Tango: a practical guide for beginners


Tango: a practical guide for beginners

Nov 13, 2015


Tango dance is not an impossible, but neither an easy task. In fact, senior dancers assure that you can never completely lead the dance. The nature of Tango is to reach a total connection with your partner, renewing such synchronization with every step.

It is a matter of feeling the body of the other, to communicate through movement and improvisation accomplished together in perfect harmony

So the first tip to dance tango does not refer to a specific technique, but a state of mind that could be summarized like this: all you have is the present. Go with the music, because dance is made of emotions, passions and outbursts. No place to think or plan, only to feel.

Ready to try? Do not forget to dress in comfortable clothes. It must be as comfortable as possible to move unhindered. Of course, it never hurts a good pair of shoes that allow you to both slide as well stand on the floor. For women, imperative to wear shoes with middle heels to maintain an upright and straight posture.


First lesson: to learn your role in the couple. In tango, there is always someone who leads the dance and another that follows him/her. In mixed couples, the man takes the leadership and the woman carries away by him, but today has become important the “queer tango”, where couples are of same sex.

This "separation of powers" does not mean in any way that man has complete control. In fact, it is the woman who agrees to be guided first, and for that he must show he has the character and confidence to lead her. Therefore, seduction begins to play even before taking the first step, in many cases with the famous head movement: an almost imperceptible nod that invites the chosen woman to dance.


Now, the so desired meeting on the dance floor. It does not mean she tries to copy her partner, but he should guide her so that woman can know what step will continue to carry out the movement simultaneously. One should be the instant mirror of the other. At this point, the secret is related to the embrace art. The man, placing his right hand on his partner's back just below her shoulder blades, presses gently but firmly to bring the woman to his chest. In turn, she stands erect and alert, in constant resistance.

Buenos Aires Tango

A perfect embrace is always in that delicate balance of tension; thus man may shift the support of his hand, as a rudder, anticipating his next moves. If the woman is alert to these slight variations of pressure on her back, then she will be able to guess each step and follow it in time. Only then theymanage to melt into each other, surrendering themselves to dance and pleasure.

The embrace also helps to proper weight distribution. This point is key, since one of the main (and most difficult) challenges in Tango is to control the body, in order to move gracefully and effortlessly.


Instructors often say that "walking is the first thing you learn and the last thing you dominate". They are right: no matter how long you spend in the practice of complex techniques (spin, cadence, chain, output, taken ...) if you fail to feel comfortable and safe in the basic walk, the gadgets are worthless. Pay attention to those gentlemen of 60 or 70 years old on the floor doing nothing but moving slowly. Do you think they are beginners? You are wrong, in fact, they are the experts. So they continue to practice the walking.

Another important point about these expert Tango dancers. Do not be afraid to dance with them! On the contrary, you will learn better and faster if you dance with them. And why do you think they also gather at milongas where the general level is beginner or intermediate? Because they never forget that they are also constantly learning.

Buenos Aires Tango

One last tip: if at any time you go out of the floor to take a break, you do not lose track of the music. Tango has a unique cadence, a rhythmic pulse as particular as elusive. Get used to the ear and try to flesh this unique melodic expression. Only when you can give your whole body to Tango you can start to dance.


Don´t you know which is the milonga for you? Below, a basic guide to find the one for you in Buenos Aires:

If you need to learn the ABC: La Viruta (Armenia 1366, Palermo) is an ideal space for lessons and also to encourage you to your first milonga. You do not have to register yourself in advance and you'll have a couple of teachers, allowing both men and women receive specific technical markings. There are afternoon and evening lessons, from Tuesday to Saturday, and milonga on Thursday and Sunday.

If you want authenticity above all: La Catedral (Sarmiento 4006, Almagro) is the favorite of local and young foreigners seeking "the actual experience of Tango". After getting a threadbare stairs, walk into a huge hall stripped of all artifice. Here there is no great comfort and elegant details, but the place is full of mystique - the proof is that the Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla, twice Oscar winner and leader of the electronic Tango band Bajofondo, chose to celebrate his 60th birthday in La Catedral.

If you are looking to unleash your unbridled passion: Maldita Milonga (Peru 571, San Telmo) offers lessons and milonga with live orchestra every Wednesday and Sunday. Dancing to the live sounds and vibrations of the Typical Orchestra El Afronte, an institution of Buenos Aires Tango, is an exquisite pleasure that can make you lose control (in the best sense, of course). It is better to make a reservation in advance since it is often crowded.

If you know you have two left feet and prefer not to dance: If you do not even dare to try the dance floor, then your place is Club Atlético Fernández Fierro (Sanchez de Bustamante 764, Almagro). The eponymous orchestra plays every Wednesday and Saturday, and the audience listens to it sitting in the stands and drinking a cold beer. The atmosphere is very relaxed and town like, but the music is first rate.

- If queer tango drew your attention: In this web site http://www.tangoqueer.com/ you can find information about lessons, milongas and even a festival held once a year. This is an initiative of a group of teachers and tango enthusiasts who wanted to create "a freed space". Highly recommended for those who want to try something different.



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