Hello Tango World. This post initiates Tango Voice, the voice of Tango Argentino for North America. Its goal is to send accurate information about Tango Argentino to North America from behind the cultural barriers that prevent this.
Within the vast tango territory of North America (culturally, the United States and Canada), there exists a form of dance and music that is typically labeled as “Argentine tango”. This implies there is something “Argentine” about the dance and the music. Oftentimes the character of dancing and the musical background for the dancing bear little resemblance to the tango that is danced in Argentina. In order to be called “Argentine tango”, the dance should resemble the characteristics of tango danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires, the birthplace and cultural standard for tango (argentino).
The tango that is danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires is almost always danced in a maintained (close) embrace. Dancers travel in a line of dance that progresses counterclockwise around the floor. There is no passing of other dancers in the line of dance. Dancers keep their movements confined to the available space, not invading the space of other dancers on the floor, e.g., by lifting their feet off the floor or kicking into the air in the space around them. The music played for dancing tango is classic tango music from the 30s, 40s, and 50s.
At milongas in North America it is quite common to see dancers breaking the embrace, dancing at arm’s length; in fact, it is unusual to see couples maintaining a close embrace throughout the dance. There is often a poorly defined line of dance, with some dancers occupying a space and not progressing, others moving in numerous directions across the floor, colliding or nearly colliding with other dancers. Lifting the feet off the floor in kicking movements is commonplace. It is not unusual and, at some venues, common for music other than classic tango to be played for dancing what is believed to be tango.
Some part of this is just bad dancing and bad selection of music. Some part of this is based on ignorance of Argentine tango culture. Another part is based on active defiance of Argentine tango culture while still retaining the name “Argentine tango” for advertising purposes.
Thus, in North America, tango argentino is not well represented at social dance events that are advertised as “milongas”. It is inaccurate and a misrepresentation of Argentine tango culture to state that ‘Argentine tango’ is danced at a ‘milonga’ when the dancing and the environment do not resemble the milongas of Buenos Aires.
This blog is initiated to counter the prevailing tendency to misrepresent tango argentino in North America. It will provide a clearer perspective on tango argentino, and the differences between tango practiced in Buenos Aires and the predominant representation of ‘Argentine tango’ in North America. Strategies for promoting a culturally accurate practice of tango argentino will be addressed.
This blog is not a diary of personal tango experiences. This blog is about how tango argentino is practiced and promoted in North America compared to Argentina, in order to overcome the cultural divide.