Do you want to know how to dance the Tango?
Just like most dances from the Caribbean or South America, the Tango is a combination of a few dances mixed together.
The Tango mixes African Candombe, Spanish-Cuban Habanera, and Argentinian Milonga to create a unique blend of cultures.
How to Dance Tango
The Tango was frequently danced in the brothels and bars of ports in Argentina and can be seen at the many tango cafes in Buenos Aires.
The Argentine Tango then spread to the rest of the world, being an often-used dance of Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars).
If you’re thinking of starting tango dance lessons, many variations of this dance currently exist around the world and the blends can still be seen today.
UNESCO approved a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay to include the Tango in its ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ lists.
So, what makes the Tango a Tango?
The History of Tango
The development of Tango as we know it today started in the mid 19th century after Argentina received a major influx of immigrants seeking a better life across the Atlantic Ocean.
Many people from all over Africa and Europe brought their nation’s traditions to make the streets of Buenos Aires a melting pot.
Tango was formed when immigrants were introducing European minuet dances, polkas, and many African influences to Argentinians.
You can read more about the African contributions in this book on the Afro-Argentines and learn more about their influence.
The mixture of styles never became an upper-class fancy, but rather the dance of the masses.
It was viewed as a working-class dance in the 1800s.
By the start of the 20th Century, the expansion of the Tango’s popularity became unstoppable.
It became a dance for all classes and spread to other cities in Argentina.
Over 1000 records and sheets of written Tango music were all released in Argentina and the popularity started to spread to other countries.
In the year 1910, the history of tango was changed forever with the arrival of Bandoneon from Germany to Buenos Aires, where it became inextricably linked with Tango music from then on.
The Bandoneon became the staple of the Tango band ensemble and the essential sound to the Tango.
How to Dance The Tango
So, are you feeling inspired?
Put your tango dancing shoes on and see the interactive video below:
Follow the step-by-step instructions to get a feel for the dance:
- Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Hold your head high with your spine straight and your chin forward. Engage your core to roll your shoulders back and keep your neck in line with your back. Better posture means more confidence when dancing.
- Bend your knees slightly to put a bounce in your step. As you stand up straight, bend your knees just slightly so you can bounce up and down as you move your feet. The tango is all about fluidity, and you can’t be fluid if your knees are locked in place.
If you lock your knees and keep your legs straight, you might end up looking stiff as you dance.
- Master the 5 leading steps if you’re the leading partner. The leading partner is the one who will be leading the dance, and their partner will follow.
- Mirror the leading steps if you’re the following partner.
The following partner mimics the movements of the leading partner, only on the opposite foot going the opposite direction.
If you want to learn the following partner’s moves, practice:
Backward with your right foot
Backward with your left foot
Backward with your right foot
To the left with your left foot
- Move your feet in the pattern “slow, slow, quick, quick, slow.” Each step that you take has a different speed.
The first 2 steps should be slow, the next 2 are quick, and the last one is slow again.
Dance to the beat of the music. Listen to some tango music and find the rhythm to move your feet to.
Being The Leading Partner
If you’d like to be a leading partner, practice
Forward with your left foot
Forward with your right foot
Forward with left foot
To the right with your right foot
Feet together, moving left to meet right. Repeat.
Dance Tango: With a Partner
Place one hand on your partner’s back. Stand about 6 inches (15 cm) away from your partner facing each other.
If you are the leading partner, place your right hand on your partner’s back just behind their shoulder.
As the following partner, put your left hand on your partner’s back in the same position.
Hold your other hand up and grab your partner’s free hand. If you have your right hand on your partner’s back, raise your left hand at about shoulder height to the side.
If you have your left hand on your partner’s back, raise your right hand to meet your partner’s free hand. Grasp it firmly to keep your hands in the air as you dance.
Lead your partner around the room if you are the leader. If you’ve chosen the lead partner position, you get to choose where you and your partner go as you dance.
If you’re in a large dance hall, look out for other dancers as you move around the room, rotating in a counter-clockwise circle.
Famous Tango Songs
Have you managed to get your Tango steps down to a T? Now get yourself familiarized with these famous Tango songs:
With these Tango songs, you shouldn’t have any trouble impressing your friends, family, and other bystanders.
How to Dance Tango: Final Words
The Tango is the patron saint of Argentinian dance.
It represents not only the native culture before the time of mass immigration, but also represents the melting pot that the country became at the start of the 20th Century.
If you are planning a trip to Argentina, be sure to factor in some time to learn more about Tango during your trip.
It is extremely fun to try for yourself and it has a rhythm, unlike other Latin dances. Try it out!
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