Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango is not just a dance. . . it's an experience, a celebration.
It is gaining a huge current popularity, with its ability to combine PASSION, SENSUALITY and ELEGANCE within one dance. The Tango is a feeling that is danced. That's why it is not choreographed; though it can have natural sequences, like all feelings. You can dance love, rage, happiness, pleasure . . . every mood. The tango is not a dance to demonstrate ability but rather an interpretation of feeling. It is not just moving your feet, climbing over legs and posturing. Most pleasure can be gained by endeavouring to make the dance a pleasure for your partner, even if this is the first time you have danced together.
The tango is Argentine, but it belongs to all those who understand its feelings and its codes. It is an intuitive and spontaneous dance which is created "in the moment" utilising variations and combinations of walking, turning, stopping and adornments. As the couple moves with the flow of other couples around the line of dance, the man provides his partner with clearly marked opportunities for steps, figures and adornments of varying tempo, size and energy, in a dance, which enhances the excitement and unpredictability of the experience. Even though certain rules and parameters must be followed, the dancers can never truly predict how someone will interpret the music, construct a dance, or embellish it. It really does "take two to tango", because tango is more than just one leading and the other following. Both partners are important contributors - as with all good conversations.
Since bursting out of the salons & dance halls of Buenos Aires in the late 19th Century, the Argentine Tango has evolved into a popular dance form which has captured the hearts and imaginations of people around the world. Tango requires simultaneous surrender and discipline. The unspoken dialogue, as partners are responding to one another's expressive interpretations through the connection of their bodies, has led to the description of this dance being a pure form of communication - a conversation without words. Women and men bring their own signatures to the THE ARGENTINE TANGO.


Tango Newport

Our standard lessons are held at 7.30pm at the Cosy Hall, Water Lane, Newport, Shropshire TF10 7LD every Friday night.  For all our activities - please see the Calendar

Because of the pleasure we have found in dancing Tango, we are enthusiastic and passionate about sharing it with anyone who wants to learn and experience the many facets of Argentine Tango.
We practice the social style of Argentine Tango. In contrast to stage or 'medal' tango, the social dance is entirely improvised. Our
Skills Share and Intro sessions are designed to have you dancing socially as soon as possible. The emphasis is on the 'connection' between the leader and follower, musicality and improvisation. Our dancers are of diverse backgrounds, nationalities and ages and joined together by their shared passion for the Argentine Tango.


Keep In Touch

Stay tuned and check the Calendar for more Upcoming Events. Tell us what you think of our new website, what we should improve and what you'd like to see and read about. And to make it easy for you to come back and keep up-to-date, we suggest you bookmark your Perth Tango Club website. Let's dance tango soon.


Milonga

Confusing for beginners - the word Milonga has more than one use.
1. - A milonga is one of the three dances in the Argentine Tango portfolio - Tango - Vals - Milonga.
2. - Milonga is also used to refer to the dance venue or event. Like the Ballroom or Ball.

Milonga - the dance - is often referred to as one of the earliest form of the tango. Normally danced one step per beat. Most beginners start in patterns of six step. It is usually more upbeat than a tango - often danced to a quick rythm - but there are some lovely slower milongas.


Milonguera

The term for a female Tango dancer using the very close 'Milonguero' embrace. The upper bodies of the dancers are touching thus the steps and movements are less spectacular but the communication between the dancers is much more effective.

Milonguero

The male equivalent of the Milonguera, being a Milongero became a way of life for some Argentinian men who would spend their life perfecting their own particular dance and just dancing - often to the detriment of their families.

What is a Milonguero?
The following is an extract from a letter written by the late Maestro Ricardo Vidort:


"To explain what is a milonguero, is really very difficult, because the feeling of this beautiful emotion is something new to each person.  It is almost impossible to put it in words.  But I shall try to do it, and I hope without offending or hurting anybody's feelings.
To be a milonguero, first of all you have your own style of dancing.  It means that you have a unique feeling for the music, rhythm, cadence and embrace.  When you have all this, the music invades your body and mind and then, only then, the chemistry begins that really makes you transmit to your partner as if both were talking, whispering, sliding on the floor with sacadas, corridas, turns, dancing only one for the other, not for the people.  In that moment, when both are listening to the magic of the music, the skin of one in the skin of the other, the smell, the touch produces the miracle of something like a mantra, and the ying and the yang is there!!!  We are dancing tango!!!
The priorities of a milonguero are the feeling and the woman.  The codes are like the commandments which were born with the tango, and the music is defined in three parts.  The first is a question, the second is a pause or prologue, the third part holds an answer.  All this is in our feeling and this is why we always improvise, having the pleasure of being ourselves, in our own style with the rhythm and the cadence.
Today people teach in methodic ways, but the tango, the real Tango Salon, does not have method, because it is a feeling.
Technique and choreography are only for performance, this is tango which has been learned for hours for show business; there are hundreds of couples doing the same thing, and only a few of them, let us say ten or fifteen are really very good because they are different and that is another thing.
Every tango dancer of the streets, those who practised in the squares or parks, with other men, developed technique naturally, without knowing it.  His steps and feeling were a technique.
My advice is - walk, walk with your toe first and always in the music, walk and practise to be yourself and not a copy of anybody else.

Ricardo Vidort, July 2004"


Shoes

Much has been written regarding Tango shoes. Most will say that Tango shoes should be leather soled as opposed to suede soled ballroom dancing shoes. This has arisen because that is what the Argentines wear. In Argentina it is rare for a Milonga to be held at a venue with a sprung wooden dance floor; dancers often find themselves in sports halls, restaurants, cafes and patios or even grass. Any shoe that permits the dancer to pivot on the ball of the foot on the floor in use at the time is fine. Most dancers have leather soled as well as suede soled shoes so that they can select appropriately for the venue when they get there. Suede soles left un-brushed for a time take on the properties of a leather sole. The important criteria are pivot easily when turning; without slipping when stepping.


Tanguero

Perpetrators of the Argentine Tango are known as Tangueros. Tanguero for male - Tanguera for female.  Also see Milongero and Milongera.


Tandas

In Buenos Aires the dances at a milonga are generally organised in groups or 3 or 4 dances in a similar vein (a Tanda). There may be several Tandas of Tango, one of Vals, another of Tango, one of Milonga and so on. The Tandas are separated by a short intermission (Cortina) - this can be a burst of a pop song, rock number or a full dance of another genre (a Mambo say). At a Buenos Aires milonga it is usual for a man to invite a lady to dance the full Tanda (or all that remains of it). At the end of the Tanda it is usual for the man to escort the lady back to her table during the intermission. In the golden age, at most milongas, the music was being played on records (and from the 50's on LP's) they tended to play a Tanda from one LP and hence one orchestra. At TangoNewport we play the music from our vast collections stored on computers - therefore we are able to organise much more interesting Tandas.  Few of the LP's had 4 consecutive 'great' tracks, but this is easy to achieve with the technology at our disposal these days. We still aim to present each Tanda with a common mood or style - but no longer need to limit it to consecutive tracks from the same orchestra. Our play lists for the evenings or other events cover most of the repertoire - catering for most tastes - but with the emphasis on genuine Argentinian music written and performed for dancers.


Cortinas

In Buenos Aires the Tandas are separated by a short intermission (Cortina) - this can be a burst of a pop song, rock number or a full dance of another genre (a Mambo say)

 

Etiquette

Much of this was taken from an American web site (www.inscenes.com/etiquette) - we have given it our own flavour.

The following guidelines of Tango dance etiquette are usually assumed to be well known, but not often discussed. For new dancers, it's good to know what's what so as to help avoid embarrassing, awkward, or unsafe situations.  As in any pastime - following some basic guidelines can help maximize the pleasure of your Tango dance experience and that of the souls around you.

1. Not The Dodgems.  At a Tango milonga (dance), couples dance counter-clockwise around the dance floor. In some places, with large floors, there are slower "lanes" toward the centre.  The faster "lanes" are those toward the outside of the counter - clockwise line of dance however, in TangoNewport, dancing in strict lanes is neither the norm or encouraged.  As you dance, refrain from cutting across other dancers, cutting through the centre, or dancing backward to the line-of-dance (into the oncoming traffic).  In UK the venues are generally not very large and it is therefore incumbent on the leaders to leave space around them for other dancers and not to assume they have right of way to overtake at any time in a 'fast lane'.  The general direction of progress (the line of dance) is counter clockwise but it is not a route march.  Buenos Aires Milongueros may take an entire dance to traverse one side of the venue.

2. Clear The Deck.  If you are not dancing, please show common sense and respect to those who are dancing by not walking through the busy dance floor and by staying clear of the dance space.  For example, whilst others are dancing, do not stand in the dance lanes and talk.  On the dance floor, available real estate is always in demand and constantly changing.  First priority goes to the dance and the dancers.  Give the dancers room.  However, in narrow venues where tables are placed around the edges of the dance floor; dancers should give consideration to those people standing by their tables or in the process of rising or sitting.  A Milonga is a social event and social activities will go on around the periphery of the dancing.  Give the other guests consideration.

3. Teachers' Pests.  If you are trying to show your partner a new step, move to a  non-dance area for your demonstration and discussion.  At a Practica in particular, please conduct these activities in the centre of the floor - leaving the outside free for the normal dance traffic.

4. Safety First.  The safety of your partner and surrounding dancers is your first concern.  Both leader and follower should always be alert to the presence of other dancers in front, to the sides, and behind to help avoid collisions.  The leader is responsible for 'Taking The Space' on a dance floor - so should ensure that the space is available before invading it.  If a collision occurs, try to soften the effect by bringing your arms in and stopping movement.  Afterwards be polite and friendly, even if it was not your fault (as if it ever would be!). To a large extent, dancing on a crowded Tango dance floor is an exercise in avoiding collisions in a safe, creative, and fun fashion - but do it to the music please.

5. Leg Sense.  No one likes being kicked, run into, or stepped on; so on a crowded dance floor, avoid aggressive movements uch as high boleos, hard-hitting ganchos, and leg extensions.  If you feel you are about to step on someone, hopefully not your partner, try to not follow through with the stepping action to soften the blow of your foot landing on another's.

6. Arm Sense.  Leaders keep your left hand down and about shoulder height with your left elbow down and fairly close to your side.  You are (hopefully) not trying to look like the 'Come Dancing' folk.  It's not fun on a crowded dance floor having to duck when another dancer swings around with their partner and the lead's left hand is five feet in the air and inches from your nose.

7. No Showboats.  On a crowded dance floor, "showboating" in the outer lane is frowned on since it usually stops dancers, coming from behind, making forward progress; and it usually involves steps that are not safe to the surrounding dancers, and probably not in keeping with the music.  Remember, it's not the Olympics or "show time", it's a social dance, so relax and have fun.  If you feel the need to do a little showboating, move to the centre of the floor where you can stop and do multiple ochos or molinetes, for example, and not hinder the anti clockwise line-of-dance movement.

8. Collision Detection/Prevention.  For the leaders, if you absolutely must travel backwards to line-of-dance, look to the rear first.  For the followers, as any dance pattern unfolds, be alert to dancers potentially in the way and let the leader know of a possible collision verbally, by a hand squeeze, or by pulling your partner closer, or all of these, especially on a crowded dance floor.  In the Buenos Aires milongas most tangueros start by facing the outside wall.  If you are facing the outside wall a backward step is not against the line of dance.  They progress by using patterns of turning steps that generally advance counter clockwise.  They will often take an entire Tango to cover one side of the dance floor.

9. Traffic Jams.  If a dance couple in front of you stops, then either dance around them (if that will not inconvenience others), mark time or use the techniques we teach at TangoNewport, to continue dancing 'on your tile' until they move.  Turning will generally avoid an impasse.

10. Backseat Drivers.  Followers, do not back-lead.  Not only does it make leading more difficult, but it also makes it more difficult for the leader to avoid collisions. It also detracts from the very essence of this wonderful dance.

11. Smile - You're In His/Her Arms.  It's ok to smile and have fun on the Tango dance floor.  We hear that the Tango police have stopped prosecuting for this.

12. Free Advice.  For more experienced dancers, try to set a good example for beginners: be patient, polite and sensitive.  It is acceptable to give advice, provided it is asked for first, or provided you first ask permission to make an "observation" or a "comment".  Remember you were once a beginner.  A harsh or insensitive, but well intended "comment" can still ruin someone's evening.

13. Getting Close.  Nearly last but not nearly least: Argentine Tango is an intimate and elegant dance.  For a pleasant experience, good hygiene is essential; we hope everybody bathes before dancing and uses deodorant.  It helps to use breath fresheners frequently, many Milongas provide mints at the entrance desk.  Minimal talking while dancing; focus on the music, dancing and floor traffic.  Careful with the aftershave and perfume; some people are sensitive to them.  If you perspire, use a towel or handkerchief often.  People as a rule don't like dance partners that are walking wet towels (in the literal sense.)  So men, if you perspire heavily, use a towel, take a break and cool down, bring extra shirts, and change frequently.  Try wearing a vest (under-shirt for the colonials).  Even in the steamy Buenos Aires milongas many men wear jackets for the actual dances, removing it between tandas.  This is a social dance, go to the gym if you want an aerobic workout.  If you wear glasses, consider contact lenses or removing your glasses while dancing unless you can't see where you're dancing.  Getting whacked in the head with someone's glasses as they turn their head is not pleasant.

14. Talking.  Whilst a Milonga is a social event - please, please please keep your chatter OFF the dance floor.  Whilst you may well feel that what you want to say to your partner is the most riveting discourse since the sermon on the mount, it is the last thing other dancers wish to hear.  Once a dance has started, if you are nattering you cannot possibly be paying proper attention to the music, your partner, or the other dancers around you.  This is probably the single biggest and most prolific sin at a milonga, whereas the odd bump may be easily forgiven; constant nattering is just not acceptable and can totally destroy the feeling of the dance for those unfortunate souls within earshot who are subjected to your poor etiquette.  Talk at the tables NOT during the dance.


15.
And Finally.  One last thing, PLEASE, avoid jeans, tennis shoes, or other similar casual attire when you go to a dance. Tango is an elegant dance; dress for it.

1999-2009 InScenes Magazine, All Rights Reserved. This material may not be used in any manner without the expressed written permission of  InScenes Magazine. www.inscenes.com/etiquette


Tango Nuevo
As it was originally conceived, tango nuevo was largely a pedagogic approach to tango that emphasized a structural analysis of the dance in which previously unexplored combinations of steps and new figures could be found.  Some of those exploring those possibilities gradually developed tango nuevo into a style that is danced in an open, loose or elastic embrace with a very upright posture and a great emphasis on the dancers maintaining their own axes.  Although some advocates emphasize its structural analysis over specific figures, some of the most identifiable figures of the style are overturn ochos, cadenas, linear boleos and volcadas—most of which are best accomplished in a loose or elastic embrace.

 
 

Page last updated by    

Bruce