Argentine Tango has always been associated with the words "sensuality", "elegance" and "passion". It is no wonder that the dance has appeared in movies, music videos, and commercials due to these sentiments it evokes. Not to be mistaken for the ballroom tango as commonly seen in international ballroom dancing, the traditional Argentine Tango is an improvised dance ( although sometimes choreographed for performances), where the man leads the lady through an embrace, in a conversation of love, passion or just pure fun.

 
 
 

The Argentine Tango dates back to the 1800s where it began to be danced in the bars and brothels of Buenos Aires, Argentina, due to the huge influx of immigrants at that time, bringing to these places lonely men looking for romance. Originally danced by the lower class, Tango gained its reputation as a respectable dance and became widely popular among the general public after it spread to Europe. Argentine Tango reached its "Golden Age" in the 1930s- 1950s, the time when tango orchestras whose music we dance most often to today emerged, amongst which are the four great orchestras led by Carlos Di Sarli, Juan D'Arienzo, Osvaldo Pugliese and Anibal Troilo. Tango nearly disappeared after this period due to government suppression, but was revived in the 80s, and spread quickly to the rest of the world. Until this day, the Tango is still alive in Buenos Aires and in many cities around the world, danced in what we call “Milongas” meaning dance parties, where men and women, old and young, singles, couples or families, will sit, eat, drink, socialize and dance to the luring music of the Argentine Tango. To many, it has not just become just a hobby, but a lifestyle, or even an addiction.

In 2009, the tango was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.


Why Argentine Tango?


Forget about the rose in the mouth, or the paranoid head turns, or the dragging of the lady across the floor – all these stereotypical images of Argentine Tango created by Hollywood. Argentine Tango is an elegant and subtle dance, where the feelings felt between the couple is as important as how the dance looks.


Unlike many ballroom dances that require one to remember steps and choreography, Argentine Tango is improvised. To the girls especially, it is much easier to pick up. One can dance with
a total stranger as long as there is good connection between the couple. This why many people enjoy going to the milongas as it is where they can meet and dance with many different people.

Secondly, many other dances are learnt for competition, examinations or performances. Tango is a social dance where you only dance for yourself and for your partner at that moment, allowing you to become liberated and connected to your own personal feelings much more than other dances allow you to do so.

Also, the breadth and depth of emotions of Tango music is very broad and very deep. The variation of Tango music is large, characterized by different orchestras, singers, periods, etc. One can feel and express a huge range of emotions – happy, melancholy, romance, passion.... thus, many people claim that they never get bored dancing a whole night of tango.

Furthermore, it is said that Tango brings out the man in him and the woman in her. Tango is actually a big metaphor for life, about how men and women should interact, and how a woman should be treated. In the milongas of the old days, women are treated as Goddesses. Many people gain higher confidence and self esteem after dancing tango, not to mention better posture, and nicer legs for the ladies. Another reason why people enjoy Argentine Tango is for the feeling of the Tango embrace. Tango is danced with the couple very close to each other, most of the time in close embrace. Hugging can give a huge “feel good” factor. For people in Asia, the close tango embrace may at first be a huge psychological barrier, but once overcome, tango starts to become addictive.

Argentine Tango is not hard to learn, and is suitable for people of all ages. In Argentina, where Tango was born, people start learning as early as the age of 7 and there are people still dancing in their 80s. As a big part of their culture, it is danced among couples, siblings, re latives, or friends. A beautiful dance which blossomed in the 30s to the 40s and was revived in the 80s, Argentine Tango is recognized as one of the world’s intangible cultural heritages by the UN, and many tango lovers now are working to protect this cultural treasure.

At Malevos Tango School, we try to bring everything that we felt from our trips to Buenos Aires to study Tango, back to Hong Kong. One of our teachers once said, most people usually just fell into Tango, without really looking for it in the first place. Hope that one day, Malevos Tango will stumble into your lives, and perhaps you will find something you never expected to find, as we all did.


Now in Hong Kong, around 300 people dance Argentine Tango, of which half are active dancers, danceing at least once a week at the milongas (tango party) in Hong Kong that are held almost every night in different locations. The average age of the tangueros in Hong Kong is around 25-45, with the community etting incresingly younger as more young people are becoming attracted to this unique dance.



P.S. Did I forget to mention, people who dance Tango dress very nicely to the milongas. Tango is a great reason to dress up nicely to go dancing every week, whether alone or with your partner! Check out our boutique at Malevos Tango School and indulge yourselves in the sexiest heels imported from Argentina and the beautiful tango fashions of Sandrini !


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A "Milonga" is a social party for dancing tango. Before going to your first milonga, we encourage you to read the following so you will know what to expect there and enjoy yourselves!
    
Things to note at a milonga:

The Tango dress code - "Elegance"
Men should wear a suit (or shirt and jacket), as most women will tend to dress up nicely for a milonga. Usually you can tell who's a better dancer from the way he's dressed. Take care of your personal hygiene, use a deodorant or perfume. Have breathmints ready. Don't dance if you are sweating a lot, it is always a good idea to bring a fan or a handkerchief for that.

"Tanda" a set of music
The Music at a milonga is played in sets of 3 or 4 tangos, forming one "Tanda", with a piece of non-tango music called the "Cortina" in between each set. The beginning of a tanda marks the time when you should start inviting people to dance, while the end of the tanda (or the start of the cortina) marks the time when the dance is finished and the leader escorts the lady back to her seat. There should be no dancing during the cortina.

"Ronda" - the line of dance
A Leader follows the line of dance, which are "invisible lanes" on the dance floor in anti-clockwise direction. The centre of the dancefloor is for beginners who cannot navigate or those who don't want to be restrained by the ronda. Following the ronda is a form of respect of people dancing around you as we are sharing the same dance floor, which can get very crowded. The following are some tips of ensuring a smooth line of dance:


"Cabeceo" - the code of invitation
Cabeceo is a non verbal way of inviting each other to dance. By using Cabeceo, it is ensured that both the man and the lady want to dance with each other at that particular moment. When the tanda starts, leaders and followers look around to catch each other's eyes. When a pair establishes eye contact, the man will gesture to the lady and the lady responses with a nod. The man then walks to the lady, and it is not until he is in front of her that she will stand up and both enter the dance floor together. After the tanda, the man escorts the lady back to her seat.




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The Tango is more like one kind of "the classical arts" or a "design", which is limited by the framework of "truth, goodness, beauty" of tango. Within this framework, the dancer is free; out of the framework, it is not the Tango. Many people try to melt the other dances into tango, saying it is art, and art is to be free; but in fact, just like the Chinese fried noodle mixed with Italian meat pasta will not become better or more taste. 


The way of the beauty of action design, the Leading and following methods, or techniques, could be some differences between different schools or areas. These can be said to be "different style between schools", or "School Styles". That is why one student should not just go to learn from different well-known dancers or jump into different workshops or festivals, try as more as possible, and lose yourself in these so many different school styles. It would help your tango more if you focus on one good teacher or tango couple within a fixed system for a period of time. It may take years till nothings you can learn from him/her anymore. Then you shall think about search a new teacher. 

It is important to know the different "styles of Argentine Tango" in order to understand the history of the development of Argentine Tango. When talking about “styles”, it is not used to categorize what “type” of tango any one person or couple is dancing. The different “styles” merely describes the stages of the development of the techniques or qualities in Tango through its evolution. What most people dance now can either be purely of one style (or technique), or a mixture of several.  

Tangueros they dance different "style" basing on tango's root in old days when tango was purer and develop slowly with the situation of Buenos Aires. Even in the same style group, they still look various when seeing their dancing. From time to time, people dance mix of these 4 styles. You can see the final one in the video Juan Copes dance "Fantasia" style, but in the same time he uses steps or elements from "Canyengue", from "Orillero", from "Salon". 

Nowadays when many people have some confuses between "TANGO styles" and "SCHOOL styles", even "AREA styles"; even try to create more names for style.... but actually they all could be linked to the original 4 tango styles. So-called "Milongueros (style)" is a from central of Buenos Aires, where space is less so people dance more closely and do fewer steps and figures; it could be treated as a mix like "small-salon". A "Nuevo (style)" is from late 90' some people try to break the traditional rules and more with "contact improvisation" of Morden dance; it’s more like a “Tango mixed with Morden dance”, and every Nuevo dancers dance very very differently. "Villa Urquiza (style)" is not a style but a zone or neighborhood of B.A., though the people there create more steps and figures in the old days coz there is bigger space for dance. 

Many years ago when I was still very young in tango, I ever asked one so-called "Nuevo style" tango teacher, what's the difference about Nuevo between traditional or classic tango. He laughed and said, there is no Nuevo style to dancers from BA, it is just "the marketing stuff from the organizers or people outside of Argentine. Tango is tango." Later, I saw an interview of an old milonguero, he said, "I don't know what is "milongueros style", I dance my style and I am a milonguro, so they call it "Milonguero Style", but all the milongeuros dance differently." 

When we understand more and go deeper in tango, we would like to focus on developing our own tango, instead of trying to define which styles people are dancing, unless you were a real tango historicist from decades later. 

Nowadays people dance the tango, which is the mix of "the tango styles" plus "school style". As a tango lover, we need to know the root of tango styles and try to dance people with different school styles. Anyway, you will find and dance "your own style" finically. And that is your tango. :)



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