One place you’ll want to learn Tango in Buenos Aires
Having watched the World Tango Championships in Colombia the year before, I had seen this foot-flicking dance at its best and was keen to try my hand (or feet) at this Argentine art form. Where better to be learning the tango in Buenos Aires, than in the birthplace of tango itself, and at a nonprofit organization in the city.
The Argentine Tango Foundation is situated at Avenue Córdoba, and helps to improve the lives of children living on the street using the teaching of dance as a method of social and economic integration. Tango classes are offered here from the basic tango introduction to advanced. Other classes cover tango technique, and also Tango Canyengue – the original way in which tango was danced.
The oldest Tango was heard in the late 19th Century by Rosendo Mendizabal, a pianist. As most dances seem to originate, tango was born in the poor neighborhoods of Argentina’s capital, in the mid Nineteenth-century. It is traditionally played with a violin, bass and a bandoneon, a musical instrument which looks very similar to an accordion.
Tango doesn’t have be with just couples as it can be performed in groups and even men with men. Not needing any of the technicalities or right cheek to left cheek contact (with the face that is), I was here for an introduction to this sensual, Latin American dance.
As I arrived, the room was swinging with salsa beats and couples shimmying across the floor. As the group dispersed, just six of us remained, eager for our Tango class.
Damien, our dance instructor for the next hour explained about the history of the tango and the moves we were going to learn. I kept up as much as I could with the Spanish speaking lesson, focusing on his body language to gage my next move.
Starting in a circle, we began by moving our feet in and out slowly, pulling our toes through invisible sticky honey to form a smooth flow. Then once we had mastered the dragging of the feet, it was time to practice in couples.
I found myself being paired up with a rather somber-looking Argentine man who was here on his second lesson and taking this dance very seriously.
Now the music was playing and I was about to put what I had learned into practice. Holding each other’s arms in a firm stance, we glided (or rather walked stiffly), backwards and then stopped before we crashed into a wall.
After what felt like ages, I decided to jazz it up a bit. We changed direction. This time going back and forth in a continuous flow. Daniel came around and straightened our pose, and we were off again, each time trying to improve our technique. We were lost in the tango rhythm. There were no fancy swirls, no throwing my legs or arms around, just dramatic steps with our faces looking as serious as our dance moves.
An hour passed and I never did get to leg-flick (maybe that’s later on). But I did get to help improve the lives of children living on the street, and dance the tango with an Argentinian. Definitely one for the bucket list (although I don’t think I’ll be invited on Strictly Come Dancing anytime soon).
Tango Classes at the Argentine Tango Foundation
If you would like to help support the spread and preservation of tango culture to local kids, I definitely recommend taking a class here. Daniel was a great teacher and very patient with us. Tango classes are $8 and are held every hour and a half starting at 5pm. The last class begins at 11pm and no group is larger than 20 people. You can book directly through Argentine Tango Foundation’s page on Visit.org