The Argentinian tango: secrets, main figures and history

September 18, 2019

This dance originating from Argentina and Uruguay is famous all over the world for its sensuality: here is all you need to know about its history.

Tango dancers in Argentina

Tango is a musical genre and dance from Rio de la Plata region. It originated in Argentina and Uruguay and includes music, dance and lyrics. The Argentine musician Enrique Santos Discepolo defined tango as "a sad thought that is danced." When travelers visit Argentina one of the main attractions that they normally want to see are the tango shows.

Famous for its elegant and sensual movements, tango is a genre that is based on improvisation, where the basic step is the normal pace of the walk and the basic dance position is an asymmetric embrace between man and woman. Improvisation in tango is based on a simple rule: the man leads and the woman follows him.

According to the music rhythm used, there are three varieties of tango: the real tango, with a time of four or two quarters, the Milonga, with a time of two quarters and the Tango Vals, with a three-quarter time.

Couple of tango dancers in Argentina
Tango is known to be a sensual dance.

The origins of tango

Tango was born in the late nineteenth century in Argentina and Uruguay influenced by popular music of the period such as Milonga, Candombe, Tango Andaluz and Habanera. Initially a typical dance of the poor classes, the tango met international success around 1910, when it began to be danced in the salons and theaters of the big cities.

At the beginning the tango was accompanied by a trio of violin, guitar and flute, but since the twentieth century the instruments that accompany it are piano, violin and Bandoneón, similar to the accordion. Following this, orchestras were even born.

The figures of tango

Tango is based on improvisation, but there are still some figures used mostly for educational purposes. Here are a few:

  • The walk: it is the basic shape of the tango and is perhaps the most difficult to achieve despite appearances.
  • Square or Baldosa: it is a figure that draws a rectangle, in six steps.
  • Salida basica: a teaching sequence of eight steps.
  • Ocho: figure with which the man has the woman drawing a '"eight" by making her rotate.
  • Giro: the man turns the woman around his axis.
  • Sacada: you have this figure when one partner invades the other's space with a movement towards the leg on which the weight of his/her body is not resting.
  • Parada: when the man interrupts the pace of the woman.
  • Barrida: figure in which one of the two dancers moves away the foot of the other, on which there is no weight. It is actually an optical effect.

If you are planning your trip, you cannot think of leaving Argentina without first admiring this dance, performed by professional dancers.

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