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.
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’.
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.
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
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
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.