Strictly Countdown: What Is A Tango?

Strictly Countdown - What Is A Tango

It’s almost time! Each year, the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing introduces many new enthusiasts to the dancing community. It also poses a lot of questions for both the uninitiated and the experienced. Interestingly, many professional dancers have never been taught the history or facts behind their most famous moves. In our Strictly Countdown series, Ray Rose are giving a 101 on some of the icons. To become a tango expert, read on…

Men's Dance Shoe Guide

What’s A Tango?

The word originally comes from Niger-Congo in Africa, and means ‘drum dance’. It is a truly multicultural form. The linguistic and cultural voyage took the tango across the Southern Pacific to Argentina via, of all places, Paris. As the tango gained stamps in its passport, it picked up little tastes of national flavours. The strong rhythms of Congolese dancing, a little sensuality and sinuous style from France, and the deep passion and energy of South America are characteristic ingredients of the style. Blended into the mix are the traditional German Waltz, the Czech Polka, the African Candombe, the Argentinian Milonga, and the Cuban Habanera. And – like a Habanera Chili – this dance is a spicy, complex, and fiery one.

What Are The Main Moves?

The tango has a very regular beat. Musicians describe this as 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm, but to everyone else this just means that it follows the natural heartbeat and breath of the human body (unlike a Waltz, for example, which gives dancers a sense of constantly pushing forwards). However, the tango drives this natural rhythm to the limit. It has twenty-six figures (moves), and all of them border on the libertine.

In the early Twentieth Century, government officials watched in horror as the tango craze swept the dance halls. The first tutors who brought the dance to Paris were – astonishingly – banished from the city for committing the grave sin of introducing a dance with such overtly sensual overtones. However, their students of this Golden Age had different opinions, and the tango has remained the go-to dance of passion, tension, and flamboyant display. Its figures are challenging to perform and command intense respect on the dance floor.

Who Invented It All?

When it comes to the tango, there is a difference between performers and ‘milongueros’. Milongueros are skilled dancers and teachers, and are the individuals who are credited with developing and refining the tango. The names to look up include Carlos Gavito, Ricardo Vidort, and Pedro “Tete” Rusconi. Each of these contributed to the distinctive step pauses that make the tango such an evocative, teasing dance. Many of us, however, know about the tango from Gomez Adams’ memorable performance in the Addams Family Values. And there is an important point there: traditionally, it has been men who have designed and driven the style and form of this timeless love song.

Where Do Dance Shoes Come Into It?

The tango can be extremely exhausting. Tete Rusconi always said that the tango made him “feel drunk,” and that is no surprise given the speed, energy, and spins that are involved. This type of dancing requires very responsive footwear. Both male and female dance shoes need to have a perfectly positioned centre of gravity, and they also need to be supple and nimble. The tango is rarely a dance where figures are honed to perfection, and it therefore relies upon passion and instinct. As such, shoes need to be able to cope with a little off pisté activity. For ladies, getting the heel height right is crucial: ideally, your head should be the same height as your partner’s.

At Ray Rose, we are passionate about all kinds of dance and providing the footwear to go with it! Call us today on 01375 391617 for more information on dance shoes and let us help choose the best style for you.

Image source: Pixabay

Men's Dance Shoe Guide

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