The tango that they dance in Argentina is a very, very different dance than you might see on Dancing with the Stars. It’s highly improvisational, and allows not only the leader, but also the follower, to make artistic decisions. Everything is communicated between the partners through physical contact, whether it’s a slight shift of the shared center of balance, or physically pushing with hands, feet, or legs. One guy that I taught tango to, who was into martial arts, commented that Argentine tango is very much like judo, except that the object is to NOT fall down.
Here are Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs dancing to “Gallo Ciego”, by Osvaldo Pugliese. By where they put little flourishes with their feet, you can tell they’re very familiar with this particular recording of this particular song, but the steps they do together could all be communicated with lead and follow, no need for pre-planned choreography.
One particularly interesting thing about Argentine tango is that because of its origins in a time and place where men significantly outnumbered available women, there’s also a tradition of men dancing with men, without any gay connotation to it – not that gay guys don’t dance tango together nowadays and make it very, very homoerotic. Here are brothers Enrique and Guillermo De Fazio, dancing a milonga – a country dance that was one of the precursors of tango. It uses many of the same steps as tango, but goes a whole heck of a lot faster. Because they do break apart a fair amount, some of this performance probably had to be pre-choreographed. Note how every once in a while they’ll trade who’s leading and who’s following. Enjoy the hot guy-on-guy milonga action!
Because tango music is in four beats per measure, you can actually dance it to any music that’s in a multiple of four. Here, a fan has taken an Argentine tango video, and redubbed it with VNV Nation (the band I introduced you to last week), and it works. In “real life” it’s hard to dance tango to industrial music, because when you go to venues where they play industrial music, you usually wear big, stompy boots, and they tend to be too grippy to spin well.