Top 10 Reasons to Learn Argentine Tango

Note that this list does not specifically include Find a Date or Find a Mate, although both these scenarios can and do happen. What I’ve included instead is Meet People, because I think looking too hard for your counterpart can be counterproductive. Let the serendipity of tango work its magic. – Gery

1. Meet People. Every month, new people decide to try tango for the first time. And every month a few become lifelong tangueros or tangueras (male or female tango dancers). So not only do you have the opportunity to see new faces at every class series or workshop or dance, you can take the time to get to know these people. Some will become friends for life. Some might become Ms. or Mr. Right, take it from me.

2. Sexy & Elegant. There are many stylistic variations of Argentine tango, ranging from the quietest of close embraces to the high drama of show tango. The sensuality can be expressed as barely contained eroticism to playfulness to beatific intimacy. In steamy latin dances, the hips move side to side and front to back; in Argentine tango the hips only swivel. This imparts an elegance that adds grace and dignity to a dance that always has one foot in the bedroom door.

3. Low-Impact Exercise & Toning. One thing that tango (or any dance, I daresay) does not feel like is exercise. But you can burn a lot of calories dancing tango, and because you are gliding rather than stomping, you can dance for hours without a single step registering on a pedometer (personal experience talking here). Take a look at the legs of women who dance Argentine tango – they have the best-defined calves on the planet. 

4. Improves Posture & Grace. Tango is a series of simple steps – front, back, side – coupled with turns on a dime (all choreographed on the fly by the lead). The posture and balance required to execute the travel and turns impart a hypnotic fluidity to the dance. If you slouch in front of a computer, you need to tango. Trust me. (See also 7. Dance for Decades on therapeutic aspects such as improved balance.)

5. Relaxes & Rejuvenates. The dancers must be simultaneously relaxed and  instantly responsive to their partners and to the music. This Zen-like ability to dance in the moment is like meditation – with the added element (bonus!) of contact with another person. For follows (moreso than for leads, who have to do the navigating and impromptu choreography), the “tango trance” is what keeps them strapping on their stilettos. (Imagine the good feeling after sex and the good feeling of foreplay at the same time. Need I say more?)

6. Start at Any Age. Some people are fortunate enough to discover Argentine tango in their teens, 20s, or 30s. Others (like me) don’t discover it until they’re in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or later. But better late than never – tango needs to go at the top of your bucket list. As for the young, check out my 12-year-old nephew, Kenzie, (doing amazingly well) on his first try. Greg got his daughter Sara started when she was still in her teens, and she’s gone on to great things in tango. Several women have danced through their pregnancies and proud parents have been known to strap on their new baby and keep on dancing, as exemplified by our students Stani, Valentin, and their son Gabriel.

7. Dance for Decades. Some tango afficionados keep dancing on a regular basis, others take breaks – for a few weeks, even a few years – and that’s okay. Tangoing is like riding a bicycle, only way, way better. You can keep on doing it, and always come back to it. Tango ages beautifully, and keeps you from ageing prematurely. In fact, Argentine tango has been tested and used therapeutically for seniors and Parkinsons patients, noticeably improving posture and balance more than other ballroom dances or no dancing at all. As long as you can walk unaided (even if it’s slowly, and even if you have to stop a lot), you can tango – and look good doing it.

8. Tailored to Your Flexibility. You can tango by degrees. Whether you are a human pretzel or creaky and stiff, you can dance comfortably. You can do a modest “social” boleo, where your foot makes a small sweep on the floor, or swing your leg so high it looks like you’re auditioning for Forever Tango. You can take giant steps or tiny steps. You can be flamboyant (but never trashy) or dignified and discreet. However agile or restricted your movements can be or have to be, you can get out on the floor and tango.

9. Economical. Okay, not counting shoes (which can become a serious budget consideration for some women, dancers or not), tango is cheap education and entertainment. Tango classes and events  (workshops, weekly or monthly dances, festivals) provide an excellent social environment because you come into contact, literally, with new people every month and at every tango gathering and you can actually get to know these people at these venues rather than going on exploratory (and expensive) dates. For group classes and workshops (in the Seattle area), the average cost per hour is around $15. Dance cover charges run $10 or less, and there are dances held in restaurants that have no cover but buying a drink or nibbles is in order. There aren’t many ways these days to socialize (and burn calories) for hours and drive home (legally) with change from a twenty in your pocket. (Since it’s counterproductive to drink and dance, you’ll be surrounded for hours by clever and talented people who are not slurring their words and stumbling on the way to the restroom; it’s a nice change from the bar scene in the wee hours.)

10. It’s the Dance for People Who Think They Can’t Dance. Attention WASPs. And computer nerds. And shrinking violets. And everyone who thinks their butt is too big or they’re too old to learn new tricks, or whatever. If you feel embarrassed to shake your booty to salsa, you’ll feel comfortable with tango because its sizzle is more subtle. (Salsa is overtly sexual; Argentine tango is covertly sexual.) This is not a dance you grow out of because you grow out of your size 6 minidress or waist 32 jeans. It feels good forever, and that means you’ll look good forever. This is a walking dance, not a wiggling dance, and if you can walk, you can tango – it’s just a matter of learning to walk with super style.