the most fascinating of all dances, the tango is a sensual ballroom dance that originated in South America in the early twentieth century. Tango is usually performed by a man and a woman, expressing an element of romance in their synchronized movements. Originally, the tango was performed only by women, but once it spread into Argentina, it developed into a dance for couples. The popularity of the tango has greatly increased over the years. Argentine Tango is much more intimate than Modern Tango, and is well-suited to dancing in small settings. Argentine Tango retains the intimacy of the original dance.

Tango Styles

Several different styles of tango exist, each with its own individual flair. Most of the styles are danced in either open embrace, with the couple having space between their bodies, or in close embrace, where the couple is closely connected at either the chest or the hip area. Many people are familiar with “ballroom tango,” characterized by strong, dramatic head snaps.

Tango Techniques

Tango is danced to a repetitive style of music. The count of the music is either 16 or 32 beats. While dancing the tango, the lady is held in the crook of the man’s arm. She holds her head back and rests her right hand on the man’s lower hip. The man must allow the lady to rest in this position while leading her around the floor in a curving pattern. Tango dancers must strive to make a strong connection with the music as well as their audience.

Learning How to Tango

If you are interested in learning how to tango, look for a class in dance studios in your area. Tango classes are lots of fun, and newcomers tend to pick up the dance quickly. If you would rather learn at home, several videos are available for purchase online. If you decide to learn by video, try to take at least a few classes when you feel confident enough…nothing can take the place of live, hands-on instruction.

Tango History

Early tango styles greatly influenced the ways in which we dance today. Tango music has become one of the greatest of all music genres throughout the world. Spanish settlers were the first to introduce the tango to the New World. Ballroom tango originated in working-class Buenos Aires. The dance spread quickly through Europe during the 1900’s, then moved on into the United States. Tango began gaining popularity in New York around 1910.

Tango Popularity

Tango has become very popular in recent years, as evident by the various movies developed around the dance. Several films showcase the tango, such as Scent of a Woman, Take the Lead, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, True Lies, Shall We Dance, and Frida.

Tango Dancers in Streets of San Miguel De Allende

Tango Dancers in Streets of San Miguel De Allende

The history of Tango Dance is based on many years of study and research in Buenos Aires. The subject is a huge one, and the great dancers, those who were genuinely part of the living culture of Tango, have tended not to have academic backgrounds, while the academics in Argentina have tended to neglect the dance, concentrating instead on the music. There are many gaps in our understanding of Tango’s history, particularly the history of the Dance, that might never be fully filled.

If I talk about the history of Tango Dance, I need to divide it into four periods. First there are the things that I have seen myself. I first went to Buenos Aires in 1993, ten years after the Tango Renaissance began. I will tell you as accurately as I can about the things that I have seen.

In my research I have spoken to many people who were living witnesses to the story of Tango. I have spent a great deal of time listening to great dancers, getting to know them, and trying to get to the full picture behind the individual stories. I can take this second period back to about 1940, practically to the beginning of the Golden Age of Tango Dance.

Before that is the period for which we have some kind of evidence – sound recordings, photographs, film clips and contemporary accounts. I shall try to pick my way through the evidence I have found to give the important facts about Tango History.

And before that is the pre-history of Tango Dance. This is the period when the contemporary evidence is practically non-existent. Our understanding is based on later commentators. I will present the few facts that we have, and do my best to interpret what little evidence there is. No one will ever know the full story of how Tango began. All anyone can do is give you his or her best guess.