Tango: Different Styles


Tango is a ballroom dance that originated among the working class of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 20th century. Though Tango has its influence from African, South American, and European cultures, popular cultures help shape what it is today. It has quickly evolved into a dozen distinct styles practiced in different parts of the world through popularization.

Though several differences led to the formation of distinct styles, significant distinctions between different kinds of Tango are mainly:

Leg Positioning

Leg Positioning: Legs of the dancers can be intertwined and hooked together or kept away from one another. This is one significant distinction for recognizing the style of Tango. Placement of the foot on the floor can also offer insight into different tango types, as some require landing the foot flatly on the ground, while for others, the toes.

Intimacy: The two tango dancers are almost always in some kind of embrace (called frame) when dancing the Tango. It could be either an open embrace or a close embrace where the chest or the legs are touching. This can even change several times during a single dance routine.

Speed: In contrast to other dances, such as rumba and flamenco, the Tango is a relatively slow dance. But compared to the original versions of Tango that originated in Argentina, Modern Tango is fairly fast-paced and requires quick footwork.

Three Major Different Styles of Tango:

There are plenty of variations of Tango around the world, but Tango can be classified into three major distinct styles:

Argentinian Tango: The Argentinian Tango, also known as the traditional Tango, is a style of Tango in which the dancers have their chests closer to each other than their hips. This version allows for intimacy and playfulness. This is one of the most original types of Tango that contains all the fundamental elements of traditional Argentine Tango from the 19th century.

Argentinian Tango

Ballroom tango: This version originated in Europe, is arguably the most famous version of Tango, and has been majorly used for modern ballroom dancing and international competition. In ballroom tango, there’s less intimacy than in the traditional ones, the steps are more standardized, and the dancers’ upper bodies are arched away from each other. It’s also characterized by distinct head snaps, which are not found in any different style of Tango.

North American Tango: The North American version of Tango is characterized by a slightly faster music tempo. This version of Tango is also danced to popular songs, not only tango songs. The music of North American Tango is developed by musicians such as Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla. It is used primarily as a social dance and is not commonly used in global competition.


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