Glamour, dazzling choreographies, red roses, jealousy, machism, Roxane… tango conjures up plenty of images… But there is much more to tango than high kicks, sexy dresses and sensuality…
So let’s put the Dancing-With-the-Star-fun aside, and dive into a world where what matters is the people, and dancing is shared from the heart.
Here are 10 comomnly-held tango beliefs… busted!
1. Tango is a sensual dance
Sexy, sensual, sexual… People who look at it from the outside think of the tango embrace as seductive and sensual. But actually, from the inside, it is much calmer than it looks. True, there can be some attraction between two dancers, but in the end it is much rarer than you’d think.
2. It is a ‘macho’ dance, with men leading and women following
It is true that traditionnally men lead and women follow. Today, plenty of people switch roles: some women are exceptional leaders, and some men are world-famous for their following skills. But most importantly, following and leading are narrow translations of the much richer conversation that is happening in the tango embrace. Once you know how to dance, you realise that even though there are specific roles, both partners are following each other.
3. It is full of complicated choreographies
Apart from a few tango shows, Tango is never about choreographies. It is an improvised dance: we never learn routines that we later recreate on the dance floor. We learn a technique, which then allows us to improvise with any dancer we meet. It is a bit like learning a language: you learn the grammar, the conjugaison, the vocabulary… then you are able to have wonderful discussions with anyone who knows it too.
4. I need the whole black-suit-red-dress-high-heels shebang
Women don’t dance with roses in-between their teeth, and the hats are left in the cloakroom… Even though we do make an effort to look our best when we go dancing socially – just because it’s nicer – our social dancing is usually very relaxed. In fact, the only thing you need for dancing is a good floor, music and a partner. It is true that women usually dance with high heels but you don’t have to. After a while, you’ll probably want to get some tango-specific attire, because it’s fun. But overall…. come as you are!
5. It is an Argentinian dance
You got me here. Yes, it is an Argentinian dance: it started in the Rio de la plata at the turn of the 20th century. But did you know that it is deeply rooted in the African rhythms of the black slaves that came to Argentina from Brazil? And that it was influenced by the Viennese waltz and the folk dancing of Eastern Europe? That dancers in Paris, Italy, New York… all played a role in the development of the tango we’re dancing today? Tango is an Argentinian dance (and music) that has been enriched by multiple cultures – which is why it is so fascinating.
6. With all these kicks, boleos, ganchos… it is a dance you have to start young
Contrarily to many dances, you can start tango at any age. In fact, in our milongas we have people rocking the dancefloor who started dancing well over 60 or 70. They thought they could not dance, and a few years later, here they are dancing all night. In our social dancing events, the milongas, people of all ages and all backgrounds come to dance together.
7. Tango is very serious, too serious….
Our faces may look serious because we need to be very focused when we are dancing… but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of fun happening in the embrace. In fact, tango is super playful: the ‘leader’ proposes a move, the ‘follower’ readily accepts, he suprises her with an unexpected sacada, she adds musical decorations…. Dancing together is about surprising each other in a gentle way!
Moments from our tango group classes
8. The tango music started with Carlos Gardel, continued with Piazzola and ended with Gotan Project
Gardel, Piazzola and Gotan Project are world-famous and are often what brings beginners to tango classes. But as you can imagine there is much more about tango music than just them! In fact, discovering the world of tango is like diving into a new universe of orchestras, with bandoneons, violins, pianos. taking you off your feet with their powerful rhythms… You never stop being surprised, always discovering new orchestras and new songs. To get started on tango music, you can check our article about the most important tango orchestras.
9. You have to come with a partner to learn how to dance
Plenty of people don’t take up tango because they think you need to start with a partner. What a shame! In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You can obviously come with a partner: tango is a wonderful dance to learn with someone you love. But it is also great to take the plunge and come alone, or with a bunch of friends! Usually, dancers come on their own and meet partners in classes or at milongas (social dancing). It is great because it means you learn how to dance very quickly. And also, you get to meet a lot of lovely people who become friends.
10. Tango is “just a dance”
More than just a dance, tango is a culture. Entering the world of tango means discovering not only the dancing but also the music, the milongas, the community… it is a special world, full of lovely people who share much more than a few dances together. So come, try a few classes…. and discover everything that tango has to offer!
We hope that you enjoyed discovering a bit more about tango. Now, why don’t you come and try it out? Check out a class, and give walking in the tango embrace a go. You’ll love it!
Looking forward to welcoming you in the tango world,
Pablo & Anne