This blog has initiated to counter the prevailing tendency to misrepresent tango argentino in North America. It provides 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 are 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.
Just found your blog as I was searching for more info on Tango Queer. I like what I see so far and am looking forward to sinking my teeth into your writing. I’m in Calgary, teaching/hosting tango with an open mind amongst many with closed. Check out my blog at http://speakingtango.wordpress.com/
This all reads extremely tediously for me. Hopefully everybody gets on the dancefloor sometimes and pays the most attention to their partner and less to everyone else… maybe I’ll come back in awhile to see if this all gets a bit less academic/anal in nature as it’s this kind of vibe that, to my mind, makes the “cultural divide” referenced…
Yes, it is very important to pay attention to one’s partner when dancing tango. However, that is only part of the milonga environment. There are codes of the milonga to be observed, a culture to be respected, at least if one is to call an activity ‘Argentine Tango’. Part of these codes includes respecting the space of other couples on the floor. Another part is to not be an exhibitionist on the pista (there is another place for that – the stage). Finally, one should not demand music to be played that is not designed for tango (i.e., ‘alternative’). These are behaviors that are prevalent in milongas in North America and elsewhere outside Argentina that prevent the creation of an environment similar to the milongas in Buenos Aires. While it may seem ‘tedious’ or ‘anal’ to some to discuss such issues, it is ignorant at best or disrespectful at worst to ignore the cultural milieu in which tango argentino is danced.
Agreed, and thanks for the work on this.
I’d like to also suggest that you take a look at my tango blog. It forms an interesting contrast with yours, as mine is a personal diary of my tango experiences and I live and dance in Buenos Aires. Maybe we could share the link love? http://www.tangoaddiction.wordpress.com
I recently wrote an entry which you might wish to compare with yours: “A Question of Style”.
Very Good writing about tango music. I strongly share your point of view. I am a traditional Argentine Tango DJ and an organizer who understands the pressure to “go nuevo”.
A few things I would add to your post-
– Argentine Tango is about connecting to your partner – not about just whirling about the floor to any music having a good time. It is deeper and far more profound than that, and I absolutely believe that the only way to experience and enjoy the very rich complexity of the dance is to go deeper, and it has become quite obvious over the years, that neotango music and dance does not get you to that place. the essence or the “purpose” of the dance is aborted when dancing to neotango, alternative, etc.
– There are indeed many milongas in the USA where only traditional tango is played- I play at several of them in NYC, Boston, Woodstock, Miami etc.
– I would like to see an update on the scene on Buenos Aires where nuevo/neo tango is quickly dying out, especially with young people, according to what I experienced in July 2011, and according to the many porteño artists visiting NYC who say while there might be a handful of neuvo practicas, there is no growth and that the young people have come back to traditional.
– I would also like to see a reference to Chicho Fromboli’s recent comments about how he deeply regrets forsaking the embrace of traditional tango for the free-wheeling movements of nuevo -style tango.
One last thing, I am really uncomfortable talking with someone whose name I do not know. Can you at least tell us what country you are from??? 😉
Woodstock./NYC , New York
Dear Ilene, let me address your points one by one.
First: my anonymity.
I apologise for still wishing the maintain the pseudonymity of my blog. I want to be able to write freely about both good and bad experiences in the tango world, without censoring myself or fearing for my reputation as a dancer or my abilities to get dance partners, etc. Also, although I always try to write from a deeply personal, subjective perspective, tango is always danced with another person, so descriptions of experiences I have had with specific partners appear in the blog. In general, these people know of their appearance in the blog. But staying pseudonymous helps me to preserve their anonymity, too. Not all of them would like everyone on the web to know who they are. Revealing my country of origin (a small, unusual one) would reveal my identity. And it is irrelevant to the blog, in any case, since I rarely dance tango there: I live and dance in Buenos Aires.
As for the questions that you ask about nuevo in Buenos Aires: I write regularly about my experiences in Buenos Aires and the milongas there. If you check out the blog, you will find many recent entries which may address some of these issues.
As for discussing Chicho, etc. in more depth. My blog is not primarily a discursive blog (the entry on tango styles was an exception to the general tone of the blog). I believe there are already many discursive blogs out there. I am a creative writer: that is the kind of writing I feel drawn to, and enjoy doing about tango. I think there are enough discussion-based blogs about tango out there. I do ‘virtually chair’ some tango discussions on my Facebook (as “Terpsichoral Tangoaddict”).
Here is my latest blog entry to give you an idea of what I mean by a more creative, less discursive, approach to this topic:
PS Everything I wrote referred to nuevo as a style of dancing. I very rarely indeed hear non-traditional, neo or non-tango music at the milongas here. And most nuevo dancers I know (and they are few — nuevo is very out of fashion) prefer to dance to Golden Age tango music.
PS Ilene, why don’t you leave a comment on the original entry in the blog: http://tangoaddiction.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/a-question-of-style/
Thank you for being academic and anal! I really don’t have the time and energy for it. I much prefer being flippant and brief. Thank goodness someone does the hard work for me. I’ll be citing you as a source in the future.
PS Do you have a private channel for chatting/emailing/talking? I have a few ideas I’d like to run by you about tango nuevo. I’ve read almost all your posts now and I think it might be something you haven’t touched on yet.
Tango Voice is designed for public discourse. However, there is no chat option. Any reader can post a comment as a response to a specific topic and request that the comments remain private (and this is respected) or, if anonymity is desired, can comment publicly as ‘anonymous’. The content is more important than identity here. At times (rarely) private comments may be communicated to the public without revealing the identity of the commenting person. Offline replies directly to individuals are not part of the communication options for Tango Voice.
Just discovered your blog and read the lengthy article on types of embrace and your analysis of how they are used in B.A., together with links to that wonderful video archive of milongas. I’m so grateful that you posted this. I’ve been studying tango for a short while and have been grappling with these many issues while learning. In fact, I’ve started my own blog (tango-high-and-low.com) to try to delineate my own perspective on the learning experience. Glad someone mentioned tango-and-chaos, it’s been my bible ever since I discovered it. Now I have your site to add to my list. Thanks for all the hard work.
This is my last day in BsAs after 3 weeks. I just found your article on The Essence of the Tango – the embrace. What a fabulous article! I so wish I had found it before I arrived. As a follower, it would have answered so many questions and confusions. I can tell I will enjoy your other articles as well. Thank you!
I’m curious as to why Pampa Cortés was left off the list of teaching and performing professionals at the 1997 Stanford Tango Week? He taught workshops and performed in the evening shows. I was his translator & assistant. Given his international stature and (at that time 36 year) professional career, he should be given his rightful place with the other professionals. By the way – he passed away in April 2014 and I’m glad he never saw the posting. He was proud to have taught at Stanford Tango Week. Thank you.
This was not intentional. Perhaps it was an oversight in the post Trans-Cultural Diffusion and Adaptation of Tango Argentino in the 20th Century. The link to the Stanford Tango Week web page cited in this post, listing the names of the instructors, is no longer available.
Thank you, Tangovoice, for the explanation. Much appreciated. (I just saw your response.)
We are so happy to have found your website!!! We are an Argentina-born couple dancing Argentine Tango since the 50s. We have been teaching Argentine Tango dancing in the East Coast and in Arizona for 16 years. What you guys are all about is something we found quite difficult to make our students aware of. Yet, we feel it is impossible to become a good genuine Argentine Tango dancer unless you develop at least an awareness (preferably an understanding) of the entire Buenos Aires culture surrounding the dancing. Understanding the differences between Argentine Tango and American Argentine Tango is a fundamental ingredient in the recipe for the development of Argentine Tango dancers who dance it from the heart. We are looking forward to making positive contributions to your mission.
Hi, thank you for putting this together. This is a great resource and I wish I had found this earlier. I wonder whether there are any online communities or social networks for traditional tango milonguero. I have been dancing tango since the late 1990s and have always been sceptical about the way tango has been evolving. This blog resonates with my experiences. We are now trying to start a traditional milonga in China among the standard line up of commercial faux milongas in the process of being established here. So we would like to connect to other people for advice and support in creating an authentic tango community. I would agree with the idea of creating a Traditional Milonga brand along the lines you outline on this site. We need some way of preserving, differentiating and promoting traditional milongas. What would also be helpful is to have links to the wider community so that we can differentiate ourselves from commercial faux milonga outfits and communicate this to our students. For example, one of our students headed to study at a university in Chicago and has asked us for advice on the tango scene there. But we don’t know whether we can recommend anyone there. It would be helpful to have some sort of discussion forum and/or Facebook group for this sort of thing. Any advice would be helpful.Thanks again.
Hello, I found Tangovoice a very informative site where ideas and opinions and information about the tango and milongas can be found . Im a relative new to the tango world loving the to dance to the traditional close embrace with the respective music. Also strt the adventure to dj in a smal milonga in the town where i live ( no tango around here ). So this site has given me a very useful info. Thanks very much ..!
It is good to know that Tango Voice is serving as a source of information regarding tango, even to newcomers. It is also good to know that dancers new to tango are interested in traditional tango, especially considering the emphasis on culturally modified versions of tango that are promoted by many (probably most) tango instructors. Good luck in the tango journey!
Looking back at the older articles, I realise the site is 10 years old this year. That’s quite an achievement. While some of the articles here are pretty controversial, I think they do provoke discussions and analysis — unfortunately I think lack of awareness, dissemination, and sufficient forum participants form a barrier against that, plus the academic and talking-down tone of the articles and anonymity of the authors. Perhaps a good milestone, at 10 years old, is to reflect if the site has succeeded in getting its messages across, and whether the tango universe has gained any insights as a result.
There is a Tango Establishment that promotes tango for economic gain. Many bloggers are part of this establishment and promote what is economically profitable, that which is readily acceptable to those unfamiliar with tango culture and history. In contrast, Tango Voice challenges prevailing misconceptions regarding tango, in order to arrive at the essence of tango as it evolved as a unique dance in Argentina, before it was corrupted by contemporary First World cultural and economic influences. If this is considered to be controversial by some readers, that’s too bad; someone needs to speak out against the misrepresentation of tango promulgated by those seeking economic gain.
Tango Voice posts actually do stimulate a considerable amount of discussion, with viewpoints from many sides of issues represented. Only the most offensive comments are censored. There may be fewer comments than received by other blogs, but those received usually indicate more thoughtfulness than just complimenting the blogger.
As to whether Tango Voice has achieved its purpose, perhaps this needs to be evaluated against what tango would be like if this blog did not exist, rather than how popular the views presented here are compared to the views presented in other blogs. The future will reveal whether tango traditions survive or whether contemporary experimentation using the name of tango causes the extinction of Traditional Tango. It is hoped that the writings in Tango Voice help prevent the latter.
I just found your blog and I love it!
From “El Cachafaz” to Juan Carlos Copes and Miguel Zotto, the only way for an Argentinian to get money as a professional dancer was to bow to the requirements of the American Film Industry that liked to depict the Tango Argentino as a Folk dance caricature from the times of Rudolph Valentino’s movie “the four horsemen of the apocalypse”. The famous actor Robert Duvall in his movie “Assassination Tango” didn’t made any favour to the Argentine Tango danced in the Milongas of Buenos Aires.
So, in this era of Cinema, it is only natural that people believe that the Argentine Tango shown on the movies and on the “broadway shows” are the real thing, which is not … Worst even, it was inciting many young Argentinians of Buenos Aires to develop that kind of “Folkore Tango” as their dream to be the “ticket” for a better life in USA.
So, thanks for your blog, for being a Voice against the stream of a kind of “Fake Tango”.
This is a persistent problem in introducing tango to a naive public. Many have already been exposed to exhibition tango in movies, shows, and on YouTube.
Yes, Argentine dance-school trained dancers, many of whom have not participated in milongas in Buenos Aires, find a way to make a living by selling a brand of tango that foreigners have been exposed to through the media.
So the misrepresentation persists and people profit from it.
Hi, You are one of the most academic and thoughtful writers of Tango of which I am aware and I have a topic that I’d like to see considered: When might we be returning to Tango after/during Covid-19 and how might social dancing emerge from the shelter-in-place environment that we have now? How might Tango change?
Tango, and social dancing in general, is the anthesis of social distancing unfortunately. Tango with its extremely close connection is probably the ‘worst’ of the dances in terms of distancing so it’s likely to be the greatest impacted. I have some thoughts or discussion points on the overall subject:
* Social dancing venues and dance studios may be among the very last to open up. Perhaps only after widespread testing and the finding that if one has been infected that you do have resistance will dancing be allowed.
* Will young people (the least likely for serious symptoms or death) be the first back to Tango? If so, how might Milongas change in terms of the music played and the type of dancing (more Nuevo?).
* Although I have attempted some research on the topic, I was unable to find anything on how the dance community of 1918 during the Spanish Flu, dealt with the virus. The Spanish Flu ended as most people developed anti-bodies (or died). I imagine that it was probably quite a while before dancing returned to daily life. When it did, were people dancing the same dances or new? How long before dancing was popular again?
Well, that’s what I am thinking about as I go through Tango withdrawls and want to consider how we in the Tango community might get restarted sometime in the future.
Thanks and be safe.
A post dealing with many of these issues was already in preparation at the time this comment was received. This post will be released within the next several days.
I went back to tango for the first time since December 2019 last week. Everyone was required to wear masks and that made me (along with 5 vaccinations!) feel safe enough. Everyone washed their hands between partner changes. The fact that masks were obligatory made my decision. It wasn’t optional and everyone, young and older, just took it as the new way (for now). It was re-assuring and it enabled me to return. I registered for Tango 2 even though I’ve been in tango for many years – just to go back to the beginning. I was with totally new people and it was refreshing and amazing to be back. The magic is still there and my feet remembered what to do!
Environments for dancing tango 2.5 years after the onset of the Covid pandemic have varied, from the most cautious – vaccine + booster required with masks and possibly partner fidelity – to – masks optional / don’t ask don’t tell vaccine status / dance with whomever open environment. Each person will find their own comfort zone. There are epidemiologic, economic, and cultural consequences of these decisions by organizers and their supporters. The more open environments are likely to be populated by younger single dancers and the more cautious environments by older partnered dancers. Observations and reports have indicated that the more open environments, being less exclusive, have higher attendance. Whether this has demographic consequences for the future of tango remains to be seen, but if these trends are the seeds for future tango cultural developments, it is likely that Traditional Tango will be less visible on the tango landscape, with more innovative and exploratory interpretations of tango becoming more prevalent; this will also affect future recruitment.
For a more extensive discussion of these and related issues, visit The Long Term Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Tango,
Future posts will continue to discuss these issues.
Dear Tango Voice. I have spent much of the pandemic deeply immersed in studying the orchestras and found in that a desire to DJ. I have been creating a library and have started DJing small house parties. A friend shared your blog with me and a big HUG and THANK you for catapulting my study and perfecting my skills. I minored in music history and enthnomusicology decades ago in college and now I’ve revived my love for deep listening and programming music (did this as a radio DJ of pop/rock music in the 80s) OF course, all this music study has greatly improved my dancing too! GRACIAS for sharing your knowledge so generously…whoever you are 🙂 XXOO