Charity Dances

Tango dancing near me

The Charity Dance…What a horrible term!

How about referring to dancing with beginners or less-experienced dancers as ‘Assisting the development of dance’ or encouraging others in their enjoyment of the dance’.

I’m so thankful for those more advanced dancers who were willing to dance with me especially when I first started dancing tango. I certainly (thankfully) didn’t think of those dances as charity dances. It was the main reason that encouraged me to keep dancing and improve. There was the occasional person who would not dance with me, but fortunately, these people were far outweighed by the helpful people willing to foster my enthusiasm.

And still now, the opportunity to dance with someone more experienced or advanced than myself can help my dance immeasurably. It is important that you take onboard the feedback you receive throughout the dance to gain the best opportunities to improve. When I say feedback, that is not verbal feedback but rather the kinaesthetic feedback you receive during every step you take as you dance.

A horrible story. I had a student (and this is not an isolated example) who had a dance with a woman who gave him a ‘score’ at the end of the tanda. The score was two out of ten! Fortunately for him (but not for Tango), the partners in Salsa were more encouraging to him so he no longer dances Tango.

It’s certainly not only men who are discouraged from dancing Tango. There are many women also who are discouraged by men, sometimes inadvertently. It may simply be poorly-timed coaching (e.g. at a Milonga) or making comments that are unfair, especially considering the length at time that person has been dancing.

When dancing with a less-experienced follower, dance within their capability. It should not be about impressing them with how many steps you can do and making them feel inadequate, or verbally telling the follower what to do in order to satisfy your own ego. If you do not have the ability to lead a particular movement and/ or the follower does not yet have the technical ability or experience to perform the movement, don’t do it. If you are unsure about the experience of the follower, keep it simple to begin with. You will soon feel (if you’re listening) what is possible.

Thoughts from a follower…

Generally, when I accept dances from leaders who are in their early learning years, I try to focus on my own technique, posture, balance and use that time to pay more careful attention to the music, to slow down, and to become more conscious of our body movements together. 

I prefer to ask a beginner leader than to be asked and I often try to do this once each time I’m at a milonga. Sometimes though, I do not feel like accepting a dance from anyone who doesn’t have the desire to keep improving their skills or musicality. Each time I dance with someone I always look forward to our connection being a little better than the last time, whether it’s because of the tanda selection or the creativity or the technique. 

Adult dancing Classes Toowong

As with any dance that you have, be present in the dance. It is commonplace for people to be distracted within the dance when the dance does not meet expectations or their looking forward to their next partner. There is always something to be gained from and improved upon with every person you dance with.

Make it happen. Create a connected and positive experience for every partner that you dance with and be totally present within the dance.

What prevented you from not giving up in the early days of dancing Tango? One should remember more often those times when we were first starting out.

What else could you do to encourage others (or not discourage them)?

Elitism in Argentine Tango Dance

Argentine Tango classes near me

Dance should not be about competition or elitism, i.e. only dancing with people in your ‘class’ or at your ‘level’. Oftentimes, people will prefer only dancing with other people at their level and going to great lengths to avoid making contact with others they deem unsuitable. This is such a shame, not only for the development of the dance but for their own potential enjoyment possibilities.

From my experience, sometimes, you will dance with an experienced dancer and it will not be enjoyable, whether that be due to lack of physical connection, an energetic disconnection, you don’t connect to the music or maybe one or both of you are simply having a bad day! On a different day, that dance with the same person to the same music may be fabulous.

On the other hand, oftentimes, you can dance with someone who is relatively inexperienced or just beginning as a Tango dancer and yet have a wonderful experience.

Tango Dancing Lessons Toowong

It’s about and allowing yourself to be totally ‘in the dance’ and coming together with another for a moment in time that may last just a few minutes. Your attitude together with your willingness to fully give yourself to the dance will largely dictate the quality of the dance.

Men, Listen with your body! Be aware of the lady’s axis, the position of her weight, her response to your movement and accompany her.

Women, be open to possibilities and allow your body to feel what is invited by the man without any preconceived ideas or expectations and without concern of making a ‘mistake’.

My Journey in Tango

argentine tango in kelvin grove

Imagine……… the music starts, you take a woman in your arms (or a man if that’s your thing!) and you start to move, as if you are one. Every move you make is met with a response from your partner just like in a conversation. Your hearts beating in unison, your legs entwined and hooked together as you move silently across the floor, it’s just you, the music and the floor on which you dance. It’s as though you are the only two people on the floor. The music ends, and that bliss which is Tango ends, until the next song starts to play.

argentine tango in kelvin grove

I first discovered Tango whilst on holidays in Seattle, USA. At the time I was walking home from a ballroom dance (a style of dance that at that stage, I spent many hours per week dancing) and heard music that was kind of familiar but different. Following the music, I found a group of people dancing Argentine Tango, a dance form unlike anything I had seen before. It’s funny how one can be involved in the world of dance and be totally unaware of other dance forms. The passion and connection created within the dance grabbed me and I quickly enrolled in local Tango classes. Three weeks later, I was back in Australia and eager to continue my journey in this new dance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy finding suitable teachers and nearly gave up hope. Luckily, I found my first Tango mentor in Brisbane and then later continued my development as a Tango dancer in Sydney. My love of the dance continued to grow as I found myself dancing many times every week. Tango now takes me to different parts of the world to attend festivals as a means of continued development and enjoyment. The journey continues.

As the name suggests, Argentine Tango started in Argentina (although Uruguayan’s may argue that) and was first danced in the 1890’s.  The dance originated in lower-class areas of Argentina. It would often be practiced between men before going to brothels to dance with women.

During the early part of the 20th century, the Tango found its way to Paris and soon after, London and Berlin. This is when Tango gained popularity with the upper classes.

Tango has had a chequered past in Argentina with restrictions in the 1930’s and then suffering another decline in the 1950’s as a result of economic depression and the banning of public gatherings. On each occasion, however, Tango has recovered and in 2009 was declared part of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO. Today, thousands of tourists visit Argentina every year to experience Tango at its home and also to develop their own Tango.

Argentine Tango includes 3 different dances, Tango, Vals and Milonga, each with their own unique rhythms.  Within Argentine tango there are also various styles that you may hear people refer to.  Styles are as unique as dancers and I think it’s rather foolish to try to categorise either. Broadly speaking, Tango may be danced in a ‘close embrace’ where the torsos remain in contact throughout the dance or ‘open embrace’ where the embrace will be opened during the dance to allow more complex figures. As with any art form, Tango continues to evolve with new generations of musicians and dancers adding their own interpretations.

Tango is danced at social gatherings called Milonga’s (different to the Tango dance form named Milonga) whereby it is common for a couple to dance a series of 3 – 4 songs (called a tanda) followed by a short break of 20 – 30 seconds (called a cortina) before inviting another partner to dance the next “tanda”. Unlike some dance forms, it is most common for people to dance with a wide variety of people during a milonga. For an example of a milonga go to

Any form of dance is a great creative outlet as well as a means of socialising and increasing activity. Creatively, it allows you to express your personality freely without the restrictions some people may feel in life generally. It is a valuable skill to have from a social standpoint as it can help you to experience different cultures around the world whether that be through the dance itself or in meeting new people. It is also a great skill to have at social functions such as weddings and other celebrations. The benefits of dance for fitness include improving strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness (depending upon the vigour with which you dance). Posture, balance, agility and co-ordination can also be improved making it a valuable activity for people of all ages.

I continue to be amazed at the effect that Tango has on people. I have encountered many people who after ‘discovering’ Tango, have found themselves living in Argentina for 3+ months. So beware, Tango is addictive.

Tango can now be found in most cities throughout the world as well as a lot of smaller towns. Most cities will have a website with information on where you can dance Tango in that particular city.

As a beginner dancer, I was not very good, certainly not a ‘natural’. I struggled with most aspects of the dance but through persistent effort, became more accomplished. When I now hear people say, “I couldn’t do that” or “I’ve got two left feet”, I shake my head because I know that in by far the majority of cases, it is possible to become an accomplished dancer and enjoy the many benefits of dancing. I look forward to seeing you sometime on a dance floor somewhere.