What Tango Is and Isn’t

Most “Tango” shown on the large or small screen is “stage” tango, which is very different from “social” tango.  Many people think tango is something they would never be able to learn because of the athleticism and high energy required.

Myth Buster. Anyone can learn to dance social tango.

The basic step is walking. Sounds simple, and it is.  At first. However, “tango” walking can also be complex and extraordinarily interesting to dance and to watch. In general, walking involves taking one step followed by another, to the front, back or side, with or without a pivot, in parallel or crossed system, inside or outside the lower frame, in slow, quick or single time, with or without compression, lift, or torque, soft or strong, on or between beats of the music, countless combinations.

There are no set patterns or prescribed sequences. Each instructor has his/her own methods and you will likely receive different information from each, with some commonalities regarding basic principles. There is no one “right” way to do a move or figure. As with a verbal language, there are many ways of saying (doing) things as long as what we say (do) makes sense.

In the beginning we think of tango as “just a dance.”  As we come to understand it and appreciate its depth and richness, it becomes more than a dance.  And later, as it affects our life in ways we’d never dreamed of, it becomes life in a dance.

Enthusiasts of all experience levels find that tango is one of the most challenging activities they have been involved in, and the most rewarding. When people are asked what they enjoy most about tango, the majority say “connection with our partner.” Indeed, the system of silent communication between music, leader and follower can create exquisite platonic intimacy that sets tango apart from every other dance. It’s one of a kind.

As simple and natural as walking is when we do it by ourself, as soon as we connect with a partner, everything changes. We quickly discover that synchronizing movement and transfer of weight with a person in our arms is anything but simple. We become responsible to and dependent upon the person on the other side of the frame. When all goes well and we step as one, magic…and we’re on our way.


One thought on “What Tango Is and Isn’t

  1. Dear Polly:
    I am very thankful of the fact you wrote this book. Last year I published “Tango Intoxication” which was
    my 6th book. Again, thank you.
    Batt Johnson, New York

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