Tango is a social dance form that originated
in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. The musical
styles that evolved together with the dance are also known as
tango. Early tango was known as tango criollo or simply tango.
Today, there are many tango dance styles including Argentine
tango, ballroom tango (American and International styles), Finnish
tango, Chinese tango, and vintage tangos. Argentine tango is
regarded as the "authentic" tango since it is closest
to that originally danced in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Music and dance elements of tango are popular
in activities related to dancing, such as figure skating, synchronized
swimming, etc., because of its dramatic feeling and rich opportunities
for improvisation on the eternal topic of love.
Argentine tango consists of a variety of styles
that developed in different regions and eras, and in response
to the crowding of the venue and even the fashions in clothing.
Even though they all developed in Argentina and Uruguay, they
were also exposed to influences reimported from Europe and North
America. Consequently there is a good deal of confusion and overlap
between the styles as they are now danced - and fusions continue
In sharp contrast to ballroom tango, Argentine
Tango relies heavily on improvisation, and in theory, every tango
is improvised. Although there are many steps and sequences of
steps that a tango dancer learns, every dancer is free to modify
Argentine Tango is danced counterclockwise around
the outside of the dance floor (the so-called "line of dance");
cutting across the middle of the floor is frowned on. It can
be acceptable to stop briefly in the line of dance to perform
stationary figures, as long as the other dancers are not unduly
impeded. (There is a saying about this: "If you look down
the line of dance and there is space for you—you're probably
keeping everyone else waiting behind you.") Dancers are
expected to respect the other couples on the floor; colliding
with, or stepping on the feet of another couple is to be strenuously
avoided. There are two sides to this: on one hand it is bad etiquette
towards the other dancers (and shows your "incompetence" from
a strict honor based judgment) - but even more so the leader
wants to protect his lady and give her a most memorable time
while dancing with him, any collision would just disturb that.
Argentine Tango is danced in a relatively close
embrace, with many dancers choosing to remain in chest-to-chest
(and sometimes head-to-head) contact, whereas the feet are apart.
The couple therefore looks like a "V" on the reverse.
The walk is one of the most important elements, and dancers prefer
to keep their feet in close contact with the floor at nearly
all times, the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the
other. A striking difference between Argentine tango and ballroom
tango is that the follower remains upright on her axis, or may
even lean toward the leader (and in a close embrace dances "chest-to-chest" with
the leader). In ballroom tango this posture is unheard of. In
fact, in ballroom tango the follower shyly pulls her upper body
away from the leader whenever he draws her toward him.
Another interesting difference is that in Argentine
tango, the leader may freely step with his left foot when the
follower steps with her left foot. In English, this is sometimes
referred to as a "crossed" or "uneven" walk.
In ballroom tango this is unheard of and considered incorrect
(unless the leader and follower are facing the same direction).
A third difference is that Argentine tango music
is much more varied than ballroom tango music, allowing Argentine
tango dancers to spend the whole night dancing only Argentine
tango. There is a great variety of music. Canaro alone produced
more than 4000 titles. Argentine Tango has its own waltz and
a fast dance - called Milonga, the same name that dance parties
Unlike the social version of ballroom tango which
has been standardized and thus been relatively fixed in style
for many decades, Argentine tango is a constantly evolving dance
(even on the social dance level) and musical form, with continual
innovation in Argentina and in major tango centers elsewhere
in the world. These innovations may offend some traditionalists
(there are quite many discussions about what still can be considered
tango), but they make sure that it remains a relevant to contemporary
culture and society.
Tango dancers usually meet at Milongas, held
in Buenos Aires and many other mayor cities world wide.
Argentine Tango Dance Lessons at the Atrium
Argentine Tango Dance Parties (Milongas) at the Atrium
ATRIUM DANCE STUDIO
4721 N. Crescent Blvd. (Route 130)
Pennsauken, NJ 08110