Easy steps to learn to dance the Tango

Tango was born in the working-class suburbs of Buenos Aires around the 1870s, and was banned in public places for being too voluptuous and improper.  Now here is what you need to know to master this once forbidden dance.

Easy steps to learn to dance the Tango

Get into character

Start by thinking yourself into character. It takes two to tango, but for this sensuous and dramatic dance, you also need a poker face — don't gaze longingly at your partner. It is about passion but don't over do it.

The hold

  • The man rests his right hand between the woman's shoulder blades and holds her right hand to the side.
  • Her left hand tucks behind his right arm at the armpit.
  • Torsos are angled slightly away from one another, with the woman to the man's right, and both dancers look to their left.
  • Both hold their upper body straight and move from the hips .

The movement

Tango moves are decisive, staccato (step and stop), and 'flat' with no obvious rise and fall. The dance is sexy, but not romantic. It doesn't have graceful arcs or smooth rhythms.

  • The lead person — traditionally the male — steps forward three steps: left (1), right (2), left (3) – slow, slow, quick.
  • The tempo is about 120 beats a minute and the count is slow slow quick quick slow. That's eight counts of music – two for each slow step and one for each quick. The slow steps give a feeling of stalking – this dance is a game of cat and mouse, with the man pursuing the woman.
  • Feet are planted and don't swivel. The heel should hit the floor first.
  • The man faces out from the dance floor, and the dance progresses counter clockwise around the room.
  • Steps should curve slightly to the left and can be tailored to the music, with a run of slow or quick steps that break the basic rhythm, or by adding rocking 'back and forth' steps when turning at corners.

These are the basics of the Tango. There are many versions and variations, but hopefully these pointers will get you to put the right foot forward.

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