Argentine tango is a social dance and a musical genre that originated in the late 19th century in the Rio de la Plata region, which includes the cities of Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Montevideo (Uruguay). It has since spread to many parts of the world and has become an international dance form.
Argentine Tango - The Dance
The dance is characterised by its elegance and improvisation. While there are basic steps and patterns, the dance allows personal creativity and expression. It’s often described as a conversation between the partners. Watch this short documentary to find out more.
The social dance of tango is very different from performance tango that we often see on stage and TV shows such as Strictly. Social tango is danced by people of all ages, all backgrounds, and all levels of dance experience in clubs and halls up and down the country. The Performance, or “show” tango you may see on screen and stage is choreographed and danced by professionals. It’s designed for entertainment rather than participation. Both can be inspiring.
More than this, Argentine tango is not just a dance; it's an experience. Enjoy the journey of discovering the nuances of the dance, the music, and the connection with your partner. Find out where you can learn to dance with our Find your Tango map.
The benefits of dancing Argentine Tango
Argentine tango is a dance form that is deeply rooted in the basic human need for connection and communication. The embrace that is characteristic of Argentine tango creates a strong physical and emotional connection between the dancers, creating a sense of trust and intimacy between the partners. The benefits of dancing Argentine tango are well recognised and include:
Physical Fitness: Dancing Tango can help muscle tone and flexibility and regular dancing can help cardiovascular health.
Improved Posture and Body Awareness: Tango encourages good posture and body awareness, helping alignment and balance in everyday life - great if you spend long hours sitting at a desk.
Stress Reduction: Dancing tango can be a wonderful way to relieve stress and everyday tensions. The focus on the music & a partner is a wonderful way to escape from the worries of the day.
Cognitive Benefits: Learning and mastering the steps and patterns of the dance stimulates the brain and can improve cognitive function. And it’s fun!
Emotional Expression: Tango is known for its emotional intensity, allowing dancers to express a wide range of emotions through movement. This can be a wonderful means of self-expression.
Multisensory Experience: Tango engages multiple senses, including touch, sight, and hearing. This combination creates a wonderful rich and fulfilling experience - there's nothing like it!
Argentine tango is danced socially across the globe. Throughout the UK there are regular social dances (milongas) where you will be welcomed and can connect with other dancers. many dancers make new and long lasting friendships through tango. If you are looking for a milonga either near your home town or somewhere new, you can find details here.
Argentine Tango - The Music
Tango music stems from a fusion of cultures (from the countryside of Argentina/Uruguay together with melodies of European immigrants) and developed into the genre we know today.
The tango music that was recorded in Buenos Aires (between the 1920s to 1950s) that is enjoyed at social dances around the UK, and around the world, is rarely or never heard on UK radio or television. The distinctive sound has a strong rhythmic structure with syncopated beats, dramatic pauses and is characterised by its melancholic melodies. The typical dance orchestra consists of bandoneóns (a form of accordion), violins, a piano, and double bass. The dance music consists of both instrumental and sung tangos. The lyrics of tangos often explore themes of love, loss, nostalgia, and longing, with some light-hearted ones to lift the mood!
The variety of tango music is extensive but we have included a sample here: a video of a contemporary orchestra from Buenos Aires and a Spotify link to dance tangos that were recorded in Buenos Aires during the 1930s/50s.