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What Is Tango Dancing?

Amy Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
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Tango dancing is a form of couples dance with a rich tradition and history. It has captured the popular imagination with the image of a man and woman dancing dramatically, the woman clutching a rose between her teeth and being "dipped" by her partner. This may be an amusing image, but it doesn't actually bear much resemblance to the real dance.

Tango dancing originated in Buenos Aries, the capital of Argentina, in the late nineteenth century. It began as a street dance and was practiced in bars and brothels. The dance made its way to Paris and then to America by the early 20th century, where it became popular among the "sheiks" and "flappers" of the Jazz Age. This is where the stereotypical image of the dance first came into being.

Tango dancing lost some of its prestige in Argentina after the Great Depression in 1929, but resurged in popularity after Juan Peron came to power. It became a matter of national pride to be able to tango. After numerous dictator governments in Argentina again repressed the dance, it came back to life in the 1980s after the premiere of the Broadway musical Forever Tango.

It might well be said of tango that it takes a short time to learn, but a lifetime to master. It is a highly syncopated dance with staccato steps. The couple dances it with a sensual, dramatic flair, in a close embrace, their faces pointed in the same direction, arms extended, hands clasped or palms together. In true Argentine tango, the couple dances with full upper body contact, while in the American ballroom style, the couple does not maintain upper body contact. The dance involves several specialized steps, including the woman hooking her leg around her partner's, and one partner dragging the back foot in rhythm.

Tango dancing also has its own particular style of music. Its timing and rhythms match the steps of the dance, and musicians specialize in composing and playing music suitable for tango. There are tango dancing clubs all over the United States, and the dance is still popular in its birthplace of Argentina. There are numerous Web sites dedicated to its music and technique, as well as the culture surrounding it.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at Musical Expert. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.
Discussion Comments
By surflover00 — On Aug 31, 2010

sunflower34- Agree to do something your husband is interested in if he attends tango lessons with you. Attend a sporting event or go camping with your husband in exchange for him accompanying you to tango lessons.

Think of it as a mutual exchange. If you get what you want, he will get something he wants.

By sunflower34 — On Aug 31, 2010

ColdRain- I agree with you that having a partner you are comfortable with and connect with is essential to mastering the tango.

Does anyone have any tips for persuading my husband to attend tango dance classes with me?

By ColdRain — On Aug 31, 2010

MuffinMaker- The tango is a difficult dance with many intricate steps. It is often very difficult for beginners to master.

However, it typically does not matter that much if you have no previous dance experience. It matters more how your body moves and if you can easily feel the rhythm of the music.

It is also very important to have a partner you connect with and are comfortable dancing with. If you are dancing with some random guy at the local tango club, you will likely feel very awkward and it will affect your ability to perform the dance.

Convince your spouse or significant other to attend tango dancing lessons with you. It will help you feel more comfortable and it is a fun activity that will likely bring you closer together.

By MuffinMaker — On Aug 31, 2010

I want to learn to dance tango. Is it difficult for people with no dance experience to learn the tango?

Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at Musical Expert....
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