Argentina's Tango

Argentine Tango: Dancing with Passion

Dancing with Passion: Argentine Tango

Have you tried dancing Argentine Tango? If not, you might give Argentine Tango a shot. Argentine Tango is considered as a social dance and a musical genre. You will feel the heat and excitement when you indulge in this type of dance, the Argentine Tango.

Origin of Argentine Tango the midst of immigrant populations from Europe

Argentine Tango originated in the suburbs in Buenos Aires during the 19th century in the midst of immigrant populations from Europe, Africa and native-born Argentines. The evolution of tango reflects the immigrants profound sense of loss and longing for the people and places they left behind. Most likely the tango was born in African-Argentine dance venues attended by compadritos, young men. They took the tango back to the Corrales Viejos—the slaughterhouse district of Buenos Aires—and introduced it in various low-life establishments where dancing took place. Although high society looked down upon the activities in the barrios, the sons of the porteño oligarchy were not averse to slumming. By the beginning of the 20th century, the Argentine Tango had established itself both as a dance and as an early form of popular musicin the fast-expanding Buenos Aires. It soon spread to the rest of Argentina and Uruguay. Tango Feet

In the early 1900s, wealthy sons of Argentine society families made their way to Paris and introduced the tango into a society hungry for innovation and not entirely averse to the “risqué” nature of the dance. By 1913, Argentine Tango had become an international phenomenon in Paris, London and New York. Argentine Tango was in its “Golden Age” during the mid-30s to the end of the 50s. Tango’s fortunes have always been tied to economic conditions and this was very true in the 1950s. During this time, as political repression developed, lyrics reflected political feelings until they started to be banned as subversive. The dance and its music went underground as large dance venues were closed and large gatherings in general were prohibited.

“Tango Argentino” and “Forever Tango” re-ignited interest

Argentine Tango GalaThe Argentine Tango survived in smaller, unpublicized venues and in the hearts of the people. But in the 1980’s, the worldwide popularity of the Broadway shows “Tango Argentino” and “Forever Tango” re-ignited interest in this beautiful and passionate dance. Argentine Tango dancing and instruction spread throughout Europe and the United States. Travelers went to Argentina to study and learn in the “homeland,” and the wave of popularity of Argentine Tango has been growing ever since. Today, new dance philosophies and styles are bloming. New ways of analyzing old steps, and the incorporation of new steps and movements from modern dance forms as diverse as Swing and Contact Improvisation are creating a period of rapid evolution. In addition, new tango music and the practice of dancing tango steps to other musical forms is popular in many venues.

Argentine Tango: its dances and styles

Unlike most other dance styles, Argentine Tango has no fixed rules for tempo or steps. At every beat of the music, the leader has the option to lead the follower to step in any one of several directions (forward, back, side, front-cross, back-cross, weight-change in place, boleo, gancho, etc.), or just to pause. The ability to add pauses and tempo changes to accompany the music is a key element making Argentine Tango what it is – a dance of infinite variety: no two dances are ever the same. Just as every partner, every song, every night, is different, the dance that results is itself unique and can never be repeated. Argentine Tango encompasses a variety of styles such as Tango canyengue, Tango orillero, Salon tango, Estilo milonguero, Tango nuevo, Tango tradicional, Tango con corte y quebrada, Tango de fantasia, Tango acrobatico and Tango de escenario.

Dancing the Argentine Tango

Gentle leadingDancing Argentine Tango is essentially walking with a partner and the music. Dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango is extremely important to dancing Argentine Tango. A good dancer is one who transmits a feeling of the music to the partner. Argentine Tango is the most spontaneous and lacking patterns of the partner dances. Social Argentine Tango is not choreographed. Every component of every step – timing, speed, and direction – is led. This requires the follower to be paying full attention every moment to the various, sometimes very subtle, body movements that constitute the leader’s signals. Although Argentine Tango is said by seasoned tangueros to have no “basic step”, some of the movements have been developed through the years, and the 8’count basic is often considered the basic today. Argentine Tango has a strong etiquette. At milongas, Argentine tango is danced in the “line of dance” ie counterclockwise around the outside of the dance floor. The basic idea is to dance with the flow of forward traffic refraining from crossing lanes, cutting through the center, stopping in the outside lane to perform a non-progressing move, or stepping backward to the line-of-dance. On a crowded dance floor, aggressive movements, high boleos, ganchos, and leg extensions are frowned upon. Trying to teach Argentine Tango on the dance floor while others are dancing is rude and a mark of very poor dance etiquette.

If you haven’t tried dancing Argentine Tango…why not, give it a shot.


Certified professional dance instructor/choreographer living in Newport News, VA Commutes to Richmond for over 15 years to teach. I enjoy helping people discover the power of dance in their lives. Regardless of your ability remember this, "anyone can learn to dance," and here's why you should say "Never": It can transform your life in ways you never thought possible. Introduce you to people you'd never meet and shape your confidence like never before.

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