The Origins of Libertango

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Perhaps one of the most innovative tangeuros was Argentine composer, bandoneon player and arranger Astor Piazzolla. He became a revolutionary in the tango world when he incorporated jazz elements and classical music into his music. This new style was termed nuevo tango (new tango).

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One of his greatest hits is ‘Libertango,’ composed in 1974. Just a year before that, Piazzolla suffered a heart attack and shortly after, he moved to Italy. ‘Libertango’ came about after Piazzolla’s European agent pressured him to compose “airplay-friendly” pieces. While in Milan, Piazzolla recorded and published ‘Libertango.’ Europeans gladly accepted the tango and it ultimately symbolized his break from classical tango. The title is a portmanteau of the words “libertad” (Spanish for liberty) and “tango,” a symbol of his break from classical tango.

Even before ‘Libertango,’ Piazzolla was fond of blurring the lines between tango and other forms of music. In the 1950s, while in Paris, Piazzolla abandoned his bandoneon, believe classical music was his destiny. It was Nadia Boulanger, the most renowned educator in music at the time, who set Piazzolla back on the right track. He played his tango ‘Triunfal’ for her and Boulanger advised him that the “true Piazzolla” is in his tango and to never leave it behind.

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In 1955, Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires to start a band comprised of two bandoneons, two violins, double bass, cello, piano, and an electric guitar. Producing works which broke away from the original mold of orquesta tipica resulted in plenty of negative criticism from the most traditional of tangueros. The band would eventually break up and Piazzolla tried the jazz-tango experiment in the United States, where it was ill-met.

In 1971, Piazzolla formed Conjunto 9, an electronic and rock-and-jazz style nonet. ‘Libertango’ was created in the middle of the Conjunto 9 years. The group would disband by 1978 and ‘Libertango’ was one of the pieces that survived Piazzolla’s return to his earlier sound.

‘Libertango’ begins with a fast, lively piano solo with bass. Piazzolla and his bandoneon carry the rest of the piece, growing faster three quarters of the way through. The piece is considered to be one of Piazzolla’s pure concert tangos for its compact and dynamic composition.

While originally an instrumental piece, the Argentinian poet Horacio Ferrer added lyrics in 1990 with freedom as the theme. Piazzolla and Ferrer began extensively collaborating in 1968. Together, they composed the operita ‘Maria de Buenos Aires,’ thus creating another new style, the tango song.

The legacy of ‘Libertango’ lives on in global popular culture, even long after Piazzolla’s passing in 1992. American cellist YoYo Ma played ‘Libertango’ on his 1997 album, Soul of the Tango: The Music of Astor Piazzolla and in 2002, the Australian-British string quartet featured the song on their album Shine. Although, arguably one of the most popular reiterations of the tango is Jamaican singer Grace Jones’ 1981 song ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango).’ The tango, played in contrast to a reggae arrangement, also features lyrics by Jones about the dark side of Parisian nightlife.

You Can Dance Often Without Improving

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In all aspects of life, whether that be relationships, finance, spirituality, fitness or skills such as dancing Tango, you are either improving/ moving forward, or declining/ getting worse. There is no standing still.

With regard to dance, practicing basic technique pays huge dividends in your overall development. Just 6 minutes a day is enough to continue your improvement. The consistency is the key.

Another suggestion is to practice for at least 6 minutes before you go out dancing socially. From this pre-milonga Tango practice, you can choose one to two things that you can focus on at the milonga. This pre-milonga practice also helps to ‘set’ your axis and increase your body awareness.

The purpose of your practice is to allow you to dance with great technique unconsciously. It is very difficult and inefficient to consciously ‘think’ your way through movement. Practice is the time to think and analyse your movement and then when it comes time to dance, Just Dance!

Competitive instincts are far stronger than technique, i.e. in a social environment, you will do whatever you have to do to manage your way through the dance. This is not always good in your overall development as a Tango dancer. It is therefore, important to be ‘ready’ to dance in a non-controlled environment, otherwise, it can negatively impact your development. It is therefore important to maintain a suitable balance of practice and social dancing. Learning to dance at Milongas is very much a hatchet way of developing your dance. As Keiran Perkins once said, “The result is the easy part. Swimmers don’t train 40 hours a week just to get fit; you can do that in 1/3 of the time. The hours are put in week after week to ensure that at the exact moment when you are under pressure, you’re tired and physically and emotionally drained, your worst habit is perfection.” Now, I realize that you dancing Tango and Kieran Perkins competing at an elite sporting level are different in many ways, however, the concept of preparation is the same. Practise basic movements such as walking, ochos, and molinete continually so that it is difficult not to do it well in any situation.

For optimal rate of improvement, a separate set of eyes can have great affect. If you want to do it alone, it may take 15 years to reach the level of proficiency you aspire to whereas with the help of a coach/ teacher, you may cut that down to 5 years. Tango lessons can therefore be invaluable in your overall development.

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In summary, the legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. “Because, I think I‘m making progress,” he replied.

Anibal Troilo, The Man Behind ‘The Troilo Sound’

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“The Troilo Sound” in tango is described as “a rich, fluid approach to the tango which juxtaposed staccato and legato figures.” The man responsible for this is the Argentine musician Anibal Carmelo Troilo (nicknamed ‘Pichuco’), who is considered a tango pioneer.

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Troilo was born on July 11, 1914 in Buenos Aires and, at an early age, was spellbound by tango. When he was 10 years old, he persuaded his mother to by him his own bandoneon after hearing its sound in cafes all over his neighborhood. Troilo’s first performance for an audience was at age 11, on a stage near a noisy fruit and vegetable market. Troilo’s mastery of the bandoneon is hailed as one of the best ever. He played the instrument for a number of orchestras including the sextet led by the violinist Elvino Vardaro and the pianist Osvaldo Pugliese. Later, he became part of a larger orchestra with the violinist Julio De Caro, to participate in a contest. Troilo also joined Cuarteto del 900, with the accordeonist Feliciano Brunelli, Elvino Vardaro and the flutist Enrique Bour.

In 1937, Troilo assembled his own orchestra and by the 1940s, was one of the most influential figures in Argentinian music. He had an eye for talent and people like Astor Piazzolla, bassist Kicho Diaz and singers Francisco Fiorentino, Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz and Roberto Goyeneche are just some of the other tango legends that played for him.

As a musician, Troilo has been described as “a master of personality and feeling in his expression.” He was usually seen playing his bandoneon bent slightly forward, eyes closed and chin hanging. Troilo once remarked, “It is said that I am very often moved and that I cry. Yes, it is true. But I never do these things for trivial reasons.”

As an orchestra leader, it’s been said of Troilo, “He dug an undoubtedly tango style, balanced, without [histrionics] and of undeniable taste. He knew how to choose the best players according to his musical ideas, he selected good singers, who beside him achieved their best, to such an extent that when they left the orchestra, only partially and for a short time could they reach a similar level. He also knew how to choose a repertory without having to accept the conditions suggested by the recording companies.”

Troilo also set the foundation for the “nuevo tango”(“new tango”) movement in the 1950s popularised by Piazzolla. His orchestra worked with singers like Alberto Marino, Floreal Ruiz, Edmundo Rivero, Jorge Casal, Raúl Berón, Roberto Rufino, Ángel Cárdenas, Elba Berón, Tito Reyes and Nelly Vázquez. Musicians who played under him also became band leaders of their own, such as Orlando Goñi, José Basso, Carlos Figari, Osvaldo Manzi, Osvaldo Berlingieri and José Colángelo.

His instrumentals, particularly those with Florentino, are a favourite of contemporary tango salons (milongas) for social dancing. Troilo continued to make recordings until his death on May 18, 1975. The poet Adrian Desiderato said of Troilo’s death, “It was on an eighteenth day of May when the bandoneon happened to let Pichuco fall from its hands.”

The Origin of ‘Adios, Nonino’

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One of Astor Piazzolla’s most definitive works is ‘Adios Nonino (Farewell, Granddaddy).’ The tango was created by the Argentine composer as a way of saying goodbye to his father, who passed away in 1959. At the time, Piazzolla was on a tour of Central America when he heard news of his father’s death due to a bicycle accident. Dancer Juan Carlos Copes, who was with Piazzolla at the time, said it was the only time he had ever seen the composer cry.

Piazzolla, overcome with depression from the death of his father, his tour’s failure, and financial problems, went to New York, where he put together the piece.

His son, Daniel, spoke of this time, “Dad asked us to leave him alone for a few hours. We went into the kitchen. First there was absolute silence. After a while, we heard dad playing the bandoneon. It was a very sad, terribly sad melody. He was composing ‘Adios, Nonino.’”

The song was based on an earlier tango, ‘Nonino,’ which Piazzolla composed in Paris in 1954. He kept the rhythmic part, but added a long, melodic fragment with touching notes. Twenty years after it was published, Piazzolla said, “Perhaps I was surrounded by angels. I was able to write the finest tune I have written. I don’t know if I shall ever do better. I doubt it.”

Piazzolla’s parents, Vicente and Asunta, were of Italian descent and Astor’s daughter, Diana, called her grandparents by the traditional Italian names for Grandpa and Grandma–Nonino and Nonina. It was his father who pushed Astor towards music. The family had moved to New York and young Astor had been expelled from school for fighting. Vicente gave his son a bandoneon as a gift after seeing it a pawn shop.

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The eight-year-old Astor was not keen on the gift. In one interview, he said, “[My father] brought it covered in a box, and I got very happy because I thought it was the roller skates I had asked for so many times. It was a letdown because instead of a pair of skates, I found an artifact I had never seen before in my life. Dad sat down, set it on my legs, and told me, ‘Astor, this is the instrument of tango. I want you to learn it.’ My first reaction was anger. Tango was that music he listened to almost every night after coming home from work. I didn’t like it.”

The fact that Piazzolla wrote such a melancholic tango so far from his home during hard times, ‘Adios, Nonino’ has become a symbol of the Argentine diaspora. Argentines arrived primarily in the 1960s, searching for better economic opportunities, but it was the 1970s military upheaval that caused many of them to migrate.

Piazzolla refused to have any words set ‘Adios Nonino,’ but he finally conceded in the 1980’s when Argentine singer Eladia Blasquez played him a tape of her singing lyrics she wrote herself.

Below is an English translation of the lyrics:

From a scintillating star

he will signal me to come,

by a light of eternity

when he calls me I will go.

To ask him for that child

that I lost with his death,

that with Nonino he went…

When he tells me come here…

I’ll be reborn … because…

I am…! the root of the country

that modeled with its clay,

I am…! blood and skin,

of that Italian who gave me his seed…

Good-bye Nonino…

how long the road

will be without you

Pain, sadness, the table and the bread…!

and my good-bye…Ay…! my good-bye,

to your love, your tobacco, your wine.

Who, without pity, took half of me,

when taking you Nonino….?

Perhaps one day, I also looking back…

will say as you, good-bye… no more bets…!

And today my old Nonino is a part of nature.

He is the light, the wind, and the river…

this torrent within me replaces him,

extending in me his challenge.

I perpetuate myself in his blood, I know.

And anticipate in my voice, his own echo.

This voice that once sounded hollow to me

when I said good-bye… Good-bye Nonino.

I am…! the root of the country

that modeled with its clay,

I am…! blood and skin,

of that Italian who gave me his seed…

Good-bye Nonino… you left your sun in my destiny.

your fearless ardor, your creed of love.

And that eagerness…Ah..! your eagerness,

for seeding the road with hope.

I am your honeycomb and this drop of sunlight

that today cries for you Nonino

perhaps the day when my string is cut

I will see you and I will know there is no end.

Why Yoga is Good for Tango Dancers

Benefits of Yoga for Tango

What does Yoga have to offer Tango dancers?

Yoga is widely known to be highly beneficial to everyone in general. But in this article, let us focus on the positive effects it has on Tango dancers.

Dancers rely heavily on three things: coordination, balance and mobility. These are essential ingredients that enable dancers to dance freely and in control, and yoga can enhance these significantly.

Stamina for Tango

Yoga postures boost static strength in general. On the other hand, a dynamic class such as Ashtanga improves stamina. During arduous physical activities, we learn the deep breathing technique through the nose. You will find it extremely useful when executing difficult dance routines as well.

Mobility for Tango

Benefits of Yoga for TangoThe ability to move or to be moved freely is called mobility. When muscles lack flexibility, they hinder the movement of the joints. In order to become more agile, regular stretching is the easiest way to improve agility. It prevents muscle strains, as well as joint and muscle damage. With yoga, dynamic movements, strengthening posture and static stretches are combined to enhance overall mobility.

Maintenance of Joints

No matter how active your lifestyle is, regular stretching and recovery play a large role in performing at your optimal level. When you make yoga a part of your routine, your joints will start to move more freely and can function well with less likelihood of feeling any kind of pain. For Tango dancers (or any dancer in general), it’s important to be able to move freely without limitation or pain.

Coordination for Tango

Consciousness is a crucial part of training our coordination skills. We gently shift into postures and spend time in each posture to enable our minds to find our centre and to maximise our senses and feel every stretch of our muscles and joints in that position. Compared to everyone else, including those who practice other sports, dancers tend to find it easier to learn and execute asanas. This does not come as a surprise however, as dancers are more aware of their bodies because of the constant practice of coordination through dancing. Hence, yoga and dancing are mutually beneficial to each other.

If you haven’t tried yoga, it’s about time you give it a shot too!

Whilst dancing expresses the soul’s creativity and emotions, yoga identifies the inner self through breathing, mind focus and movements. Tangueros should definitely try it! Yogis should try dancing too. There are benefits in both directions.

The Origin of Por una Cabeza

One of the most popular of Carlos Gardel’s tangos is “Por una Cabeza”. Written in 1935, the song’s title is originally a horse racing term “to lose by a head”. It was co-written by Alfredo Le Pera, just shortly before they were both killed in a plane crash in Columbia on 24 June 1935. The lyrics bemoans a man’s life as it compares losing the horse race to losing with women.

The complete lyrics of the song in Spanish along with its English translation was provided by the late Alberto Paz and his wife Valerie Hart on their website Planet Tango.

In 1935, the song was sang in the movie “The Tango Bar” by Carlos Gardel himself. It’s a fun and entertaining movie to watch even for those who do not understand Spanish because of its humour that is easy to follow.

Por una Cabeza

Songwriters: Carlos Gardel / Alfredo La Pera


Por una cabeza, de un noble potrillo

Que justo en la raya, afloja al llegar

Y que al regresar, parece decir

No olvides, hermano

Vos sabes, no hay que jugar


Por una cabeza, metejón de un día

De aquella coqueta y risueña mujer

Que al jurar sonriendo el amor que está mintiendo

Quema en una hoguera

Todo mi querer


Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura


Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir


Cuántos desengaños, por una cabeza

Yo juré mil veces no vuelvo a insistir

Pero si un mirar me hiere al pasar

Su boca de fuego

Otra vez quiero besar


Basta de carreras, se acabo la timba

Un final reñido ya no vuelvo a ver

Pero si algún pingo llega a ser fija el domingo

Yo me juego entero

Qué le voy a hacer

Por una cabeza, todas las locuras

Su boca que besa

Borra la tristeza

Calma la amargura


Por una cabeza

Si ella me olvida

Qué importa perderme

Mil veces la vida

Para qué vivir


Only By a Head (English Translation)

By only a head of

a pureblood race colt

that just on the finish

had slowed down to shamble;

and upon riding back

it seems to be saying

forget not this brother,

you know that you shouldn’t gamble


By only a head I

was love struck at first sight

with that one coquettish

and cheerful dame

who by pledging with a smile

a love that she’s lying about

she burns all my love

in a blazing flame



By only a head were

all of the follies;

her lips when she’s kissing

the sadness are dismissing

the sourness make jolly

By only a head that

if she forgets me

won’t matter if I lose

my life that hurts me;

what is there to live?


Lots of disappointments,

by only a head all

thousand times I swore that

I won’t fall for this

but each time a passing

look off my feet sweeps me

her burning lips, once more,

I want to just kiss


I’m done with the race tracks,

I’m quitting all gambling

a dead heat I don’t want

to ever watch again

but if a young filly

looks sure bet on Sunday

I’ll gamble all I have,

what can I do then!


Argentine Tango Carlos Gardel“Por una Cabeza” is an easy song to dance tango to because of its slow and clear rhythm. Because of this, it become one of the most popular songs played by almost all of the major orchestras during the 1940’s and 50’s.

Even to this day, “Por una Cabeza” is still widely used, especially in Hollywood. In fact, it appeared in numerous scenes in the following movies:

  • Scent of a Woman (1992) – The song was performed by “The Tango Project”, consisting of William Schimmel (accordion), Michael Sahl (piano) and Stan Kurtis (violin). The band also appeared in the scene along with Al Pacino.
  • Schindler’s List (1993) – it suited well with the implication of Oskar Schindler’s “addiction” to women
  • True Lies (1994) – Arnold Schwarzenegger dances to it twice – the first time was with a female spy and second was with his character’s wife.
  • Frida (2002) – it was heard on a radio sung by Gardel
  • Bad Santa (2003, Uncut version)
  • All the King’s Men (2006)
  • Easy Virtue (2008) – Colin Firth and Jessica Biel dances to it sensually
  • Planet 51 (2009)


During the tango scene in True Lies, it was discovered that Arnold had two left feet and fought to dance even the simplest of steps so most of the scenes were of him dancing tango from the waist up.

The Origin of La Cumparsita

Gerardo Matos Rodriguez

Would you believe a 17-year-old composed one of the most recognizable and most recorded tangos of all time? That’s what happened in 1916, when teenager Gerardo Hernan “Becho” Matos Rodríguez had his friend Manuel Barca show Orchestra Roberto Firpo his music.

In his own words, Firpo said of that fateful evening on February 8, “One night at The Giralda, a famous and classic cafe in Montevideo, a young boy–likeable but somewhat timid–approached me and asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes… He left a very modest score with me. It was ‘La Cumparsita.’ I played it on the piano and liked it. After some adjustments to the score I released it with extraordinary success, as much due to the fact that it was a great tango as the fact that its author was a boy of Montevideo. When I returned to Buenos Aires, I released it in the cafes, and Montevideo’s success was repeated.”

Gerardo Matos RodriguezRodriguez was born on April 25,1948 in Montevideo, Uruguay and was the son of the owner of the popular local cabaret Moulin Rouge. He was studying architecture around the time he composed ‘La Cumparsita,” which he wrote on the piano of the Federación de Estudiantes of Uruguay. The tango, whose title translates to “the little parade,” was first played in public in the old Café La Giralda in Montevideo, where the Museum of Montevideo now stands.

Several months after first reading the music, Firpo, in November of 1916, recorded the song for Odeon Records. It was, however, recorded as a B-side and received little success. For many years it was forgotten until on June 6, 1924, at the theatre “A Program of a Night Club.” Each play set their scenes to forgotten tangos and one in particular, involved Juan Ferrari, Enrique Maroni and Pascual Cortusi adding words to ‘La Cumparsita.’ They renamed the song ‘Si Supieras’ (‘If You Know’) without consent from Rodriguez. This version immediately became a hit.

Rodriguez learned of the song’s popularity through orchestra leader Francisco Canaro while they were in Paris. Canaro himself played ‘Si Supieras’ and told Rodriguez, “I told him how it had resurged again and how it was the rage by all orchestras; that Paschal Contursi and Enrique P. Maroni had composed a very pretty scene and adapted to the score and that Carlitos sang it to Gardel with extraordinary success”

What followed was two decades of court battles over royalties. Rodriguez was able to have the song revert its title to ‘La Cumparsita.’ Canaro came up with a binding agreement in 1948, putting an end to the lawsuits. The estates of Contursi and his business partner Enrique Maroni would get 20 percent of all royalties, while the remaining 80 percent would go to the estate of Rodriguez. Future sheet music prints would show lyrics in addition to Rodriguez’ original, lesser known ones.

The original version by Rodriguez:
La cumparsita
de miserias sin fin desfila
en torno de aquel ser enfermo
que pronto ha de morir
de pena.

Por eso
es que en su lecho
solloza acongojado
recordando el pasado
que lo hace padecer.

The little masquerade
of endless miseries parades
around that sickly being
that soon will have died
of shame.

That’s why
on his (death) bed
he sobs, grieving
remembering the past
that causes him this suffering.

Maroni and Contursi’s version:

Si supieras,
que aun dentro de mi alma,
conservo aquel cariño
que tuve para ti…
Quien sabe si supieras
que nunca te he olvidado,
volviendo a tu pasado
te acordaras de mi…

Los amigos ya no vienen
ni siquiera a visitarme,
nadie quiere consolarme
en mi afliccion…
Desde el dia que te fuiste
siento angustias en mi pecho,
deci, percanta, que has hecho
de mi pobre corazon?

Sin embargo,
yo siempre te recuerdo
con el cariño santo
que tuve para ti.
Y estas en todas partes
pedazo de mi vida,
y aquellos ojos que fueron mi alegria
los busco por todas partes
y no los puedo hallar.

Al cotorro abandonado
ya ni el sol de la mañana
asoma por la ventana
como cuando estabas vos,
y aquel perrito compañero
que por tu ausencia no comia,
al verme solo el otro dia tambien me dejo.

If you knew,
that still within my soul,
I keep the love
I had for you…
Who knows, if you knew
that I never forgot you,
returning to your past,
you would remember me…

The friends do not come
not even to visit me,
nobody wants to console me.
in my affliction…
Since the day you left
I feel anguish in my chest,
tell me, woman, what have you done
with my poor heart?

I always remember you
with the holy love
that I had for you.
And you are everywhere,
piece of my life,
and those eyes that were my happiness
I search for them everywhere
and I can’t find them.

To the abandoned bedroom
now not even the morning sun
shows through the window
the way as when you were there,
and that little dog [our] partner
that because of your absence would not eat
on seeing me alone the other day also left me.


Tango Reborn

Argentine Tango near me

The rebirth of tango, or more popularly referred to as The Tango Renaissance, started in 1983 right after the fall of the military junta in Argentina. Suddenly, Buenos Aires basked in a joyful atmosphere and everyone was in the mood to dance as though an actual veil had been lifted off them. All dance and martial arts classes were filling up all over the city. People wanted to learn Tango all of a sudden when they realised that it’s all right to take pride in being Argentine again. And what better way to demonstrate this pride than to take part in Tango, Argentina’s symbol to the world.

Argentine Tango near meHowever, there had been some setbacks at the start. One of which is that there was no tradition of teaching Tango and that there had been no Tango classes for beginners during its Golden Age. There were virtually no teachers and no standard practices being followed. There was an incessant hunger for mentors that needed to be fed.

To address this unrelenting need, dancers started giving tango classes for those wanting to learn the dance. This is the same scenario everywhere in the world since Tango re-emerged in 1983. People taught not because they thought they were gurus and knew everything but because people asked them to. Aspiring dancers learned tango through going to classes and travelling to Europe. Very few were experienced dancers.

At the beginning of the Tango Renaissance, the first teachers in Buenos Aires were young dancers who didn’t know much about tango. Those who were dancing during the Golden Age did not dance anymore and those who did had been suspicious of strangers. So the first people who danced were newbies. Those who haven’t danced tango or haven’t danced with someone in the Golden Age. One problem was that “teachers” weren’t really teaching tango. Most of what they taught were only things that they had made up on their own.

Eventually, people who had danced in the Golden Age started dancing again after 3 decades of not dancing Tango. Thankfully, they re-discovered their passion for Tango and developed a desire to teach Tango to the new generation of dancers. Miguel and Nelly Balmaceda have played a vital role in re-establishing Tango during the renaissance era. For as much as they could, they tried to stick to the traditional way of teaching tango when organising their beginners’ classes. They only allowed students to dance with teachers until they thought they were ready. Even then, they still had to dance the most basic steps only. Many of today’s most prominent tango dancers were trained by Miguel and Nelly or trained by someone trained by them.

Complex dance steps ruled in the Tango Renaissance. There was an astounding excitement to doing these complicated steps especially when combined with the techniques of traditional Tango. It enhanced the emotional connection that defines the true essence of the dance.

Antonio Todaro was one of the most famous teachers of the renaissance period of tango. He was one of the few who danced Tango before the military regime started. He created challenging steps, incorporating it with the technique of the Golden Age. He frequently toured Europe and taught many of the professional tango dancers we know now. Shortly after his death in 1993, young dancers in Buenos Aires began to steer away from the steps he popularised. A few other dancing styles emerged in the following years.

The dancing of the people who were around during the Golden Age remained the same as they could still go to milongas in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and dance the complicated steps in its most authentic manner. However, by 1995, styles such as “Club Tango” or “Milonguero”, “Short Steps” and “Close Hold” dominated the dancing style of the people who were part of the Tango Renaissance in Buenos Aires.




Argentine Tango near me

Tango Classes Brisbane

It’s deep connection with self and another, it’s cerebral and completely free of mind, it’s masculine and feminine. It’s sensual. It’s physical. It’s movement meditation. It’s tango. Come give yourself this lifetime gift…

For those who have not been stung by the Tango Bug yet, or those who have tried it but lost interest, this probably sounds exaggerated or foolish, even. But allow me to change your mind.

More often than not, what comes to mind when people hear ‘Argentine Tango’ is ‘Dancing With the Stars’ or Al Pacino’s tango scene in ‘Scent of a Woman’ which, by the way, is pretty impressive. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s NOT. Well, at least, it’s not all that.  It’s way more just a mere dance. The more you get to experience tango, the more it becomes apparent that tango is life.

So how and where did tango begin? The origins of tango roots from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buenos Aires is a port city which is why it was flocked by immigrants around the early 1900s. Different people coming from different countries with varying cultures have settled in and called themselves Porteños. It was the fusion of multiple cultures, styles of music and dance, instruments and ideas that bore Argentine Tango and allowed it to thrive for the years to come.

Alright, so enough of the history lesson. The point I’m driving at here, however, is that tango is not about the traditional Ballroom stereotype it has been known for – with its false eyelashes, spray tans and pomp a-la sequins. Simply put, Argentine Tango is a soulful, modest, improvised dance created by a diverse wealth of cultures, arts and influences.

Tango is meant to be danced, not performed. It should not be choreographed. You are not going to dance in order to impress or be watched by an audience. Tango is all about self-expression with the use of body language just like any other social dance.

To be able to express yourself and connect with your partner, presence is required. This presence is otherwise known as “connection”. In tango, there are three most important types of connection and they are:

  1. Centering yourself (Connecting with the floor) – this type of connection simply means to feel your weight and feet on the floor. It’s being aware of your physical and mental state where you align your spine, release your body tension and clear your mind of any thoughts. Listen to yourself. So, the next time that you are idly just standing on the bus stop or waiting in line during lunch-time, try turning your attention to the soles of your feet and recognise the fact that whilst gravity pulls the weight of your body downward, at the same time, the floor holds you up.
  2. Building Relationships (Connecting with your partner) – when you master the art of centering yourself, it enables you to connect with others and build relationships. As I have mentioned above, tango is not about technicality or choreography. It is about self-expression and feeling the music. It becomes even more magical when we connect with our partner and become more responsive to them.
  3. Connecting with the universe (Connecting with the music) – tango is a walking dance. It is an improvised walk that is relaxed yet vibrating with expressive energy. It is elegantly smooth but varies with the beat and the pulse of the music.

Whilst we recognise that tango is a man and a woman’s elegant walk to tango music, we must also remember that tango is a feeling expressed through dance. If there is lack of emotion shared between a man and a woman in embrace, then it is nothing but a series of synchronised motion. Music is your source of emotion and emotion is what you share with your partner communicated through the embrace. All that is going on while you are walking through the music makes up the fundamental ingredients of tango.