Argentine tango is a dance that will change your ideas about life, about relationships, about music and about creativity. You will learn to listen to your thoughts, guess the mood of your partner and literally transfer yourself to another dimension, stepping on the floor in dancing shoes.
Many people dream of learning to dance tango, but very often they give up their dream halfway through, doubting their abilities, age or build. But we declare with confidence that absolutely everyone can dance tango, regardless of age, height and shape. The main thing is your desire!
Argentine tango has excited dancers for over 100 years. Tango is loved by dancers and audiences for its beauty, passion, drama and excitement.
Learning how to dance social tango is based on improvising the movements and respecting your partner and other dancers on the floor. The essence of Argentine tango in life and especially in the relationship between a man and a woman. Graciela Gonzales, a leading tango teacher, calls the dance "a three-minute love story."
This guide offers a quick overview of the history of tango, what to expect in class, the different types of tango dancing at parties, music, and tango etiquette. Also included are helpful terms, a beginner checklist, and some helpful links.
Tango. Valse "Desde el Alma".
Dmitry Vasin and Esmer Omerova
Showdance Argentine Tango.
Dmitriy Vasin - Esmer Omerova.
Sigrid and Murat, dancing waltz, Lausanne 2015
Juan Alba & Mariana Soler, tango
Dmitry Vasin - Esmer Omerova "Duerme Mi Amor", Milonga "El Color", 11.05.2013, Moscow
Taisiya Finenkova and Dmitry Vasin, 2012
Juan Alba & Mariana Soler - Milonga
Tango. Julian Sanchez and Melina Mourinho
Tango spread from African communities in Buenos Aires based on ancient African dance forms. The word tango is also of African origin, applied to music resulting from the synthesis of various forms of music from Europe, Africa and America. Jorge Luis Borges in El idioma de los argentinos writes: "Tango belongs to La Plata and is the 'son' of the Uruguayan milonga and the 'grandson' of the Habanera. The word tango seems to have been used for the first time in reference to dancing in the 1890s. Initially, this dance was just one of many, but soon it became popular throughout society.
In the early years of the twentieth century, dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires and Montevideo traveled to Europe, and the first European tango show took place in Paris, and shortly thereafter in London, Berlin and other capitals. By the end of 1913, the dance reached New York, USA and Finland. In the USA in 1911, the name "Tango" was often used for dancing to a 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm "one step". Sometimes tango was performed at a fairly fast pace. During this period it was sometimes referred to as "North American Tango" in comparison to "Rio de la Plata Tango". By 1914, authentic styles of tango were more common, as well as some variations like Albert Newman's Minuet Tango.
Despite the Great Depression, the period 1930-1950 was the "golden age" of tango. Many ensembles were created, which included outstanding composers and tango performers who have become classics of the style today: Annibal Troyo, Osvaldo Pugliese, Astor Piazzola and many others.
The tango renaissance began in 1983 with the opening of the Forever Tango show in New York. These shows revolutionized the world and people everywhere started taking tango lessons.
FUNDAMENTALS OF ARGENTINO TANGO
Argentine tango is an improvisational dance built of four elements: steps, turns, stops and decorations. The dance is like a mosaic, which is formed differently each time. Women and men bring their own styles and decorations to dance, which greatly contribute to an exhilarating and unpredictable experience. Even though dancers follow certain conventions, they never know exactly how the dance will be structured, embellished or interpreted. The surprises in dancing are what makes dancing so exciting. It really gets the two involved in tango because the dance is not only about the man leading and the woman following. Both partners have a lot to contribute - just like in a good conversation.
Tango is danced counterclockwise, just like in races. The dancers try to stay on the outer edges of the hall, away from the center. If you look at the tango dance floor from above, you will see the dancers move like a descending river, flowing smoothly and sometimes stopping to spin in a shallow vortex.
Is Argentine tango the same as ballroom tango?
Not. They have common roots, but the place, the time and the nature of the development of the dance has separated them. International ballroom tango is very different from social tango in Argentina. Argentine tango differs from ballroom tango in position, hug, improvisation, movement, balance, steps and music. It is completely different from the top of your head to the base of the soles of the boots you dance it with.
If you have ballroom tango experience, think of Argentine tango as a completely new dance, not as an evolution of what you already know.
IS ARGENTINO TANGO A DANCE OF THE SCENE?
Quite a few people take an interest in tango dancing because they have seen a tango show performance. The tango you see on stage is related to social tango, but very different from it. Stage tango is called "fantasy" and is more theatrical and exaggerated than social tango for the simple reason that the audience must be able to see the performance from the back row.
Contemplating the performance is a great opportunity to see tango, and (hopefully) hear a live tango orchestra. Once you hear bandoneon live, you will never forget it.
DO I NEED A PARTNER?
You don't need a partner to start learning to dance tango. There are always loads of people taking classes and not everyone usually comes with a partner. In my experience, most come without a partner. If the class has a gender imbalance, the teacher can ask people to change each other and so everyone has a chance to learn. Don't let the absence of a partner get in the way of your exploration.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
One of the most important aspects of learning tango is self-practice. If there are weekly practices in your city, pick one or two or three and go. Otherwise, rent a studio space or dance in your living room. I have found that regular practice is the most important element in becoming an accomplished tango dancer. It is also a good way to meet other people in the tango community who are more experienced in dancing. They can be a good source of answers to questions.
Finding the greatest tango boots is part of the dance fun. Tango is usually performed in boots with leather soles that fit well on the feet. Belt shoes for women and lace-up boots for men are the most common. Women should also wear shoes with a heel. In the beginning, open-toe women's shoes and men's zip-up boots are usually a disaster. There are boots designed specifically for tango dancers, but the key is to find boots that support your feet, prevent your toes from squishing, and are comfortable enough to dance for hours. I do not recommend using ballroom dancing shoes because they lack support and a suede sole.
No matter what kind of shoes you dance in, everyone should add cushions to their shoes. I recommend Spenco pillows because they are incredibly comfortable, resilient and long lasting. Dr Scholl's foam pillows are fine, but avoid the expensive and useless blue gel-filled pillows. They sound like a good idea - a water mattress for your feet - but extremely disappointing.
TANGO DANCE FAMILY
There are actually three tango dances - each with its own music - in Argentine social dance. All three dances will be performed during the evening. The first is just tango. It is a dance that most people would recognize as tango and the dance that most beginners learn first. His music is typically based on a slow, steady, four-count beat. The second dance is called milonga. Milonga is a fast-paced dance based on simplified tango steps. It has almost the same rhythm and feel as the polka. Milonga music is historically older than tango music, but the dance itself is actually newer. Milonga is a dance just for fun. The third is a tango waltz called vals or vals cruzado. The tango waltz music is based on the classical 1-2-3 waltz, but in this type of tango, dancers usually dance on "one".
The word milonga has three uses in tango. It means (1) milonga dance, (2) milonga dance music, and (3) tango dance party. For you, perhaps, dance milonga to milonga at milonga. And believe me, it's great!
ARGENTINO TANGO STYLES
There are different styles in Argentine tango that you may hear people refer to. They will say, "Oh, he's a milonguero dancer" or "She dances like a salon." The styles are as unique as the dancers and I think it's pretty silly to try to classify them. Just remember that if you hear the terms "salon", "milonguero", "fantasy", or "orillero", then this is someone talking about a certain style.
As with any form of art development, it is impossible to try to impose rules. New ones are popping up every day and dancers find ways to play with them and incorporate them into their dance. In the past few years, styles known as nuevo and liquid have emerged. Who knows what will happen next? All we know is that it will come.
"Argentine tango and styles"
Tangos are danced in different styles to the accompaniment of different types of music. These styles differ in tempo and basic movement. Most modern dancers do not identify themselves as a particular style and include different styles and ideas in their dance. Some people don't even like it when they are told that they are dancing in a certain style of tango. But in the end, seeing a particular style is as easy (or difficult) as it is to tell the difference between Impressionist painting and modernism.
The main criterion that any style of tango always falls under is an open or closed (close) embrace. In a close embrace, the couple dance very close to each other, and often actually touch their shoulders and heads. In an open embrace, the couple stands more apart, which allows the dancers to have a wider range of motion.
Salon style is usually performed with the body upright. The hug can be close or open, but usually with an offset (the center of each dancer is slightly towards the center of their partner) and in the V position (the woman's left shoulder is closer to the man's right shoulder than her right shoulder is to his left shoulder). When dancing in close embrace, the couple sometimes loosen their embrace a little in order to perform certain movements.
Milonguero style tango is performed with an inclined position, with the dancers joining the shoulders. Style is danced in close embrace. Usually a woman's head and body are so close to her partner that her left hand is placed far behind her partner's neck. The couple maintains constant upper body contact and often does not loosen the hug for turns or ocho. The main step of the style is ocho cortado, which incorporates all factors in one movement.
Oriillero's style originated from places where the dancers had a lot of room to maneuver and were thus able to keep long distances from their partners, and this allowed both dancers to take steps outside the embrace. Orillero's style differs from the Salon style in these playful, space-consuming decorations and figures. Style is danced in both open and close embraces.
Club style is a fusion of milonguero and salon styles. Danced in a close embrace, but the couple looses their embrace during turns, allowing the woman to spin more freely.
TANGO NUEVO (NEW TANGO)
Tango Nuevo is a largely analytical approach that studies the structure of a dance in order to find new combinations of steps and movements. Danced in an open and free embrace in an upright position, and great importance is attached to each dancer supporting his own axis.
FANTASY (TANGO SHOW)
Fantasy is a style of tango that is performed in a stage show. It is a combination of different styles performed in an open embrace with additional elements that are not part of social tango.
Kangenge is a historical form of tango. A close hug with an offset in the V position. Dancers usually bent their knees when moving. Cangenge dancers are known for exaggerated body movements that accentuate their steps.
The history of tango music is as rich and interesting as dance. Tango music in Argentina developed in much the same way as swing music in the United States. It began as simple rhythms played for dancers by orchestras led by some colorful and charismatic bandleaders. Over time, simpler rhythms evolved into more complex ones. And finally, framed in a large number of jazz-like interpretations, it became less suitable for dancing, but great to listen to.
Tango music is probably the most different from other types of music in two things: the bandoneon and the lack of drums. The Bandoneon is a German instrument that looks and feels like a descendant of the accordion and organ. In fact, the instrument was invented to provide organ-like music to church congregations unable to provide an actual organ. Like many immigrants in Argentina, bandoneon found its way into its culture and left an indelible mark on it.
You may also notice that there are no drums in tango music. The beat is kept in the bass and lower range of the piano with (usually) bandoneons, while the violins and upper range of the piano provide captivating rhythms.
When you start dancing tango, you will most likely be dancing to the most rhythmic music of the 1940s and 1950s, known as the Golden Age of Tango. Music from the late 1930s is good for learning how to hear the beat and feel the beat. As you become more experienced, it will become very interesting to interpret later music (including modern tango orchestras) with its most modern jazz rhythms.
To develop your understanding of music, you can consult the guide Music for Dancers New to Argentine Tango. It lists CDs well suited for dancers first learning to hear the rhythm of Argentine tango music.
AT MILONG (TANGO DANCE PARTY)
The pure joy of dancing tango is in milonga. Milonga refers to a party where tangos, milongas and waltzes are performed.
Milongas are very popular, as they open up ample opportunities for practicing the skills acquired in the classroom, meeting many dancers of different levels and just having a pleasant rest in the company of like-minded people. Each dance performed in the milonga is an improvisation of partners, in which the learned movements create a special pattern, superimposed on the sounding music. Nobody knows how the dance will turn out in the end, which makes tango so attractive for many.
For the maximum comfort of all the dancers, a special kodigos was invented - a set of rules of conduct in the milonga, emphasizing its customs and aesthetics. At first glance, it may seem contrived, but each point is necessary and absolutely practical. Codigos in Argentine tango was born during the formation and development of dance.
HOW TO INVITE SOMEONE TO DANCE
In Argentina, men invite women to dance with their eyes - a certain look, a movement of the head towards the dance floor, or a smile that says, "Will you dance with me?" This can happen across the room if the eye is caught. If a woman wants to accept a dance with a man, she smiles back and (most importantly) keeps looking at him as he approaches her. The slightest glance to the side is usually interpreted as a signal: "I have changed my mind and do not want to dance." This system is great, but full of pitfalls. What if the inviter is looking at the woman behind you? Did you actually see "yes", or maybe "maybe?"
Since we are participating in this Argentine art form, the practice of inviting to dance with the gaze is followed to some extent. In many areas of the world, however, you can invite to dance directly or with your best Argentine look. As with dance, practice improves.
ACCEPT THE DANCE OR SAY "NO THANKS"
To accept the dance, it is enough to simply say "yes". You can do it with your own eyes - keep your eye on people who are using the Argentine way, or accept a direct invitation.
It is also perfectly acceptable to say, "no, thank you." If you accept the dance, remember that it will probably last for the end of the tanda, which can be three or four songs if you start at the beginning. If either one of you decides that one or two dances are enough, anyone can just say "thank you" and start walking off the dance floor. As soon as you say "thank you" to someone in a polite manner, the dance with that person is over.
NEW ON MILONG
As a beginner, you will either strive to dance with everyone or hesitate to be seen as a beginner. If you want to dance, go and dance. Just remember that tangos dance along lines that keep moving, and more experienced dancers tend to stay on the outside. If you hesitate, I can guarantee that everyone in the room was once new and understands how experiences get in the way when you look around and see that everyone is sliding when you know only three movements. Even those who have been dancing for only two weeks longer than you will look like they have been dancing for years. I can't explain it, but it always happens.
The way to become a good dancer is to perform and dance. As Woody Allen once said, "98 percent success is in presentation."
USEFUL TANGO TERMS
The following terms are often used to describe some of the basic elements of tango:
adornos - jewelry
amague - fake
arrastre - drawing
barrida - sweeping
boleo - not translated (specific movement that can be done high or low)
caminar - basic walking tango template
cruzada - cross
corrida - rhythmic run (walking at a brisk pace)
enrosque - twisting movement during rotation
freno - brake (blocking the leg)
gancho - hook (movement type)
giro - turn
lapiz - literally means pencil (to draw a circle on the floor)
mordida - literally means "bite" (used when feet form a sandwich)
ocho - "figure eight" (part of the turn)
parada - stop
salida - literally means "exit", but in tango it is the main entrance to the dance
sacada - offset
Here is a list of things a beginner should do:
FOR THE LEADER:
Know how to ask someone to dance
Follow the line of dance and stay on the line
Keep your balance
Keeping pace (even by taking more bizarre steps)
Know where you and others are on the floor
Know how to walk, turn around, stop and hold some decorations
Know how to interrupt a stride to avoid being hit by another pair
Know how to combine basic elements to form a dance
FOR THE SLAVE:
Know how to accept or decline a dance
Wait for lead
Go smoothly and go well to the cross
Keep your balance
Keep the rhythm
Know about others on the floor
Know how to walk, turn, stop, and complete a few decorations
Once you master the items on these lists, you become an average dancer. As an average dancer, keep working to dance with more improvisation; to improve your stance and balance; to interpret music at a more complex level; to be able to combine many basic elements and form new steps in the dance, or perhaps create your own.
by Susan August Brown
Tango. Concert of the tango orchestra under the direction of B. Myagkov, in which our Argentine tango school took part. , 2018-12-10, Grodno
New Year's Milonga in our club 2018-12-30, Grodno.
Argentine tango in Grodno. Transfer of the City Window. , 2018-12-07, Grodno.
Tango-flash mob, OldCiti shopping center, 2018-08-22, Grodno
Tango waltz. Concert of the tango orchestra under the direction of B. Myagkov, in which our Argentine tango school took part. , 2018-12-10, Grodno
Celebration of the city of Grodno , Youth Center, 2018-09-15
Luda and Andrey in the Grodno television studio
Argentine tango is a man's business!
Tango-flash mob, Youth Center, 2018-08-18, Grodno
Dance surprise of the Argentine tango school in Grodno
at the corporate party of RUE "Grodnoenergo" (VERAS restaurant)
Open lesson in Argentine tango
Club "Empire", Grodno, 17.09.2017
Argentine tango, our practices, 05/06/17
Argentine tango, our practices, 05/20/2017
Argentine tango, "Zevana's Castle" restaurant 11/19/2016
Andrey Mishustin and Lyudmila Tarasenko
Advertising video of the Open lesson on 01/29/2017 at 13.00
Tango from the movie "The Envy of the Gods"
concert of the "Nota Band" orchestra, 04/29/2016, Grodno
Andrey Mishustin and Lyudmila Tarasenko
Milonga on the basis of the "Empire" club
Open lesson in Argentine tango
Club "Empire", Grodno, 13.09.2015
The first milonga based on the "Empire" club
Milonga at the Argentine tango school "ELPASO",