The Tango is a slow, sexy dance that originated in the slums of
Buenos Aires in the mid-1800s. It has become a universal symbol of
sexual tension in the movies, but most commonly, is a popular dance in
ballrooms and nightclubs around the world. Although many variations of
the Tango exist, the most famous is still the original Argentine Tango.
History of the Tango
so many of history’s most popular and enduring dance styles, the
Tango’s legacy stretches back from its current cachet as a sensuous,
exotic ballroom dance to its origins in the immigrant African slums of
Argentina. No one knows for certain where the Tango really came from,
but it’s generally accepted that the word itself likely has African
origins, and that it evolved from the free mixing of cultures and
ethnicities in working class Buenos Aires in the mid-19th century.
There, poor immigrants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, and Russia
mixed and mingled with African slaves and shared their dance traditions.
Cuban and African musical styles and instruments were introduced, and
an early style of the Tango was born.
Later, wealthy members of
the Argentinian elite who weren’t above slumming among society’s poor
introduced the dance to their own circles and eventually brought the
steps and music with them to Paris where many had moved for education
and leisure travel. Unlike conservative Buenos Aires society, Parisians
loved and embraced the coarse, sexual nature of the new dance. The Tango
craze spread throughout Europe and soon landed in London and New York.
Before long, even the most scandalized Argentinian matron couldn’t help
but proudly claim the wildly popular Tango as a homegrown phenomenon.
the years several different styles of the Tango have evolved, including
International, American, French, Gaucho, Ballroom, and others, though
the original Argentine Tango remains a favorite. Although its popularity
has waxed and waned over the generations, it’s become one of the most
famous dance styles in the world.
How to Dance the Tango/Basic Steps
The basic forward walking step for the leading partner in the Tango:
Step forward with the left foot. (Count 1, 2.)
Step forward with right foot. (Count 3, 4.)
Step forward with left foot. (Count 5.)
Step forward slightly and to the side with the right foot so that both feet are at an angle. (Count 6.)
Close the left foot to the right foot. (Count 7, 8.)
Tango looks quite complicated, but learning the basic steps is not. In
fact, you’ve probably already done it at least once in your life —
that’s how popular the Tango is. Here are some tips to keep in mind as
you learn the Tango:
The Tango starts with a simple walk: el Paseo (the “stroll”). Thus, if you can walk, you can Tango.
The basic Tango rhythm is slow-slow. Step on every other beat.
Keep your head and posture erect but not stiff.
you can’t execute a more complicated move while still keeping in time
with the music, stick to the basic steps. Don’t sacrifice rhythm for
Listen carefully to the music! Because the Tango is a very slow dance, keeping in rhythm is of critical importance.
As you progress in the Tango, you can add turns and other embellishments.
Great Tango Songs
“El Tango de Roxanne”
“Phantom of the Opera Tango”
“Orchids in the Moonlight”
“Tango Argentino” (Orchestra Tango Cafe)
Tango in the Movies
“Scent of a Woman” (1992)
“Addams Family Values” (1993)
“Moulin Rouge” (2001)
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (2005)