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Argentine Tango School

Unlocking the True Essence of Tango: Beyond the Dance Moves

Unlocking the True Essence of Tango: Beyond the Dance Moves

Marcelo Solis, an Argentine Tango Maestro, dances with Mimi in an elegant pose. Marcelo is dressed in a pinstriped suit while Mimi wears a red velvet dress, set against a two-tone green background.

Perhaps you were asking yourself: Why a Tango School?

When I receive a new student in my class, I only know that he or she wants to learn to dance. However, teaching to dance Tango involves not only showing the moves but also giving the student a sense of placement, making him or her aware that you cannot just make any move at any time.

I must give the new students a sense of Tango as a whole and make them understand that they are learning a culture.

I heard someone calling Tango a “sub-culture.” I do not agree. All the elements I have learned while studying Tango are substantial in general society and the broader world culture. I learned the importance of my body as the root of my existence. I learned a lot about my interaction with others and how my happiness or unhappiness affects everybody around me. In sum, I learned that everything I do affects everybody and everything in this world.

I have realized the importance of teaching the beauty of Tango.

In my classes, I teach almost all the elements you may have in your checklist that every Tango instructor claims to teach. Name your favorite element; there is a big chance I teach it.

However, the meaning that the move carries within is more important than the element itself.

A while ago, I attended an event related to Tango. I was chatting with a couple. They told me they took some tango classes. They asked me if I made my students change partners in my classes. I replied that yes, but that it was not obligatory, as I knew many couples liked to remain together during the class.

Then they said they were learning “colgadas” in one class and found it uncomfortable doing “colgadas” with other people.

I told them that learning “colgadas” did not make much sense because if they went to Buenos Aires milongas, they would find out that nobody was doing “colgadas” there.

They were surprised, and, I think, a little incredulous of my assertion. Since they never went to Buenos Aires, they could not tell for sure. But I do.

In my more than 20 years of teaching Tango in the Bay Area (and more than 30 years teaching Tango in Argentina and worldwide), I have discovered that the main obstacle to teaching a new student is to overcome all the previous ideas about Tango he or she brings to the class and change them into understanding what Tango really is.

Now, you are probably asking: What Tango is in reality?

My answer is that tango is what happens in the milonga. And when I say milonga, my image is that of the best of the most authentic milongas in Buenos Aires.

This guides my instruction, which is why, along with others who are after the same goal, we created the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

Embracing the Cultural Roots of Tango

To truly appreciate and master Tango, one must embrace its cultural roots. Tango is a dance that reflects Argentina’s social, historical, and emotional landscapes projected to the world. The music, the lyrics, the movements—all these elements are deeply intertwined with a way of life. Understanding the origins of Tango provides my students with a richer context for their learning journey.

The Role of Music in Tango

Music is the heart and soul of Tango. Each note and rhythm tells a story. To dance Tango, one must connect with the music on a profound level. This means not just hearing the music but feeling it and interpreting it through movement. My students are encouraged to listen to classic Tango orchestras, understand the different styles, and learn to dance harmoniously with the music.

The Social Aspect of Tango

Tango is inherently social. The dance floor is a space where people come together, communicate nonverbally, and share a unique connection. This social aspect is crucial for understanding Tango. Although not obligatory, the practice of changing partners in class helps dancers adapt to different styles and builds a sense of community. It mirrors the social dynamics of a milonga, where dancers interact with multiple partners, enhancing their social skills and empathy.

Technique and Expression in Tango

While technique is essential, expression is what makes Tango captivating. Each movement in Tango should convey emotion and tell a story. This expressive quality sets Tango apart from other dances. I focus on the precision of steps and helping students express themselves through the dance. This balance between technique and expression makes Tango both challenging and rewarding.

Creating an Authentic Learning Environment

For a Tango school to be truly effective, it must recreate the atmosphere of an authentic milonga. This involves more than just teaching steps—it includes fostering a sense of community, encouraging cultural immersion, and promoting the etiquette and customs of Tango. By creating an environment that mirrors the Buenos Aires milongas, my students experience the true essence of Tango.

The Lifelong Journey of Tango

Learning Tango is a lifelong journey. There is always more to learn, refine, and experience. The joy of Tango lies in its endless possibilities for growth and discovery. I instill in my students a love for this ongoing journey, encouraging them to explore, experiment, create, and continually deepen their understanding of the dance.


In conclusion, the essence of Tango lies in its rich cultural heritage, music, social dynamics, and expressive potential. Our tango school aims to impart technical skills and artistic and emotional depth to the dance. By doing so, I offer students a truly transformative experience that goes beyond the dance floor and resonates in their everyday lives.

The creation of the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires is a testament to this holistic approach, ensuring that the true spirit of Tango is preserved and celebrated for generations to come.

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Exploring the Soul of Tango: Lyrics and Dance in the Dance of Passion

Exploring the Soul of Tango: Lyrics and Dance in the Dance of Passion

Marcelo Solis and his brother Carlos enjoying breakfast at an outdoor café in Buenos Aires. Marcelo, on the left, captures the moment with a selfie, featuring his light brown hair and a slight smile. Carlos, on the right, appears cheerful with white hair, enjoying the morning. Their table hosts a delightful breakfast setup with a teapot, coffee, and a visually appealing avocado toast topped with sprouts and cherry tomatoes. The scene portrays a warm, casual family moment.

This article marks the beginning of a series on the lyrics of Tango.

I wish to dedicate it to my brother, Carlos Daniel Solís, who recently passed away on April 28, 2024, at the age of 56. May he rest in peace.

Initially, it is crucial to discuss whether understanding the lyrics of Tango is necessary to dance it properly.

Enrique Santos Discépolo, Argentine Tango composer and author.

It’s important to note that Tango composers have always made a great effort to fuse the lyrics with the melody adequately. A clear example is Enrique Santos Discépolo, known for his meticulousness and who could spend years perfecting a single Tango.

Therefore, we can conclude that the music of Tango aims to resonate with the emotions already expressed in its lyrics and vice versa.

This indicates that understanding every word is not indispensable to feeling its emotional impact. When dancing a tango, we generally do not focus on the lyrics, as it is complicated to pay attention to both the poetry and the technical and emotional elements of the dance simultaneously.

Therefore, if our interest is to delve deeper into the poetry of lyrics, the ideal would be to listen to the tango without dancing. However, knowing the lyrics of a tango before dancing can significantly enrich the interpretation of the dance, not only for that particular tango but also by contributing to our understanding of Tango as a way to appreciate human life, estimating our existence from the assessments of the personalities who lived and were an integral part of this phenomenon called Tango, which had its peak in the 1940s in the Rio de la Plata.

Tango lyrics often reflect the repercussions of pursuing our most extreme desires, warning us about the possible consequences of this exuberant enterprise. From an involved yet distant perspective, like that of a milonga DJ from his booth, they juxtapose feelings of nostalgia and sadness with the lively excitement experienced on the dance floor. These lyrics also explore the belief in a kind of collective fiction, where a community is presumed in which we value each other. This ideal attracts us partly because we fear loneliness. Through Tango, it is possible to perceive the essences and personalities of the dancers simply by observing their movements and bodies in the dance.

Dancing Tango is also an act of pride and mastery. It is not a dance for the shy or guilty; it is not for those who wish to hide. Whoever dances Tango does not necessarily seek to be the center of attention but understands that a good dance will inevitably attract looks. This phenomenon is seen not as a quest for validation but as a gift, an offering of beauty to those spectators who know how to appreciate it without envy or resentment.

It is useful to explore the lyrics that refer to the Tango itself and its dance to deepen one’s understanding of it.

Interpretation of the tango “Que me quiten lo bailao”

Lyrics and music by Miguel Bucino, 1942, in the version of Ricardo Tanturi and his Orquesta Típica, sung by Alberto Castillo, recorded in 1943.

Listen “Que me quiten lo bailao”

“Open hand with men, and upright in any ordeal,
I have two fierce passions: the felt and the liquor…
Dancer from a good school, there is no milonga where I’m surplus,
sometimes I am poor and other times I am a lord.
What do you want me to do, brother? It’s a gift of fate!
The urge to save money has never been my virtue!
The bubbles and women’s eyes electrify me
from those sweet days of my joyful youth!

But I do not regret
those beautiful moments
that I squandered in life.
I had everything I wanted…
and even what I did not want,
the fact is that I enjoyed it.
My conduct was serene,
I was generous in good times
and in bad times, I shrank.
I was a magnate and a vagabond
and today I know the world so well
that I prefer to be this way.

What do you want me to do, brother! I was born to die poor,
with a tango between my lips and in a muddled game of cards.
I play, sing, drink, laugh… and even if I don’t have a penny left,
when the last hour strikes… let them take away what I danced!”

“Que me quiten lo bailao” is a popular phrase in Spanish that expresses the satisfaction of enjoying lived experiences, regardless of future consequences. The lyrics and music of this piece, created by Miguel Bucino, encapsulate this philosophy of life through the lens of Tango.

The lyrics could be interpreted as a celebration of the freedom and pleasure found in Tango dancing, suggesting that once lived, these experiences are inalienable, a personal treasure that cannot be taken away by external circumstances or the passage of time. In the context of Tango, this expression takes on a nuance of defiance and detachment, characteristics resonant with the genre’s emotionally intense and often melancholic nature.

Tango is an artistic expression that allows dancers and listeners to connect with deep emotions, and “Que me quiten lo bailao” serves as an anthem to live fully and without regrets. It reflects a joyful acceptance of all that life has to offer despite its inevitable ups and downs.

A classic image of Miguel Bucino and Tita Merello dancing tango in a scene from the movie

Miguel Bucino, born on August 14, 1905, in San Cristóbal, Buenos Aires, began his musical career playing the bandoneón. At 17, he briefly joined Francisco Canaro’s orchestra in 1923, which dismissed him for being a poor musician and encouraged him to pursue dancing, a vocation for which he showed natural talent. Bucino made his professional debut at the Teatro Maipo in 1925, and his career as a dancer quickly took off. He traveled with Julio De Caro to Brazil in 1927 and toured Argentina with the show “Su Majestad El Tango.” He pioneered dancing Tango at the Teatro Colón in 1929 and continued his career in Europe in 1931, performing in cities like Madrid and Paris. He participated in several theatrical seasons with figures such as Francisco Canaro and Ivo Pelay, teaching Tango to royalty and Hollywood celebrities such as the princes Humberto of Savoy and Edward of Windsor and actors Ramón Novarro and Jorge Negrete.

Although initially unsuccessful as a musician, Bucino excelled as a Tango composer, registering between 60 and 70 works, including hits like “Bailarín compadrito” and “Que me quiten lo bailao”.

Bucino retired in 1942 and died in Buenos Aires on December 15, 1973, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of Tango as a dancer, lyricist, and composer.

Here we could see him dance a tango with the celebrated actress and singer Tita Merello in the film “Noches de Buenos Aires”:

Listening to a tango means interpreting it in a personal way. Tango is felt from within. Our inner selves, with all our experiences, emotions, repressions, and more, listen to that tango, that lyric with music, and recreate it in many ways. Some interpretations become habitual and thus are maintained, becoming like translations of what is said for everyone in what we believe we hear.

Following this idea, which I believe is shared by those who love Tango, I propose a way to understand this tango, although I clarify that I do not seek to be objective or definitive.

This is what my life, my dance, hears in this tango:

The first verse, “Open hand with men, and upright in any order,” suggests a vision of masculinity based on integrity and fairness. The phrase” “open hand” can be interpreted as a symbol of generosity and transparency in relationships with other men, indicating a willingness to treat others justly and without secrecy. On the other hand “upright in any ordeal” highlights the importance of maintaining honorable conduct, regardless of the circumstances. Together, these expressions advocate for masculinity that relies on mutual trust and respect for codes of conduct that ensure equality and dignity among people without resorting to excuses based on external factors such as social position, economy, or biological or psychological conditions. In essence, it proposes an ideal of masculinity that values and promotes nobility in dealing with others, emphasizing personal responsibility over deterministic influences.

The second verse, “I have two fierce passions: the felt and the liquor” clearly illustrates the intensity and commitment with which the character lives his emotions: the cosmic chance against which we pit our will, trying to divert its course to fulfill our desires, using vital enthusiasm as a way to gauge our existence. This line highlights how the character faces that chance and uncertainty of human existence, not with fear or caution, but with an iron will to tilt events in his favor and satisfy his deep desires. The “vital enthusiasm” mentioned becomes his bulwark against mundanity and monotony, using his zest for life to measure and affirm his existence. In this context, the verse not only reflects a statement of affirmation of an orderly life from the ethical and aesthetic value of emotions but also a life philosophy that fully embraces uncertainty and enthusiasm as essential elements of human experience.

The third verse, “Dancer from a good school, there is no milonga where I’m surplus,” speaks to the technical mastery acquired through study and guided practice and reflects the respect and admiration the dancer generates within the Tango community. Essentially, the verse celebrates the achievement of excellence and elegance in dancing, which is only possible through the choice of good mentors and an unwavering commitment to continuous learning. The act of dancing and the milonga are used metaphorically to talk about life in general and how we conduct ourselves in it. Here, “dance” symbolizes how we move and react to the different rhythms and challenges that life presents us. Being a “dancer from a good school” implies having learned and mastered the skills needed to navigate these challenges with grace and competence through individual effort and determination and by choosing “good school”, that is, good guides. The “milonga”, a place where Tango is danced, represents the various situations and environments we encounter in life. Saying “There is no milonga where I’m surplus” suggests that the dancer, thanks to his preparation and skill, can adapt and excel in any context or situation that life presents, never being redundant or inadequate, but always being a valuable addition. This metaphor extends the idea that, just like a Tango dancer trained in a good school, a person who is well-prepared by their experiences and education can effectively face any life circumstance. Achievements and recognition of the dancer parallel the successes that a person can achieve in their personal and professional life when they are well-prepared and can adapt fluidly to different situations, showing that preparation, continuous learning, and adaptability are crucial to success in life, just as they are in dance.

The fourth verse, “sometimes I am poor and other times I am a lod,” reflects the acceptance of the fluctuations of fortune throughout life, recognizing how circumstances can shift between extremes of wealth and poverty. This phrase encapsulates the fact that we cannot always control the external factors that affect our economic and social position. This acceptance is not focused solely on economic reality but on a life philosophy that values other riches that are not material. The phrase indicates that the individual does not measure their worth or success solely through material wealth (“I am poor”) nor allows moments of abundance to define their identity completely (“I am a lord”). Instead, the person adapts and values life and experiences beyond material wealth. Thus, the verse suggests a balanced and mature approach to life, gracefully taking adversity and prosperity, emphasizing the importance of resilience and maintaining dignity and self-respect regardless of economic circumstances. This perspective can be compelling in contexts like Tango, where art and personal expression are often valued more than material wealth.

The fifth verse, “What do you want me to do, brother’s a gift of fate!” expresses an attitude of acceptance toward life’s circumstances beyond our control, viewing them as part of a predetermined destiny or luck that befalls us. This approach reflects a life philosophy that accepts the highs and lows with serenity and gratitude, recognizing that what happens to us, positive or negative, can be seen as a “gift of fate”. This perspective invites us to embrace life as it comes, not resisting the events but receiving them with joy and optimism. By considering events as gifts, it emphasizes the idea that every experience has inherent value, regardless of its apparent nature. This attitude fosters a sense of inner peace and satisfaction and enables facing challenges with greater strength and maintaining a cheerful disposition towards uncertainty.

In summary, this verse distills the essence of living with joyful acceptance and a calm faith that, in some way, what life brings has its purpose and value, teaching us to cherish every moment as an unexpected and often undeserved gift but always meaningful.

These discussions and analyses of Tango lyrics offer a deeper insight into how the dance and its music can serve as a profound commentary on life, personal philosophy, and social interactions, providing not just entertainment but also lessons and reflections that resonate with the emotional and philosophical depths of those who engage with it deeply. The reflections within Tango lyrics like those of “Que me quiten lo bailao” extend beyond the dance floor, weaving into the fabric of life a philosophy that values experience over material gain, personal authenticity over societal expectations, and emotional expression over restrained conformity. This resonates deeply with the Tango community and beyond, illustrating the universal themes of life’s fleeting nature, the richness of lived experiences, and the celebration of the human spirit in the face of life’s uncertainties.

Continuing with the exploration of the lyrics, the verses “But I do not regret / those beautiful moments / that I squandered in life. / I had everything I wanted… / and even what I did not want; / the fact is that I enjoyed it.”

These lines express a profound acceptance and appreciation for life’s experiences, even those that might be seen from a conservative or materialistic perspective as wasteful. This attitude rejects the notion that time should always be spent productively in an economic sense and instead celebrates the intrinsic value of experiences for the wisdom they impart.

This perspective acknowledges that life should not be judged solely by tangible, cumulative outcomes, like money or possessions, but also by moments of happiness and personal fulfillment, regardless of their “economic utility”. By stating that he does not regret those “squandered moments”, the speaker fully embraces his past and the decisions he made, viewing them as essential to his narrative and growth.

This stance also suggests generosity towards oneself and life, a willingness to live fully and unreservedly, and the recognition that each experience, however transient, enriches our being and contributes to the fullness of our existence. By freeing oneself from the pressure to justify every moment of life regarding material gain, the speaker invites us to value life for the quality of its experiences and the emotions it evokes.

“My conduct was serene, / I was generous in good times / and in bad times, I shrank.”

These lines reflect a conscious and balanced approach to the various situations of life. Here, the speaker presents himself as someone who maintains calm and serenity (“My conduct was serene”), suggesting a thoughtful and mature way of handling both times of abundance and adversity.

Being “generous in good times” indicates a willingness to share freely his resources and joys with others. This generosity is material and emotional, reflecting an openness to enjoy and share the good times fully.

On the other hand, “in bad times, I shrank,” which demonstrates a prudent and modest attitude during difficult periods. This phrase can be interpreted as reducing ostentation or expenditure, a restraint in behavior to better cope with times of scarcity or challenge. It does not necessarily imply surrendering or withdrawing completely but rather a wise adaptation to less favorable circumstances.

Together, these verses encapsulate the wisdom of living according to the circumstances, knowing when to extend oneself and when to conserve resources. The speaker understands his capacities and limitations and acts in a way that maintains a sustainable balance throughout his life. This demonstrates a life philosophy that balances generosity and caution, allowing the individual to navigate life’s highs and lows with grace and dignity.

The final lines are: “What do you want me to do, brother? I was born to die poor, / with a tango between my lips and in a muddled game of cards. / I play, sing, drink, laugh… and even if I don’t have a penny left, / when the last hour strikes… let them take away what I dance!”

These lines encapsulate a declaration of acceptance and celebration of life on the speaker’s terms, challenging social norms that value the accumulation of material wealth as an indicator of success and fulfillment.

This passage reveals a deep resignation and yet joy in the lifestyle chosen by the speaker, one that prioritizes sensory and emotional experiences—dancing, music, games, singing—as sources of wisdom, over financial security (“I was born to die poor”), not only accepts but also embraces a life free from the constraints and worries that accompany material wealth, suggesting there are a much deeper richness life’s experiences and in personal authenticity.

The verse “I play, sing, drink, laugh… and even if I don’t have a penny left” reinforces the idea that true happiness, satisfaction, and wisdom come from living fully, joyfully, and without regrets, regardless of financial status. The closing phrase “let them take away what I dance,” is a popular saying meaning that no one can take away lived experiences, emphasizing that what we truly value at the end of our days are those moments lived and the knowledge we have bestowed, not the accumulated wealth.

These verses are a hymn to a life lived with authenticity and passion, a reminder that in the end, when “the last hour strikes,” what counts are the joys, experiences, and wisdom we have gathered, not the money. According to the speaker, life is to be lived fully and with a joyful acceptance of our fate, finding beauty and meaning in art, shared experiences, and the wisdom gained rather than in material wealth.

Each moment thus becomes fully justified.

We can die at peace with our desire, having found our answer to the question of how to live.

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Tango and Buenos Aires: A Living Tradition Evolving with Time

Tango and Buenos Aires: A Living Tradition Evolving with Time

Marcelo Solis and Nestor La Vitola at Argentine Tango Tour to Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is the World Capital of Tango and its birthplace.

I wish to share with you the friendship and appreciation of the milongueros that I am lucky to enjoy. We all feel Tango in our bodies. Each move, each new milonga we go to, each partner we dance with, and each new learning experience reveals that Tango belongs to us, and we belong to Tango. It is a beautiful feeling, and one of the key reasons why Tango is so appealing is its haunting rhythm. However, Tango also belongs to others, to the people we share it with. 

Argentine Tango dancer milonguero Chino Perico with Marcelo Solis at the entrance of a milonga in Buenos Aires in 2023

If we do not pay attention, we may take an egotistic, self-centered, selfish approach to Tango. That would leave us with nothing or with something we may call Tango, but it is not.

Among the others we share Tango with are those who have danced it before us.

Most of them are not with us anymore, but many are still alive and dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires. Would you miss the opportunity to meet them, see them dance, chat with them, and dance with them? If you let it pass you by, it will be a significant loss for Tango, especially for “your” Tango, the one in your turn you will share with those who come after you.

Argentine Tango dancer milonguero Jorge Kero with Marcelo Solis at a milonga in Buenos Aires

Originally published in September 2013, this post celebrated the enduring vibrancy of Tango and the unique cultural fabric of Buenos Aires, the world capital of Tango. At that time, the city was alive with the spirits of several milongueros—veteran tango dancers who had been the custodians of this rich tradition for decades. These seasoned dancers shared their passion and mastery in the milongas (tango dance events) of Buenos Aires, offering a direct link to the historical roots.

As of today, the scene has evolved. While the essence of Tango is deeply embedded in the city’s art, the ranks of these elder milongueros have thinned significantly. The remaining few carry an even greater responsibility: they are not just transmitters of dance techniques but living symbols of Tango’s soul and history. 

The image features three men of different generations, all notable Argentine tango creators and milongueros, posing for a selfie in a room with a red light ambiance. From left to right, Marcelo Solis with gray hair, Blas Catrenau in the center wearing a dark suit and light blue shirt, and Brian Mujica on the right with a buzz cut and black shirt. All three are smiling at the camera, symbolizing a joyful connection across generations within the tango community.

Their presence at milongas has become a rare treasure, offering invaluable experiences to both locals and visitors who seek to connect with the true spirit of Buenos Aires.

Despite the dwindling number of original milongueros, the tango community continues to thrive, driven by a blend of reverence for its origins and a spirited determination to ensure its future. New generations of dancers bring their interpretations and innovations while still drawing on the deep well of tradition that makes the Argentine Tango unique, memorable, and universally admired.

The continuity and change within the Buenos Aires tango scene reflect a broader narrative of cultural preservation and evolution. As the cityscape shifts and modernizes, the Tango remains a steadfast emblem of Argentine identity, celebrated not just in Buenos Aires but worldwide.

Whether you are a seasoned dancer or a curious observer, engaging with this living tradition is a profound way to experience the soul of Buenos Aires.

Each dance, song, and encounter at a milonga offers a heartfelt insight into why Tango is much more than a dance—a way of life that continually adapts, resonates, and inspires.

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Understanding Connection in Argentine Tango

Understanding Connection in Argentine Tango

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi on a colorful chrome light background

Before stepping onto the dance floor for the first song of a tanda at a milonga, introspection becomes key.

My energy and what I bring to my partner shape our dance, influenced by factors like sleep from the previous night, health, nutrition, etc. Tango, to me, is an offering of generosity, a crucial element to forging a deep connection.

Generosity mirrors the joy of giving unexpected gifts to friends, enhancing our bonds. This philosophy extends to Tango. Preparing for a milonga isn’t just about physical readiness but achieving emotional and mental balance. I avoid bringing negative emotions into the dance space, striving instead to share joy and positivity.

Personal grooming and a relaxed approach en route to the milonga are parts of my ritual, symbolizing respect for the event and participants. Connection in Tango starts with self-awareness, feeling grounded, and in tune with my partner’s presence.

I value dancing with those who share a common love for Tango, including students, as it transcends mere instruction, evolving into meaningful friendships. These relationships are based on mutual joy rather than obligation, a principle I emphasize when teaching the concept of connection.

Teaching in small groups or private lessons allows for personalized guidance, focusing on comfort and connection with oneself and one’s partner. Every individual and couple has unique challenges and growth paths, underscoring Tango’s absence of a one-size-fits-all approach.

As an illustration of profound connection, I reflect on Osvaldo and Coca Cartery’s dance at the “Porteño y bailarín” milonga anniversary in Buenos Aires. The audience’s familiarity with each other and the dancers showcases the deep, communal bonds within the Tango community, a testament to the essence of connection in Argentine Tango.

In my next article, I will talk about musicality. For now, I leave you with this concept:

The music is your friend too.

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Mastering the Art of Argentine Tango: A Roadmap to Dance Excellence

Mastering the Art of Argentine Tango: A Roadmap to Dance Excellence

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our beginner class.

Building Your Tango Foundation: The Power of Solo Practice and Musicality

Regular practice incorporating walking, weight changes, pauses, pivots, turns, “paradas” (stops), “calecitas” (merry-go-rounds), and embellishments serves as the cornerstone of your dancing freedom.

The best part? You can enhance these crucial elements without a partner by your side.

But that’s not all. Argentine Tango demands solo dedication in various aspects.

Musicality, for instance, plays a pivotal role in your tango journey.

To hone your musicality, immerse yourself in active listening to Tango music, delving into the intricacies of what you hear.

This newfound understanding will elevate your dancing to new heights.

The forthcoming tips are universally applicable, whether you’re engaged in solo practice or dancing alongside your partner:

1- Enhance Your Walking Skills:

Unlock the Potential in Your Walking Technique Initiate your practice sessions focusing on walking.

Explore four different walking speeds: regular, fast, slow, and very slow.

Begin by mastering the slow pace, allocating 4 counts for each step.

Next, dedicate time to practicing at a regular pace, aligning your steps with each downbeat of the music.

To work on fast-walking skills, engage in what’s commonly referred to as the “corrida.”

This involves walking to a rapid rhythm following a quick-quick-slow pattern or a down-up-down sequence.

Tango invites you to transform your walk – and, by extension, your entire life – into a masterpiece of artistry.

More walking exercises…

2- Change Of Weight:

A ‘change of weight’ is essentially a nuanced form of walking. It takes place in one spot without any physical displacement.

When you begin your dance, consider incorporating at least one change of weight to infuse elegance into your movements. However, avoid excessive changes, as moderation is key.

Here, you’ll discover a selection of exercises aimed at refining and enhancing your ability to execute seamless changes of weight:

Approach these changes with a composed demeanor. When dancing with your partner, your execution of this element should convey a soothing and serene presence to them.

More change of weight exercises…

3- Pauses:

Pauses rank among the paramount components of Tango.

While honing your techniques, actively seek instances where you can incorporate pauses.

For instance, consider incorporating a pause during a salida to the side, also known as a “salida in 2,” as a prime example.

You can make a pause in position 3:

After change of direction:

4- Pivots:

To refine your pivot technique, you can commence with bar exercises.

In the absence of a bar, utilize a chair, preferably one with a high backrest, to assist in practicing forward and backward ochos. Place your hands on the back of the chair for support.

Afterward, push your limits by practicing ochos without relying on the bar or chair for support.

Work on forward and backward ochos with both displacements and without any displacement during your practice sessions.

5- Mastering the Art of Tango Turns: A Guide to Five Essential Techniques

One of the most effective methods for enhancing your turning abilities in Argentine Tango is through chair exercises. These exercises provide an excellent platform for refining your technique and balance, making them valuable to your practice routine. Incorporating chair exercises into your training regimen can significantly improve your turns and elevate your overall dance performance.

Chair exercises offer a controlled environment where you can focus on the precise mechanics of turning. They allow you to work on your posture, balance, and footwork, which is essential for executing smooth and graceful turns in Tango. The support provided by the chair also ensures that you can practice safely and confidently, gradually building your skills.

Find a sturdy chair with a high backrest to get started with chair exercises for turns. Position it in an open space with ample room to move around. Here are some essential exercises you can incorporate:

And exercises involving the 1-2-3 structure of the turns:

Ensure that you practice all exercises in both clockwise and counterclockwise turning directions.

Engage in chair exercises but without the use of an actual chair.

Another element frequently incorporated into turns is the “rulo.”

And “enrosques” movements:

6- Exploring the Technique of “Paradas” (stops):

Developing control over both your own inertia and your partner’s is a crucial skill in Argentine Tango.

A valuable practice method is to challenge yourself to halt your movement at any point within the first five elements previously mentioned.

A classic illustration of stops is the “sanguchito” or “mordida” move:

7- Unlocking the Elegance of the “Calecita” in Argentine Tango

In this element, the follower must align her axis over one of her feet, enabling the leader to maintain a continuous pivot in one direction.

See an example:

8- Elevating Your Tango with Exquisite Embellishments:

A solid foundation in your dance forms the basis for its beauty.

Think of embellishments as a natural expression of your well-honed technique rather than mere add-ons or flashy movements.

It’s crucial to understand that no matter how many embellishments you incorporate into your dance, if your foundational walk is lacking, it will detract from the overall appeal.

Embellishments should seamlessly emerge from the groundwork you’ve laid in your dance practice. They are not isolated tricks but rather an integral part of your dance vocabulary, enhancing the elegance and expression of your movements. So, focus on building a strong foundation first, and let embellishments naturally enrich your dance as an organic extension of your skills.

Here are a few instances of embellishments, starting with “Cepillo” (brush):

“Rulos” (circles):

“Cross and go”:

9- The Art of Musicality:

Elevating your musicality involves actively immersing yourself in the world of Argentine Tango music.

Listen to Tango music now!

Osvaldo Pugliese, Argentine Tango orchestra.

Important Considerations to Keep in Mind:

Embrace regular and mindful practice.

Ensure it fills you with joy. By prioritizing your own enjoyment during practice, you cultivate generosity in sharing this joy with your dance partners and fellow dancers on the milonga and class floors.


Dancing shouldn’t be daunting – It’s a journey of joy, creativity, and self-discovery.

Dancing is your time for amusement, self-expression, and relaxation, a chance to socialize and unwind in a friendly environment. To dance with a sense of freedom and confidence, you’ll need to embrace a challenge greater than Tango itself – the journey of classes and practice sessions.


Prioritize self-care for peak performance in your dancing.

    1. Incorporate stretching and regular exercise into your routine.
    2. Cultivate healthy eating habits and ensure adequate sleep for enhanced dance performance.

To Summarize:

Dancing Argentine Tango offers a path to not only organize your life but also to empower yourself and discover meaningful life goals.

Ultimately, it’s a journey towards making life more beautiful.

Learn to dance Argentine Tango

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