"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #157, Thursday, October 23, 2003

Dancing Tid-bits
Tango, How and Why?

Dear sir,

I have a few questions to ask in relation to Tango position..
  1. Why feet are in offset position not like other swing dances in closed feet position?
  2. Why knees are kept flexing throughout dancing?
  3. Why lady's left four fingers are closed together with thumb underneath?
  4. why man's right arm placed diagonally cross the lady's spine?
i really appreciate your kind answer.
best regards,

I did not want to edit this note sent by JHKim and thought that "How and why in Tango" will be an excellent topic, . Many students just take that advise and do not question their teacher, Why?

Dear JHKim,

I am glad you posted those questions in your e mail. In order to understand the Position, Poise and Posture of any dance, one must know something about the history of that dance. Top coaches emphasize something that they call as the "Character of the Dance." This character develops from the origins and the historical developments of that dance. We will just discuss Tango here.

Tango development: As we are told, Tango originated in brothels of Argentina. Buenos Aires is known for these hot spots where the Latino Cowboys (I don't know what you call them) will go and socialize with "these women." This will be a romantic, seductive and sexual extravaganza. The club will be crowded and hardly any space to dance therefore the Hold of the dance will become "tight". They would even sometimes dance on table tops. For most right handed men, it would be more natural to move the lady to their right side and therefore the man's right hand will go more across her spine (Q-4). This will also necessitate the lady to wrap her left arm around man's right arm and therefore it will look more graceful with her fingers closed and palm facing downward with thumb not sticking (Q-3).

In order to feel the woman's body and lead her, he will lower himself and flex his knees (Q-2). He will kind of grasp her right leg between his 2 legs. As for her to follow, she will stay to the right side of him more or less blocked by his right leg.

This awkward hold will naturally result in typical offset feet positions of both partners feet (Q-1). Most Natural Turns are started in promenade position for the same reason.

Many other nuances of Tango can be explained by the history of this creepy dance which of course was looked down upon by the civilized world for a long time. It then became a Tea Dance for the French and then somehow it found it's way in the more civilized (?) Western/European societies.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits