Dancing Tango

Tango Dancing 💃🏻 🕺 🎵

Tango is a couple and social dance that originated in South America and was subsequently developed in Western Europe. This has since given rise to two different forms of tango, which will be discussed in more detail later.

The most common time signature is 2/4 time, although in some versions it is also danced to a 4/4 time signature. However, it is true for all forms that they are very spirited and passionate, but also sad and melancholic. It is precisely because of the great amount of emotion that tango dancing expresses that it is a very popular dance and known all over the world.

Table of Contents

History of origin

Tango dancing originated in Argentina in the mid to late 19th century. At that time, several million immigrants came from all kinds of countries, cultures and social classes. Since not all of them could find a job or a purpose in life, they began to express their feelings in music and dance. Since it was mainly poorer people who danced tango at first, the dance was not very respected socially and the upper class did not want to have anything to do with it. 

However, as the dance became better known and more widespread, people from the upper social classes were able to become friends with it, and so the tango became a genuine Argentinean cultural asset.

Worldwide Spread

Especially the spread to Europe did good to the reputation of the dance. In Paris, d tancing tango was introduced from Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century. There, too, it had some difficulties at the beginning, because it was considered indecent and insinuating. However, due to the influences of other, classical standard dances, tango was quickly adapted to European ideas. Since then, tango has become an established and widely danced dance that is popular all over the world.


As with many other dances, tango has a music style of the same name to which it is danced. Originally, this music was played exclusively with a violin, guitar and flute by so-called tango trios. Over time, however, the music has changed and new instruments and styles have been added. So nowadays there are also forms of tango music that go strongly in the direction of pop or electro.

Dance styles

Especially through the spread to Europe, many different forms of tango dancing have developed, which are quite different in their practice. They are mainly characterized by the influences of other dances and cultures, so that one can no longer say that tango is tango.

Tango Argentino

Tango Argentino is the most original and oldest form of classical tango. Moreover, it is also the best known form, although one of the most sorrowful, especially in terms of music. Thus, Tango Argentino is often described as quiet, melancholic and gentle, and many movements are rather slow. The name is, of course, due to its Argentine origin, although dancers omit the name suffix in their home country and only speak of Tango when they mean Tango Argentino.

International Tango

The European standard form of tango has many different names. Sometimes one speaks of the international, sometimes of the European and sometimes of the English Tango. Just as with Tango Argentino, however, the dancers themselves usually speak simply of tango when they mean their form of the dance. Compared to the original Argentinian dance, this form of tango is somewhat faster, livelier and more hot-blooded.

Tango Waltz

The Tango Waltz is also called Vals or Tango Vals and is, as the name suggests, a mixture of Tango and Waltz. This dance is danced in ¾ time, which is otherwise rather unusual for tango. The influences on the tango side are mainly due to the Tango Argentino, although the Vals is a much more dynamic and snappy variant.

Tango Flamenco

Tango Flamenco is also a mix of two dances. Here the Tango meets the southern Spanish Flamenco. A large characteristic is thereby that with the Tango Flamenco above all alone one dances and completely new movement sequences, as well as dance attitudes find application. Thus the Tango Flamenco has only relatively little to do with the classical Tango.


Compared to the classical types of tango, the milonga is a much faster version and is danced with different step sequences. Several classical tango movements do not appear in the milonga at all, as it is kept simple and even predates the Tango Argentino and all its figures, steps and movements.


The Candombe originated even a little earlier than the Milonga and is therefore also an ancestor of the Tango Argentino. It also originated in South America and was influenced by Afro-Latin Americans. Compared to the classical tango music with guitars, violins and flutes, the Candombe music is mainly created with different drums.

Show Tango

Show tango or stage tango is a form of tango that is danced on stages in front of an audience. It can be any style of tango, although show tango is often dictated by choreography and is less spontaneous.

Other Shapes

This list could probably be continued indefinitely, since many styles in turn have their own styles and these can also be subdivided. For example, Tango Nuevo is a subcategory of Tango Argentino, just like Tango Apilado, Tango de Fantasia or Tango Acrobatico. In addition, there are sometimes more than five names for one and the same dance style, which means that an enumeration is probably never quite complete. 

In addition, various countries have their own form of tango, such as Uruguay or Finland. However, this again shows how popular and widespread tango is all over the world.

Description of Tango dancing

Tango is a quiet and emotional dance, where the man classically leads the woman and gives the dance steps. In this dance, the dancer (with the right arm) and the woman dancer (with the left arm) embrace each other at the upper back. The other two hands are interlocked and held diagonally upward, approximately at the level of the chin. The knees of the dancers are slightly bent most of the time.

Basic Steps

Compared to many other dances, the basic steps of the tango cannot be fixed so well, because the dance is very much improvised and little is given. Classically, the man starts with a step forward with the left and then the right foot. Then follows a step forward with the left foot diagonally, with the foot and the upper body making a quarter turn. 

This sequence is completed with the right foot catching up next to the left foot. Then this movement is performed backwards, with the woman performing the mirrored sequences the entire time.

Further Steps

Besides the described basic steps, there are other turns, longer as well as shorter steps and a tight crossing of the legs. All these further steps have special Spanish names, whereby, similarly as with the dance styles, a complete listing of all special steps is almost impossible.


The same is true for the figures that are danced in tango. These are again certain step sequences in a given order, for which there is also a Spanish name in each case. Among the best known figures are Ochos (Through step sequences and turns a figure 8 is danced on the floor), Quebradas (The man bends forward with his upper body over the woman’s upper body leaning backwards) and Ganchos (The dance partners swing one leg around the other’s leg and enclose it).

Worth mentioning about Tango dancing

Tango is an undisputed ballroom dance, danced in competitions all over the world. More controversial is the origin of its name. However, it is probable that the name refers to the tango, which originally meant the gathering of African-American people to perform a dance accompanied by drums.

Where does tango come from?

In its original form, the tango comes from South America, namely from Argentina and Uruguay. It was further developed in Western Europe, especially in France and England.

Is tango difficult to learn?

It is not easy to say whether Tango is difficult to learn, because not all Tango is the same. However, the basic steps of tango are easy to learn, as it is a rather quiet dance.

What is the best way to learn tango?

As with any other dance, the best way to learn tango is to practice and try it out. To do this, you should attend a tango dance class at a dance school and you will quickly notice progress.

What is the difference between tango and tango argentino?

Tango Argentino is the most original form of tango and differs from international tango mainly in its basic mood and speed.

What do you wear to dance tango?

Classically, women wear longer dresses or bell-bottoms to tango. Men also wear wide pants and are dressed smartly with a shirt or suit on top. Although it is generally true that you should wear what you feel comfortable in to dance, you should avoid wearing sneakers to tango.

How many tangos are there?

It is impossible to put an exact number on how many tangos there are, since many styles have their own subcategories, many countries have their own tangos, and many tangos have several different names. In general, however, it can be stated that there are very many different tangos.

What does the word tango mean?

The word tango nowadays only describes the dance of the same name. In the past, it meant the gathering of African-American people where they performed a dance with the accompaniment of drums.

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