Marcelo Solis bailando con Lola

What is Tango?

What is Argentine Tango?

ine Tango in Buenos Aires with Marcelo solis at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires

“Tango is Life”

What does this sentence mean?

It suggests that those who do not tango don’t know what life is.

Can such a radical thought make sense?

Ask anyone who is involved in Tango, passionately, which is the only way to be involved in it, and that will be the answer.

This attitude in relation to Tango is rooted in the fact that Tango gives you fulfillment, opening you up to the possibility of making your life a work of Art.

In America (North America), people think of Tango as a dance, (always with the prejudice that dance means “performance”, conceived as something put on for a spectator,) perhaps also as a music genre, but the Spanish speaking population of the world knows that Tango is also words, lyrics, poetry, “chamuyo” (for Argentineans).

These are words essential to knowing Tango in all its relevant aspects. Enrique Santos Discépolo, author of many essential tangos, declared that “Tango is a sad thought that is danced”.

Every word in this phrase demands explanations that will never exhaust their meaning. What kind of “sad thought” then, is Tango?

It is looking at the past with the feelings of what went away, and the realization of how little we have left to leave us, too.

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“Jamás retornarás”

“Cuando dijo adiós, quise llorar…
Luego sin su amor, quise gritar…
Todos los ensueños que albergó mi corazón
(toda mi ilusión),
cayeron a pedazos.
Pronto volveré, dijo al partir.
Loco la esperé… ¡Pobre de mí!
Y hoy, que tanto tiempo ha transcurrido sin volver,
siento que he perdido su querer.

Jamás retornarás…
lo dice el alma mía,
y en esta soledad
te nombro noche y día.
¿Por qué, por qué te fuiste de mi lado
y tan cruel has destrozado
mi corazón?
Jamás retornarás…
lo dice el alma mía
y, aunque muriendo está,
te espera sin cesar.

Cuánto le imploré: vuelve, mi amor…
Cuánto la besé, ¡con qué fervor!
Algo me decía que jamás iba a volver,
que el anochecer
en mi alma se anidaba.
Pronto volveré, dijo al partir.
Mucho la esperé… ¡Pobre de mí!
Y hoy, que al fin comprendo
la penosa y cruel verdad,
siento que la vida se me va.”



“You will never return”

When she said goodbye, I wanted to cry…
Then without her love, I wanted to scream…
All the daydreams dwelling in my heart
(all I dreamt of),
fell to pieces.
I’ll be back soon, she said as she left.
A fool, I waited for her… Poor me!
And today, that so much time has passed without her coming back,
I can feel that I have lost her love.

You will never return…
my soul says so,
and in this solitude
I call your name night and day.
Why, why did you leave my side
and so cruel, have you destroyed
my heart?
You will never return…
my soul says,
and, although it is dying,
it is waiting for you incessantly.

How much I begged her: come back, my love…
How much I kissed her, how fervently!
Something told me that she would never return,
as the nightfall
was nesting in my soul.
I’ll be back soon, she said as she left.
I waited for her so much… Poor me!
And today, that at last I understand
the painful and cruel truth,
I feel that life is leaving me.

Osmar Maderna portrait. Argentine Tango musician, composer and conductor.

The lyrics are about love, about a broken heart, an unfulfilled promise and unsatisfied hopes. It is also a view of life from the perspective of realizing that life, and everything in it, goes away: “Y hoy, que al fin comprendo / la penosa y cruel verdad, / siento que la vida se me va.” (And today, that at last I understand / the painful and cruel truth, / I feel that life is leaving me.)

Did Osmar Maderna, one of the authors, know that he was destined to die, suddenly, at age 32, in an accident?

His short life was feverishly productive: a piano virtuoso, a gifted composer, a in-demand arranger, a successful conductor, a great friend, a beloved husband, a passionate amateur aviator… When he left his home, in Pehuajó, a city located 230 miles southwest of Buenos Aires, to start his independent life as a musician in the capital, he asked his brother to tell everyone that he went to buy a bandoneon

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Marcelo Solis Argentine Tango with Sofia Pellicciaro

How can one not be passionate about Tango?

Tango gives you purpose:

to make the world beautiful, starting with yourself, since you are the most accessible, affordable and appropriate canvas to be the experimental field for you to probe into your understanding of beauty, before being accepted by others and daring yourself to go beyond yourself and do whatever you want with it in a world into which you exist, a world populated with meanings that tend to be shaped by prejudices and misinterpretations, by accumulation and overlapping of meanings, gifted, inherited, imposed by others, or simply developed by you to justify some of your beliefs, hide your hypocrisies and/or calm your anxieties.

You will need to probe your creation, your dance, your style, to be refreshing and more meaningful than what is already out there.

That is exactly what it is to be a “milonguera” (a woman who regularly dances tango) or “milonguero” (same for a man).

We, milongueros, decided to accept to live in a world that reproduces the kind of existence described above, where our life is possible not only by our participation in the economy of our societies, by having a job like everyone else, but beyond this primary satisfaction of our elementary needs, we EXIST in accordance with what is beautiful, with “compás y elegancia” (musicality and aesthetic energy efficiency), shaping every manifestation of our being-in-the-world-with-others according to proportions that are the same, that seem, from our human perception, to underlie the universe.

Pythagoras, music, proportions and cosmos.

Pythagoras (495 BC), after researching what notes sounded pleasant together, worked out the frequency ratios (or string length ratios with equal tension,) and found that they had a particular mathematical relationship. The octave was found to be a 1:2 ratio, and what we call today a fifth to be a 2:3 ratio.

All the notes of a musical scale are produced by ratios.

Musical notes and ratios

Same as rhythm can be defined by ratios:

Rhythm defined by ratios

Including the rests -pauses-, essential to dancing Tango:

Pauses, rests, essential to dancing Tango

And the proportions of our bodies:

Vitruvian man Leonardo

Proportions are everywhere:

  • Proportions in clouds

  • Proportions in snails

The artist uses this awareness of proportions as a guide to creation.

Mona Lisa Leonardo

And now, combine all these proportions with another human, who, being of the same species, is also different from you.

  • One of these differences is that we are sexed.
    Being sexed is related to our mortality. We need this duality to preserve our species. And when the raw sensations of our sexuality fade away, only the human embrace -more than anything- still satisfies our need for consolation in the face of the abyss of the infinite void of death, always ahead.

  • How fulfilling to learn about our bodies, about our existence in the world, discipline and train ourselves to extract beauty out of the depths of our lives! How exciting to engage in such adventures in the company of that mysterious being that is so familiar and yet such a stranger! A being that calls us like the mermaids would, with a voice that draws out from our perception all other indicia; which will harmonize with that music, which, in its brave approach, recalls the tragic inevitability of a storm that will take away all our superficial possessions, and leave us only with ourselves, longing for an embrace.

  • In Plato’s “The Symposium”, Aristophanes tells a legend, that the human being was, in its origins, a double being, composed of two entities, of what is today a human body. These creatures offended the gods, so they decided to cut them in half. The beings’ first reaction was to embrace each other.

Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires - Marcelo Solis (Enrosque)

We like to say in Argentina: “el Tango te espera”

(Tango is waiting for you)

This patient waiting is another manifestation of its call, not a call that awakens our curiosity, like the sounds of our cellphones, always buzzing WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and text messages.

It is the call of a challenge, that is not easy to respond to, that is not user friendly, that makes you think, that scares you and pushes you away in the same measure of (if we could quantify it somehow) seduction and attractiveness with which it appears to you.

Do not worry. It’s great to have that feeling! That means you are alive!

Enrique Santos Discépolo
Urban dictionary
Osmar Maderna
Miguél Caló
Martin Heidegger
Roy Hornsby, “What Heidegger Means by Being-in-the-World”
Sigmund Freud
Gilles Deleuze
Michel Foucault
Michel Onfray
Jean Baudrillard
Friedrich Nietzsche
Plato’s “The Symposium”

This article continues…

You can also read this article at Medium

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ine Tango in Buenos Aires with Marcelo solis at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires

To understand the full meaning of a phrase you need to know its context.

You need to know this about Argentine Tango: Buenos Aires is where Tango is at home.

We are going to Buenos Aires to see what Tango really is, how Tango looks in its home.

Come and see it by yourself

Marcelo Solis bailando con Lola en Buenos Aires during his trip

You will 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 if you are met by the community of best dancers there, which we call “milongueros” in a general way, but who are individuals, with names and reputations as great dancers. Not everyone who calls themselves a “milonguero” is one. That is why you will need to be introduced by a member of this community.

Osvaldo y Coca Cartery. Maestros milongueros. Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

In Buenos Aires, we will go to the milongas where Tango is still lived as a culture, and also, fundamentally, to 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 perhaps our last chance. If you care, seize your opportunity to come to Buenos Aires and meet them, take lessons from them, go to the milongas they go to, watch them dance and the way they behave, talk to them.

Come and see Tango in Buenos Aires

Perhaps one day you will pass all these insights onto a future generation of milongueros. This is the ultimate goal of this tour.

Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral as seeing in our Argentine Tango tour to Buenos Aires with Marcelo Solis

We will also visit places of cultural relevance to Tango, to Argentina and to the world, highlighting how this beautiful City, Porteños (the people who live in Buenos Aires), architecture, art, history, cuisine, and way of life are intimately connected to Tango music and dance.

The format of this tour seamlessly integrates you into the life of a Porteño/a, allowing you the opportunity to experience all of the components of Tango from the passionate point of view of a milonguero/a.

Argentine Tango tour to Buenos Aires. Meet Blas Catrenau, great Maestro milonguero

A typical day in Buenos Aires on my tour:

  • Late morning – because nothing starts before a little coffee and facturas… We meet for a City tour and to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
  • Afternoon/Early evening – Classes and practicas with excellent milonguero teachers.
  • Evening – Milongas every night.

*Early mornings and some afternoons are free for private lessons. I highly recommend you take private lessons with a milonguero/a teacher while in Buenos Aires.
Each day we will enjoy lunch at a different location, leaving most of the evenings for snacks and being light to dance. You will be able to purchase food at milongas.

Let’s go!


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?

Dance Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires with Marcelo solis at escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires

What is “Milonga”?

Nowadays the word “milonga” has two meanings:
  1. A particular rhythm and musical genre.
  2. A Tango dance party.

San Francisco Bay Area Milongas. Dance Argentine Tango.

This word evolved from the West African Bantu language, in which “malonga” means “word”, and “milonga” is the plural of “malonga”: “words”

It is hypothesized by historians that the African population of Rio de La Plata used this term in relation to the “payada”, a musical genre in which two individuals compete by playing guitar and improvising verses, asking each other questions. The rhythm of this genre evolved to the rhythm we now know as milonga.

When the dance of Tango appeared, it was a technique of partner’s dance used to dance any danceable rhythm. Waltz was the most popular at the time, but soon the milonga rhythm was identified as a better fit for that particular dance technique.
As this rhythm, and the way of dancing to it, grew in popularity, “milonga” also became the name of the gathering and the place where this dance was practiced. The word “Tango” was initially a synonym of the word “milonga”, and they later became the name of two differentiated rhythms. Tango dance parties and the location where it is danced kept the name of “milonga”, as well as its crowd of participants, “milongueros”.

Milongas, meaning “Tango dance parties”, have been happening for more than 130 years. During this time, milongas developed a set of codes that cultivate efficiency, maximizing the possibility of great dancers appearing, and allowing the continuity of its existence as a precious cultural gem.

At Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires we provide you with a complete Argentine Tango experience, and Milongas (dance parties) are an essential aspect.
Learn more about Argentine Tango and its culture.

Let’s dance! We invite you to enjoy our classes and milongas.

Milongueando with Suzanne at Lafayette milonga. Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

Dancing at a milonga

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