Details in Argentine Tango dance.

How to dance Tango: An introduction to the most important details.

Argentine Tango classes San Francisco Bay Area and Buenos Aires Marcelo SolisLearning to dance Argentine Tango requires passionate dedication and practice.

Here we offer you indispensable information on details regarding Argentine Tango, and a series of exercises that will help you improve your dancing skills.

Whether you are a beginner without any dancing experience, an intermediate dancer looking to polish your dance, or an advanced dancer in search of perfecting your moves, practicing these exercises as often as possible will take your dance to the next level.

During our Argentine Tango group classes and private lessons at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires we focus on posture, walk, awareness, connection and musicality.

In this article we offer you important insights and effective exercises to help you in your goal of becoming a great Tango dancer, a true milonguera or milonguero.

Practicing them often will improve your technique, making you able to express your emotions and achieve a superb interpretation of the music.

To learn more about Argentine Tango music, please refer to our dedicated page…

Posture

Definition:

Our upright posture manifests extraordinary qualities.

We, humans, are unique among all known species. Our upright posture manifests extraordinary qualities. By the way we stand up and present ourselves, we tell our own story, who we are, what we strive for, our dreams, our ideals, our thoughts and emotions. Through working on our posture we work not only on our body but on our entire persona. Therefore, from the perspective of a milonguero, good posture is not merely instrumental, achieved and developed only for the purpose of dancing well, but, in addition to our dance, the way we exist, presented to ourselves and everybody. What we can see in our posture (whether it’s the same or different from what everyone else sees) informs about us and shows what we can improve about ourselves.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Legs and feet together, your weight distributed equally between them.
  • Shift your weight to one foot, displacing your vertical axis in the direction of the foot that holds your weight.

  • Keep the inside edge of your foot that is free of weight in contact with the floor (“inside edge position”).
Argentine Tango dance important details. Classes and private lessons at Escuela de tango de Buenos Aires.
“Inside edge position.”
  • Maintain your weight comfortably on the standing foot by conducting the weight of your body through it to the floor.
  • Knees close to each other. Your knees maintaining a constant connection to your axis, which passes through the center of your body, from the top of your head to the center of the base of your body in regard to your weight distribution on one foot or between both feet.
  • Hips level, your ilia (hip bone) parallel to the floor, aligned with your transversal plane.
  • Torso aligned with your vertical axis, head rests on your torso, which rests on your legs.
  • Neck and head aligned with the same vertical axis.
  • Alignment of all your body parts to your central axis becomes essential: head, neck, torso, hips, legs, feet.
  • Eyes looking forward. Sight aligned with the floor, looking to the horizontal line.
Details about Argentine Tango dance. Head position. Classes and private lessons.
“Eyes looking forward. Sight aligned with the floor, looking to the horizontal line.”

Walk

Definition:

As with our posture, our human walk is also unique.

As with our posture, our human walk is also unique. In the case of dancing Tango, we are required to develop a way of walking which, remaining natural, serves the purpose of walking in the intimate company of our partner, embraced by each other, among other couples, creating a silent poetic dialogue with our bodies and in connection with the cadence of Argentine Tango music. This kind of music was devised to serve such a purpose, and always guides us on how to move in such situations.

Technical details and exercises:

  • After shifting your weight to one foot, move the leg that is free of weight forward and backward like a pendulum, maintaining light contact with the floor, using the “inside edge position” when passing through the “collect position” when both feet are together.
  • Then move the leg that is free of weight to the side, keeping your foot in touch with the floor, always using the “inside edge position”.
  • Last, make small circles while keeping your foot in touch with the floor, using the “inside edge position” while passing through the “collect position” when both feet together, and when stepping into the side position.
  • Keep your ilia at the same height, parallel to the floor, aligned with the transversal plane.
  • The movement of your leg is rooted in the ball and socket joint, which connects your femur to your hip.
  • Release both your knee and ankle joints so they can move freely.
  • The knee of the supporting leg is in a relaxed, ready state, neither bent nor locked.
  • Walk naturally, swinging the leg that is free of weight forward, extending it a little, letting your axis move in the same direction and maintaining it vertically through the transition, pushing gently from your back standing leg, and transferring your weight to the front leg at the end of this process, keep your foot in touch with the floor, softly, without dragging it.
  • Reverse the process to walk backwards. Pay close attention to the back of your foot by pointing it backwards when extending the leg that is free of weight, keep your foot in touch with the floor at all times, softly, without dragging it.
  • Maintain all details regarding your posture as described before.
  • At every step, take a back and forth step movement, changing your weight between feet. Practice this exercise going forward and backward.
  • Use this element to change directions when walking forward to backward and vice versa.

Pivot

Definition:

Rotation of your body’s axis as it passes through the ball of your standing foot.

Rotation of your body’s axis as it passes through the ball of your standing foot. To pivot, rotate your torso in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, producing a torque which gently pulls your lower body into a rotation that follows in the same direction as your torso.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Maintain the “inside edge position” when you pivot.
  • Step forward after pivoting, aligning your foot that is free of weight with your lower sagittal plane.
  • Direct your step forward in a circular trajectory around your partner. Orient the center of your torso towards the central axis of the couple.
  • From the step forward to the next position going forward, in which you will transfer your weight to the front foot, your torso is already rotating towards the center of the couple, so the foot that remains behind, by the pull of this torsion, which takes the shape of a spiral, turns your back foot, first, to the inside edge in contact with the floor, and then, makes it travel to your sagittal line, to the “collect/inside edge position”.
  • After this “collect/inside edge position”, we research these possibilities:
    1. Forward ocho: Pivot more continuing in the same direction of your established rotation and move the foot that is free of weight forward, in alignment with your lower sagittal plane, your torso torquing according to counter body movement, orienting the center of your chest to the central axis of the couple.
    2. Forward-side: Pass the foot that is free of weight behind the heel of your standing/pivoting foot while keeping the inside edge in contact with the floor, and continue to the side around your partner.

    3. Backward ocho: When you reach the collect position, reverse the movement, bringing the leg that is free of weight back to the starting point when it was behind you. At this point you can collect/inside edge position and from there:
    a) Continue pivoting the same direction as your established rotation and move the leg that is free of weight backward, aligned with your lower sagittal plane, your torso torquing according to counter body movement, orienting the center of your chest to the central axis of the couple (backward ocho).

    b) Reverse the rotation of the pivot and return forward with the leg that is free of weight to the previous position (boleo).

NOTE about knees: the knee of the leg that is free of weight passes behind the standing leg, fitting its convex shape into the concave space behind the knee of your standing leg, moving all around the standing leg until getting its concave back in front of its convex shape, making your feet end crossed. Your standing leg needs to be in a relaxed ready position, neither bent nor locked, while your leg that is free of weight is extended with a tension comparable to the tension of a well-tuned musical instrument string. Exercise: Move your leg that is free of weight around your standing leg back and forth.

Boleo

Definition:

A back and forth movement of the leg without changing weight.

Since our legs move like pendulums, a back and forth movement of the leg without changing weight is possible. We call this “boleo”. This pendular movement of the leg that is free of weight is most often combined with the spiral movement of the leg described above in relation to pivoting.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Keeping the leg that is free of weight in the “inside edge position,” pivot back and forth, allowing it to swing like a pendulum, while maintaining the details described above about knees and legs.
  • Do forward and backward ochos and practice the back and forth pendulum in every pivot.

Connection

Definition:

We are supremely gifted with the ability to connect to others.

We are supremely gifted with the ability to connect to others. It is also an intrinsic necessity of our human condition. Our capacity for connection with other human beings predates the appearance of language. Dancing Tango puts this primordial skill into play, connecting us without words.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Partner up facing each other and walk forward and backward maintaining the same distance between partners. One must lead and the other must follow.
  • When the leader walks backward, he places his partner to the right as the follower walks forward (outside partner position).
  • When the leader walks forward, he will walk in front and outside partner position. His left leg will always make the first step outside and in front.

Line of dance

Definition:

All couples on the dance floor move counter clockwise direction.

All couples on the dance floor move counter clockwise direction.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Partner up and face each other on the dance floor, oriented in a way that the leader walks forward and the follower walks backward, the couples travel on the dance floor in a counter clockwise direction.
  • Hands on each other’s shoulders.
  • Walk in outside and in front partner position.
  • Pause when in front of your partner.
  • Lead forward/backward movement when in outside partner position.

Systems

Definition:

There are two fundamental ways to combine movement of the four legs of a couple.

There are two fundamental ways to combine movement of the four legs of a couple:
1. Parallel system: The leader’s left leg moves in sync with the follower’s right leg and vice versa.
2. Crossed system: The leader’s left leg moves in sync with the follower’s left leg and vice versa.

Technical details and exercises:

Walk in front of each other, leaders forward and followers backwards.

  • In parallel system, inside/outside.
  • Change of system technique: leader’s left step, feet together, left again; followers always move the foot that is free of weight.
  • In crossed system:
    1. On the open side.

    2. In front.

    3. On the closed side.

    NOTE about distribution of weight: Leaders always rest their weight on both feet; followers are always lead to rest their weight on one foot.

Embrace

Definition:

It’s a very humane characteristic.

It’s a very humane characteristic, since we stand on two feet and our arms are free.
Social dancing started in Europe during the Renaissance. Before dancing was ritual. In the beginning partners wouldn’t touch at all. Then they took each other’s hands in the minuet. Then the woman was on the man’s arms in the waltz. We can observe the tendency of partners getting closer to each other. Finally the couple dances intimately embraced in Tango.

Technical details and exercises:

  • Hold hands, like an honest handshake.
Details in Argentine Tango. Embrace.
“Hold hands, like an honest handshake.”
  • Center of your chests in front of each other.
  • A vertical axis of the couple passes through this center between your chests.
  • You can imagine a ball bearing as the joint between you and your partner, located in the central axis of the couple, at the midpoint of connection between each partner’s chest.
  • Right hand of the leader in complete contact with the follower’s mid-back.
  • The embrace is neither too loose nor too tight. It must be warm, relaxed, versatile and consistent.

References:

Anatomical planes to learn to dance Argentine Tango
Anatomical planes
Learn to dance Argentine Tango at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

How to best take advantage of our classes?

We recommend that you become a regular student.

Learn to dance Argentine Tango at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.We need to educate ourselves with a set of good habits, which in turn will allow us to flow through the dance floor in a comfortable manner.

The more of our classes you take, the sooner you will feel comfortable and incorporate what you are learning to be able to dance.

The best way to advantage of our classes is to take all of them, and the second best is to take as many as possible.

Asking us which one of our classes we recommend is like asking a father which one of his children he loves the most: we love all our classes. We fully engage ourselves, making each of them one-of-a-kind. In this sense, the best way to advantage of our classes is to take all of them, and the second best is to take as many as possible.

Our pricing options include class cards, which will allow you to take any of our classes with a single payment. See more information pricing options…

Private lessons:

Private lessons are a must!!!

Another advantage of becoming a regular student is that we will be able to personalize our instruction to you. In order to better personalize our instruction to you, private lessons are a must. More information about private lessons…

When making your decision, please keep in mind that learning how to dance is comparable to learning how to live:

How much of your life are you willing to give to the goal of living better?

Dancing Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires.

To dance Tango is to belong to a society: the milonga

Bailando con Monica Paz. Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires. Marcelo Solis.Tango is a partner’s dance that is based on the embrace.

Therefore, from the moment that we lose the embrace it stops being Tango. All these intricate footwork that we see is secondary. The real challenge of Tango is to be able to dance while keeping embraced. Also, you must know that all the movements we do in Tango are not just designed to keep the embrace. but to produce it.

Tango starts when we embrace and continues with movements that make us to embrace each other.

It is a social dance. To dance Tango is to belong to a society that exists in the milonga.

It is a social dance. To dance Tango is to belong to a society that exists in the milonga.
Milonga is not just a dance floor. Milonga is like a temple. You ought to know and respect the rituals of the milonga because a collective created it. It is not a rigid set of rules, but you have to agree to listen and pay attention to those who already have spent their whole lives there. Over time you will see that it all makes perfect sense, but you are not going to understand it right away. To understand it you must think as a dancer. To be able to think as a dancer you need to become a dancer first, and that takes time.

Not just any place that assigns itself the name of the milonga is a milonga.

Not just any place that assigns itself the name of the milonga is a milonga. A milonga is a milonga if a big chunk of its participants are educated enough in the subtleties of the milonga and the dance.
The milonga is like a family or a country in many aspects. If you are new, you will be respected as a “baby” in the family, but you ought to understand and consider that you, as a “newborn baby”, won’t be able to do everything the “adults” do.  Same as an immigrant in a new country, you first have to demonstrate your acceptance of the ideals of your new country, your desire to become a part of it. For sure, you will incorporate your own particularities, same as a new person in a family would, but you will start where everybody starts.

If a place gathers a lot of new dancers and a very little amount or none of the senior “family” members, it is not a milonga in reality. Milonga is not a place where anything goes and where the kids play without their parents watching, otherwise it is just a kids’ playground.

Tango is rooted in the most profound characteristics of the human being.

It is understandable that Tango, being rooted in the most profound characteristics of human being[1], makes many people think that Tango is whatever their body would do, feel and express when they embrace their partner and move to the cadence of their favorite music. It is true up to a certain level. But Tango also exists outside them, outside their own body, and outside their lifetime.

If you are attracted to Tango, if you feel Tango, if you love Tango, its music, if you ARE Tango; then you belong to Tango.

If you belong to a city, let’s say San Francisco, California; you would be proud to be able to guide a visitor into your city. If you do not know the names of the streets, nobody would consider that you belong to this city.

Imagine that you suddenly discover you belong to a family you do not know. At any age, you would like to learn about your family. It is a fundamental element of your identity. You would like to know its origins, the entire genealogy of your family. Wouldn’t you?

What if you visit Paris, fall in love with the city, and decide to live there? Would you be satisfied with just staying at home, and knowing just your address?

Let’s now imagine that you just discovered Tango. You saw a performance, perhaps. Something inside you told you “I want to do that”. What was it? Was it the outfit, the moves, the music, the attitudes or all that?  Then you go and take a class. You may get introduced to a basic set of moves, get an explanation of the rhythm, the posture, the embrace, a little of Tango history.  If you do not get at least a few of these topics, you may like to look for another class.

An authentic teacher teaches you to dance Tango as it is danced in the most authentic milongas of Buenos Aires.

An authentic teacher teaches you to dance Tango as it is danced in the most authentic milongas of Buenos Aires. He or she would be able to transmit that to you only if he or she does it too: dances in the milongas, belongs to the Tango family, knows the geography of Tango, because he or she loves Tango.

How to know?  You will have to go to Buenos Aires to find out, and even then, you may get lost on the way, and end in some of the zillion of parties that are called milongas, but milongas they are not, or just approximations. You will need to be guided into the Tango realm by someone who belongs to it. You won’t be the only or the first one: everybody in the milonga arrived there in the same way.

Would it bother you if I tell you about the History of Tango? I understand that you probably come to dance Tango to experience of “living in the present”, to liberate yourself from the stress of your mundane life. But you have to know that the “present” you live in when you dance Tango connects you to all the “present” moments lived by those who have danced Tango (and the ones that will in the future…but we do not know yet what to say about those ones).

When Tango was the most popular activity of Buenos Aires, you would come for the first time to a milonga accompanied by someone who already is a regular, most probably a relative (that’s why the family comparison is very appropriate). You wouldn’t go to the milonga without previous longtime preparation at home, in the social club of your neighborhood, in family parties, with your relatives and friends.

The task of a Tango instructor is to integrate a new student to the milonga.

The task of a Tango instructor is to integrate a new student to the milonga. Many integrate their students to their groups without encouraging them to be individuals at the milongas. They end up participating as assistants in the organizations of their teachers classes and events, and remain forever related to Tango only in this indirect way.

Groups authenticate each of its members. As a teen, with my buddies we once got into a very popular quinceañera party where nobody knew us. A few of us climbed into the roof of the club where the party was taking place, and entered through the bathroom window. Once inside, unnoticed, we took place at a table with empty chairs close to the door. The rest started to enter through the door, and we greeted them. That was enough to let them in. We authenticate them, so they were authenticated by the group members as belonging to the whole group.

In the story, finally we were discovered as outsiders because some boys in the group started to misbehave, throwing cake to each other with such unlucky aim that it reached the quinceañera’s dress. We were expulsed from the party by the adults.

I think that we could have been integrated, stayed till the end of the party and made new friends if those guys were more moderate. We did not behave according to the “etiquette” of the party. If we did, we could have been accepted as a part of the family. In the meantime, we were a small closed group inside of the wider community of the quinceaňera party. We did not integrate, and it makes sense: we were outsiders.

Tango is an important part of your life.

From all the groups that form Tango, I have chosen those composed by the oldest persons that started dancing Tango as teenagers or even children, and were not interested in Tango as a profession. For them Tango was an important part of their lives because Tango was an important part of the lives of all the inhabitants of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rosario. They were born between 1920 (Roberto Segarra) and 1944 (Ricardo “Tito” Franquelo)[2]. Tango was a source of identity, not the only one (football is another), but extremely important. They went with their relatives and friends to the milonga. They met their spouses there. They came back as couples to find there other couples of friends. They went alone again after separation, divorce or death of their partner. The milongas recorded a reflection of their lives.

Today they are extremely wise. You can see it in their attitude, the way they dance, talk, behave, shake your hand, the way they embrace. Also, they have a very particular power, knowing the remained days of their lives are less than the ones behind them, they have no fear to be sincere. They put everything in each single move, in each word, in each gesture. And they do not have to pose. They are living, in a very natural way, in a very honest way. That is a particular privilege, since in Tango, at the distance of a close embrace, you cannot avoid honesty. Also, because they are not “professional dancers”, they do not have to pretend, to be nice to you in order to get business.

You need to be educated to be able to see that.

You need to be educated to be able to see that. It is not evident. You won’t see all these subtleties unless someone draws your attention to them. Of course there are many ways your sensibility could be educated. Your own life educates you, well or not. You may have the sensitivity from your cradle.  You may remember your grandparents dancing, listening, playing, and singing Tangos. If you were not so lucky, you can still go to school.

We don’t go to milongas because of a special occasion, a birthday celebration or whatever special. We go to milongas regularly because we like the music and the dancers. What matters for a dancer is the aesthetic experience of dancing. It is important that the music is good and the dancers are good. Of course, the beauty of the place, the lighting, etc. add to the experience. But if what you really appreciate is dancing, you’ll stick to a milonga that offers you what I mentioned first: good music and dancers.

Of course you may like to meet new people, chat, be in a crowd; but you could also find all these experiences outside Tango. We should look for the essence of Tango experience, and that involves the appreciation of the aesthetics of Tango and its dance.

You have to be aware that your level of commitment to Tango, understanding of the art, sensitivity to Tango will affect other participants of the milonga. You can compare it with going to a concert. Is not the same appreciation for the educated in the kind of music performed and not (or mildly) educated. Also, consider that you have to play, because the milonga is a participative event, not one where you merely act as an audience.

Dance is an expression of beauty that is not mainly visual. You discover Tango as a dance through your eyes. Tango has visual components. But the visual beauty of Tango is the manifestation of internal mechanisms that make it possible, not the opposite. It would be wrong to start the construction of your dance from the visual end of it. What we see is the result, the glow of Tango.

Tango is a kinetic experience, with all the sensual aspects the sensations of our body and our partner’s body provoke in us, and an auditory experience. Tango music tells us the way to move in connection to our partner.

It is not Tango if you dance with the goal to be seen.

It is not Tango if you dance with the goal to be seen.
To see is important as a guide. When I watch people dancing Tango at the milongas I let my eyes guide me. They will stop at the couple that dances for each other, to the music that is played, respecting everyone around, assuming a good posture, letting everything fall in place effortlessly, not trying hard, not forcing steps.

The eyes also participate in the way we invite to dance. We look at the person we want to dance with, and patiently wait her to become aware and look back at us.

Patience is indispensable.

Patience is indispensable.

A wrong approach to the building of a Tango community is to give support for reasons that are external to Tango. That is a great mistake, since it lowers the general quality of the dance level, and promotes misinterpretations. We should save our support for those who promote improvement of the dance at the milongas.

Tango is beautiful, honest, humble, great and very real.

There are lots of lies, misunderstandings and misinterpretations surrounding Tango. But the truth comes out in the milongas. Remember that, for me, milonga is a very special name that I do not give to just any gathering where people play music that they believe is suitable to dance Tango, and move in a way they decided to call Tango.
What I would like to do is to pass my knowledge to those who want to continue the lineage of Tango, which is beautiful, honest, humble, great and very, very real.

There is so much to say about Tango that I could be writing forever, but I think that the best is to go dancing, as I will do now.

[1] Characteristics of human being:  a) its unique body.  b) A limited existence in time (to be born and to die).  c) To be consciously aware of it.  All of these three characteristics imply sexuality.

[2] According to Enriqueta Kleinman and Mónica Paz, these are the oldest and the youngest milongueros respectively. Roberto SegarraRicardo “Tito” Franquelo.

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Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Paulita at a milonga in Buenos Aires.

All about Argentine Tango

Marcelo Solis dancing at a milonga in Buenos AiresWhen in an embrace with our partner, we find ourselves in an unfamiliar situation

Having a bigger, conjoined body, with four legs, with different levels of sensitivity among its duplicated parts, but demanding equal amounts of awareness in relation to them.

This is a situation that requires committed and engaged preparation, and lots of practice to be able to, first, become familiar with it, and then, fundamentally, to be able to poeticize it, to make an Art of what, otherwise, is a primordial nature call – the pleasure of being embraced by another human being.

This new body, which we freely agree to conform to, challenges us to abandon the comfortable, mundane refuge of our egos, demanding that we become something else that is not our “self”, but the couple dancing Tango on the dance floor at a good milonga.

This is a very freeing outcome of practicing the dance of Tango, a sense of liberation that can sometimes be disturbing, nevertheless enlightening.

There is a profound wisdom in the ability to dance Tango.

There is a profound wisdom in the ability to dance Tango. A wisdom that you acquire through training, by working on the way you hold your body, the way you move, paying precise attention to detail, developing a sense of awareness and careful respect in dealings with others at milongas, learning to passionately love the music that milongueros dance to, opening yourself up to music that expertly advises you on how to move in every beat.

This wisdom does not stop there. Milongueros, who have been dancing Tango for decades at the best milongas, who are all in Buenos Aires, who have been developing a familiarity with other milongueros, most of them older, listening to them, taking their advice, learning from them, developing a wisdom, a knowledge, which is at the very least hard, if not impossible, and would ultimately not make sense to explain in words.

It is in the dance of a milonguero where you will find his or her wisdom.

It is in the dance of a milonguero where you will find his or her wisdom. To learn to dance Tango, which is to learn all about Tango, is an unspeakable enterprise, in which words act mainly as signs that point you in the direction of what you need to see or feel.

Dancing embraced by a milonguero is where learning Tango begins. The rest is a preamble to it. That is how Tango reached our time in history, communicated from person to person through the embrace of brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, fathers and mothers, grandparents and friends, in homes, at practicas in neighborhood clubs, where experienced dancers danced with and gave instruction and advice to newer ones.

Today, in accordance with the modalities of our present time, private lessons are the only effective way to learn to dance Tango.

Today, in accordance with the modalities of our present time, private lessons are the only effective way to learn to dance Tango, on a regular basis, at least once a week, the more the better. In group classes you learn and train the social aspects of Tango, the “códigos” of the milongas, to move among other couples on the dance floor, practice useful exercises, make friends and start to integrate yourself in the society of Tango. However, not everybody has the same goals regarding Tango, and this is something to keep in mind about group classes.

If your goal is to dance Tango, to become a milonguera or milonguero, private lessons is a must. Even for a leader, learning to lead from another leader is essential.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to learn to dance Tango, you can:

Learn to dance Argentine Tango at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires

How to dance Tango?

Here are my recommendations to help with your goal of learning to dance Argentine Tango:

Open your mind. A dancer sees everything from the point of view of a dancer. While you are developing the dancer in yourself, you will often be wrong in your valuations. Wait. Be patient. Pay attention. Listen. Watch. That is why you need to trust your teachers. If you really like the way they dance, then study with them.

Learn to dance Argentine Tango at Escuela de Tango de Buenos AiresTip 1: Take classes, often. Group and privates.

We, human beings, are social. Nothing happens in isolation. The “internet era” may make us believe that we can do anything without addressing another human being. It is a false assumption. Behind the virtual walls of the .com enterprises there are people.

Any activity that you engage in, requires interactions with other people. The amazing tools that the world wide web and technology in general provide us, only work when they enhance our relationships with other humans: you need someone you care for and who at the same time cares for you.

This is what classes are: your teacher cares for you and you care for your teacher, with respect, affection, good intentions,  mutual generosity and the common shared passion for the Art of Argentine Tango.

Sometimes, when you come to your first class, you may still not have developed a passion for Tango. In that case, your teacher also teaches you to appreciate and give the correct valuation to this amazing Art. Argentine Tango is what connects you and your teacher, and connects both of you to other students and dancers. It connects you to a culture.

In group classes you get to meet a group of other people interested in learning about Argentine Tango. They are there for different reasons. What is yours? If your goal is to become a dancer, to integrate yourself and the Art of Argentine Tango in a new version of yourself, to be transformed, to make of yourself a work of Art, to become a better you, in sum: to be a milonguera or milonguero, you will eventually need to also take private lessons. The sooner you take this step, the better.

Group classes are very useful as long as you also combine them with private lessons.

Group classes are very useful as long as you also combine them with private lessons. In the group class you will learn about the social aspects of Argentine Tango, you will develop relationships that may help you to experience your first milongas, and will find friendship, sympathy and understanding from other people in the same situation.

During private lessons, you can have direct input from an expert on the details that will improve you as a dancer. If you can dance with your teacher during most of the class, you are on the right path. The best way, and maybe the only way to incorporate the many nuanced layers of the Argentine Tango Art is to dance with an experienced milonguero in a private lesson, and do it regularly for a long period of time. You need to be consistent and constant in your development of yourself as a dancer. Avoid gaps and interruptions in your private lessons.  Once a week is the minimum you will need to engage in to see results, but two sessions of two hours each every week is optimal.

Words are sometimes not only unnecessary, but could also get in the way. As well as the best way to learn a language is to talk in this language with a native speaker who is your teacher and who reveals to you the sparks of culture and everyday life present in the words and the grammar of that language, Argentine Tango, which could be partially compared to a language, will be best revealed to you by dancing with an expert dancer in a private lesson setting, where there is time and space to stop when necessary and direct your and your teacher’s attention to what needs it the most.

In a private lesson, words and explanation will appear when necessary to answer your own questions, and learn to see Argentine Tango from the point of view of your teacher, who has been involved in it much longer than you, has been dancing at milongas for long time, and is recognized among his peers from Buenos Aires.

Dancing with your teacher is priceless.

Dancing with your teacher, if he is knowledgeable, reliable, and recognized among his milonguero peers, is priceless, and the only certain way to become an authentic Argentine Tango dancer, a milonguera or milonguero.

Tip 2: Think about Tango. Review details in your mind that are important and make a difference.

You need to integrate movements, attitudes, ideas and emotions into your whole life. That is the way of Argentine Tango.

In every class and private lesson there will be elements learned: posture, walking to the cadence of Argentine Tango music, connection to your partner through the couple’s axis, pivots, ochos, turns, etc.; details pointed out by your teacher: not leaning back, gazing forward and parallel to the floor, touching the inside edge of your shoe to the floor, maintaining your weight on one or both feet, etc.; remarks regarding Argentine Tango music: instrumentation, rhythm, nomenclature, etc.; social aspects of Argentine Tango: line of dance, cabeceo, entering the dance floor, tandas, etc.; the embrace, the way you hold your partner, and many other pieces of information that your teacher shares with you regarding what Argentine Tango is and what dancing means in general.

Review all this in your mind. You need to integrate these movements, attitudes, ideas and emotions into your whole life. That is the way of Argentine Tango.

Tip 3: Practice every day. You do not need to set a time or commit to long practice sessions. Even a little is good. Anytime… all the time: Tango is Life.

Argentine Tango, well danced, looks spontaneous.

Argentine Tango, well danced, looks spontaneous. Such a characteristic is achieved only after lots of practice integrated into your life in a way that does not need to be separated from your everyday activities, from the life that you live everyday: your work and profession, your family, your friends, your outings, your workout, etc.

In Buenos Aires, I practiced my moves while waiting for the bus to go home after class. A student of mine who worked out at the same gym I use to go to, practiced all her tango moves on the treadmill. My grandparents danced in the kitchen, when my grandma was cooking dinner and the radio played a tango they liked. You have infinite opportunities to practice Argentine Tango.

Tip 4: Listen to music from orchestras of the Golden Era. Those recordings have the cadence that you need to incorporate into your moves. Get to know the songs and become familiar with them.

If you know the music very well, you will be at home.

Your goal with learning to dance Argentine Tango is to become a milonguero or milonguero, this is: a person to which dancing Argentine Tango is the spinal cord of his or her life.

You will regularly go to milongas, preferable in Buenos Aires, to the milongas that care about the “codigos”, the nuances in the social aspects of Argentine Tango which enhance and promote the excellence of the dance, below which the quality level makes whatever the people present at that gathering is doing not to be Argentine Tango, independently of what they believe they are doing there.

In the milongas, where quality dancing is the standard, a common element is the music. If you know the music very well, you will be at home.

Develop your own library of Argentine Tango music and create your own playlists, ordering the songs by orchestra, by date of recording, by musicians integrated into these orchestras, by singers, by rhythm, etc. A good exercise is to create a playlist for a milonga. This will challenge you to listen to, acquire, and research each song.

Tip 5: You are passionate about Tango. This is what fuels your growth as a dancer. Focus and direct this passion efficiently.

You dance Argentine Tango to become a better example of a human being.

Sometimes dancing Argentine Tango is regarded as an addiction. This is awfully wrong. Argentine Tango, as Art, as wisdom, is a way for you to become stronger, wiser, more aware and more present. You dance Argentine Tango to become a better example of a human being.

Like a tool, the results depend on how you handle it. Take care of yourself, as well as taking care of Argentine Tango, its past and its future. You can consider Argentine Tango your home. Be conscious of the way you dispose of it, and of the people that share their love for Argentine Tango with you.

Tip 6: Choose your teachers wisely. Search for the roots of this Art.

Keep in mind that you come to class to be educated about Argentine Tango, and not to learn steps.

First, you will need to gather information about what Argentine Tango is and about the instructors in your area.

You may need to go and take some classes with them. Do not ask to observe the class for free. If you watch the class and do not participate you will still learn, so be respectful and appreciative and at least pay for that class. But also, you won’t know much about this teacher in one class, and less if you do not risk to put yourself in there. Remember: what do you know about Argentine Tango? Tango takes many years, even decades to be someway understood. Be humble.

Choose your teacher based on whether you like the way he or she dances, because it awakens a set of indescribable emotions in you that say: “I want to dance like that!”

Always keep in mind that you come to class to be educated about Argentine Tango, and not to learn steps. This should shape your attitude towards the class and what you demand from your teacher.

Tip 7: Go to milongas. You do not need to dance. Start going as soon as possible. Become part of the milonga and then dance.

When the time comes, you will feel ready to dance.

Milongas are a wonderful place, full of positive emotions and attitudes when the crowd is committed to good dancing. Listening to beautiful music, having pleasant conversations, and watching inspiring dancing, are all excellent reasons to be at milongas even if you don’t dance yourself.

When the time comes, you will feel ready to dance. You should not feel any pressure. You are at a party surrounded by good friends. It’s not the same experience if you go to milongas and force yourself to dance the first time, surrounded by strangers.

Tip 8: Go to Buenos Aires. See what Tango is. You only will know it in its context.

Visit Buenos Aires guided by a milonguero.

Visit Buenos Aires guided by a milonguero. If your goal is to master the Art of Argentine Tango, you will achieve a  complete comprehension of Tango only if you become recognized by the community of best dancers there, which we call “milongueros” in a general way, but who are individuals, with a name and a reputation of great dancer. Not anyone who call himself “milonguero” is it. That is why you will need to be introduce by a member of this community.

You do not need to move to Buenos Aires. You can visit Buenos Aires often and go to the milongas where Tango is still lived as a culture, and also, fundamentally, take classes with excellent milonguero teachers, many of whom do not travel abroad, from whom you can receive important insights into the dance, its recent history, its philosophy and way of life.

We are at the edge of missing these milongueras and milongueros forever. It is our last chance. If you care, come to Buenos Aires, seize your opportunity to meet them and take lessons from them, go to the milongas they go to, watch them dance and the way they behave, talk to them. Perhaps one day you will pass all these insights onto a future generation of milongueros.

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Conclusion

Argentine Tango is a way of life in which you make a work of Art of yourself and your life, sharing the beauty you create with other likeminded people, in a community that cares about you but do not demand from you anything other than being beautiful, and the pursuit of that beauty through the practice of dancing.

Tango is a manifestation of what human kind can achieve.

Authentic milongueros, those who love Tango and have dedicated their lives to this Art in such an integrated way that Tango is a synonym of Life, will look at you with sadness if you take Tango superficially, as mere entertainment, as a distraction, because Tango is in essence a way to take hold of your life, to be responsible for yourself and for your peers, and for Tango itself, as a manifestation of what human kind can achieve.

TANGO IS A WAY OF LIFE.
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