What is Argentine tango?
Argentine tango originated in Argentina and Uruguay. It is one of the most passionate dances (to find out why read the short history further down). It is not hard to learn and it does not require much skills but the ability to listen to the music.
Tango is essentially walking with a partner and the music (so no excuses of inability to dance can be used). :) Musicality (i.e. dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango) is an extremely important element of dancing tango. A good dancer is one who makes you see the music. And after few classes that will be you. :)
Argentine tango relies heavily on improvisation. "No mistakes in the tango. Not like life, simple, that's what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, you just tango on.", as was once said by Al Pacino in his movie Scent of the woman, hence do not be scared to try it. It is a new orientation of couple dancing. Tango is a good opportunity to dance as a couple as well as meet new people.
One of the frequently asked questions is what is the difference between Argentine tango and Ballroom tango. Let me clarify it:
Ballroom tango vs Argentine tango
fixed steps vs improvisation
contact in hips vs contact in chest
crossed walk is incorrect vs normal or crossed walk both correct
limited amount of similar tracks vs large volume of diverse tracks
If you haven’t figure out it yet: Argentine tango is way more fun to dance than ballroom tango.
Dancing Argentine tango rather than watching it brings the real joy, so watching other people dance won’t help you to decide whether this dance is for you. Come along to one of our classes and try it for yourself.
If you have time and interested you can read this little chapter about the history of Argentine Tango by James Stewart:
"Buenos Aires was very poor city, with almost penniless immigrants coming to make their fortunes on the plains of Argentina or Uruguay, failing and ending up in the cities. In the early years of the 1900 2 million immigrants arrived in BsAs from Europe, 1/2 from Italy, 1/3 from Spain. Many were single men, hoping to earn enough to return to Europe, or bring their family or buy a bride from Europe. A poor, desperate, male population bred crime, brothels, gangsters, and the tango! The generally accepted history has the tango dance originating from the minor toughs, the compadritos, with nothing to their name except macho pride, imitating the dances of the African population, as the danced on the street. Thus, the much wilder candombe was mixed with the milonga to form the early Tango. Men danced together - there were few women, but tango inevitably moved to where they could be found - in the brothels, and it is said that the women could chose their clients by their dancing skill. The man had three dances to prove himself! In the mysterious way that popular culture develops, this dance and music moved up the social scale, met more refined cousins coming down, and was picked up by the sons of the rich who preferred to send their time in the less salubrious parts of their city.
By 1910 the rich sons of Argentina were making their way to Paris, centre of the cultural and entertainment world. They introduced the tango into a society eager for innovation, and not entirely averse to the risqué nature of this import, especially as taught by the dashing, rich latin boys who brought it. In 1913 the Tango had spread from St Petersburg to New York, not without controversy, and had become an international phenomena, even if its heart was still on the Rio de la Plata and the cities of BsAs and Montevideo. The Argentine upper classes who had shunned the tango were now forced into accepting it, because it was fashionable in Paris. Hollywood glamorised the tango to a mass audience, with Valentino as the most famous if completely inauthentic tangoing gaucho. At this point a long conflict started between tango as the expression of the soul and experience of the Buenos Aires resident - the Porteño, and this being inaccessible to anyone else, and a universally practiced and meaningful music and dance."