At the heart of Argentina, in the souls of all the people, is an immense love for the tango dance. You’ll find it happening on the street corners, in the subways, and in restaurants. It’s as if the locals’ emotions are expressed in dance!
It’s in their blood!
Don’t Miss The Tango in Argentina
We knew when visiting Argentina, we would have to indulge in a professional tango performance. The fancy dinner hall, beautiful women in extravagant dresses, and young peppy men waiting to get their feet a tappin’ sounded too appealing to miss.
We chose a first-class venue in Buenos Aires for a tango show that included a 3-course dinner. It was the perfect way to get a glimpse of the tango culture and music. The women had tons of makeup with gorgeous hair. They looked too fancy and delicate to imagine they would be dancing their hearts out – I can’t imagine trying to dance that fast in heels that big! They sure knew their way around the dance floor.
The Culture of Tango
The tango is a very sociable dance – no shy people here! Friends or just groups of people will join in a dance and start the tango. A common place is in the subway train stations underground because the music has a nice echo. Most often what we would refer to as a “dance-off” occurs after working hours almost every night of the week.
In most of Argentina, the custom for the workday is to work from around 7am to noon with a “siesta” until 4pm and return from 4-8pm — all of which works even better with a mug of yerba mata after the siesta! It seems like a very odd schedule to have such a gap of time during the middle of the day but because it stays light outside for so long in their summertime, the day seems like it is just ending at 8pm. Or for Argentines, the night is just beginning!
The Dancing Style
The Argentine tango is very different from other types of tango, mostly noticeable in the embrace. Where most tangos keep a distance within the dance embrace, these dancers get very close. It’s sometimes considered a “sexual” dance because the dancers are so entwined. Often the man will pick up the woman and twirl or dip her very low during parts of it, and their moves are almost like a mating dance. The sharp, quick dance moves in tune with the music fills the audience with the passionate emotion from the dancers.
The best part about the tango in Argentina is the role it plays in their culture. Some countries have a tradition that loses its place with the people due to modernizing or tourism. But, Argentina is still just as passionate about the tango as they were years ago because both the young and the old play a very active role in it. Visiting a country that has a strong link to a cultural tradition is one of the highlights of traveling.
Take A Tango Lesson
One of the best ways to learn about the tango is to take a lesson. Often the hotel or hostel you stay at will offer one in the evening. If not, there are fliers everywhere advertising lessons. There are free lessons as well as paid lessons depending on how much you want to learn. Learning from a local is a great way to get some new moves and even ask questions about the history of tango in Argentina.
The tango is not something you want to miss when traveling in Argentina. It is a fun and engaging dance that draws a crowd every time. Whether you visit a professional performance or scout the streets for some local improv tango, you won’t be disappointed! You can see why the Argentines feel proud of their heritage that has such a deep cultural root intertwined in the country.
About the Author
Landon and Alyssa Carlson are a California couple who left their life in San Diego two years ago to see what adventures they could find outside the “box” they were stuck in. Former engineer and teacher, they quit their jobs, sold everything they owned, and headed out to explore the world. They have spent majority of their time in Latin America and are currently exploring Asia.