Starting Argentine Tango

Starting Argentine Tango

The ethos of our community:- keep learning, practising and developing, everyone is on a Tango journey :)  

Here are some frequently asked question by those wishing to learn Tango:-

Q – Can anyone learn tango?

A - Mostly everyone. If you can walk  …… you can tango:)

Everyone starts out as a beginner in Argentine tango, no one is born dancing tango, we all have to learn, from brain surgeons to bricklayers, no exemptions!

Q – Do I need a partner to attend classes?

A - No. You may attend as a single or as a couple. We rotate partners during the class as in this dance each and every step is led and followed, so it is really important that we learn and practise with a variety of people and not just one person.

Q – What age should I be to dance tango?

A - Any age.

Any age is good to start and any age is good to dance. You can dance tango until whatever age it is physically possible for you to do so. In our classes I only take adults, those who are eighteen or over. The age range of our tango community is from twenty eight to seventy six.

There are no dips, lifts or jumping in our tango, so we don’t have to be prime athletes to do Argentine Tango  ….  just ordinary people ….. it was after all ordinary people who first fashioned this dance! Ordinary people with passion for the music, the music moved them … as it now does us, many years later. How lucky are we that they made such an amazing variety of exquisite dance music!!

Q – What type of tango do you teach?

A - We teach ‘Tango for Social Dancing”. This is the type of tango that you would find in the dance halls and cafes in Buenos Aries. It is a way of dancing that allows for many couples to dance on the floor at the same time without inhibiting other’s dancing. This social aspect of Tango is very strong in Argentina and we hope to bring that sense of togetherness here to our dancing too.

We do not teach, or do, “Show Tango”. An example of this type of tango can be seen on “Strictly Come Dancing”. Their  dancing has to be ‘show-tango’ as it is a television programme to be appreciated visually, each couple having the entire floor to show case their dance. If it wasn’t big and bold we wouldn’t get much idea of it.

However in social tango dancing if we all danced like that on our dance floor there would be carnage … or only one couple dancing at a time!!! Not so very social …. :(

Here is a link to myself and one of our guest Teachers, Haydyn, demonstrating at the end of a Saturday Class we gave in July 2009, I think … or maybe 2010, years have become melted together. My tango technique has improved considerably since then, phew :) It gives you the feel of the Tango we dance here. This Class was called ‘Volcadas for Social Dancing’, succulent swing movements that can easily be danced on our, and other, Milonga dance floors:-

Demo of workshop 18 July Haydyn Brown & Sharon Koch

Q – Can I learn tango if I am not ‘a dancer’, have no sense of rhythm or have two left feet?

A – Yes!

You do not need previous dance experience to learn tango. With no dance experience all is possible – each beginners course, ‘Basic Techniques 1′, starts off at the very beginning. It includes teaching the rhythms.

With practice every one can get it. Some of our most beautiful dancers started off with the least ‘promise/talent’ – remember talent is practice – they say “10,000 hours of practise makes you talented”. Of course only in the area of practise not talented at every thing in the world!!!!

Q – What clothing should I wear?

A - Clean and comfortable clothing. Clean, with no perfumes/aftershave, as we dance close to each other and what may be your favourite scent could give others a headache. No long or very tight skirts as they would inhibit tango movement. The style of clothing is entirely up to you.

Q – What shoes should I wear?

A - Smooth soled shoes are best for tango as they allow you to pivot without compromising your knees. Sticky soled shoes are not good for tango.

For gentlemen – shoes with welts around them should be avoided as they prevent your feet actually meeting and inhibit your partner’s foot placement.

For Ladies – heels or flat shoes are possible, whichever you feel most comfortable in. If you are not sure then please do bring a choice of shoes to the class, you may change part way through and try out your range.

NOTE:- if you do not have any smooth soled shoes at the start please do not worry – come along in  comfortable shoes and see how you like tango before your invest in a new pair of shoes. By week three/four we do some pivoting and then you will need to be able to pivot on the balls of your feet.

Q – How much does it cost?

A - It varies, depending on how you would like pay. Paying for each class weekly costs £10 per night per person. Paying in-advance, for a whole term, it costs £7 or £7:50, (depending on the venue) per night per person. Each term has a varying number of weeks so the exact cost per term per venue can be seen by going to the venue Tab e.g. Oswestry/Pant and looking at say Monday evening. If you are in Shrewsbury – look at the Shrewsbury tab etc.

For beginners I suggest that you do the first three or four classes paying £10 per night, to get a ‘Taste of Tango’. Then if you do like it and would like to do the whole term I take off the payments you have already made, £30 or £40, from the In-advance payment and you pay the balance. That way you can get the whole term at the ‘value’ price without having to take the gamble right at the start. I hope you fall in love with Tango, but realise that you won’t want to commit until you know it is for you. So my suggested payment plan means that if you decide not to carry on, you haven’t paid for a full term. And, if you do continue, you get the discount rate. You can’t lose! :)

After your first term you choose to either pay ‘in-advance’ at the start of each term or to ‘pay-as-you-go’ weekly – entirely your choice.

Tea, coffee and biscuits are included in the price. It is run as a ‘help yourself, then wash up your own cup’ sort of a way. Water, without being tea/coffee, is available at each venue, however if you are a bottled water person then please do bring that. Tango isn’t a very cardio-vascular exercise but the concentration it requires does make one thirsty!!

Q – How soon will I be able to dance at a Milonga? (A social dance for Tango, like a Disco for social dancing to pop music, this is a social for dancing tango to tango music)

A – This is a question a bit like “how long is a piece of string?”.

So I will attempt to explain:- It takes about three classes before you have the very first ideas of basic tango movement and by class four you can have the bare bones of a tango dance :)

Naturally you don’t have a lot of tango ‘vocabulary’ but enough to make your way around the dance floor. From this point on you are most welcome to attend all the dances i.e. Milongas and Tea-Dances.

However I will say it is an extremely personal thing about when you feel comfortable in the dance environment. Some people come along in their first term of classes and love it, even if they can’t do all the movements and get many things ‘wrong’, they just smile and laugh and enjoy the music, the company and the experience of learning new skills. While others find it daunting and stressful and would prefer to wait until they have more skills under their belt before attending. I think that everyone who comes to their first Milonga experiences nerves, just because it is new and unknown. We are a very friendly Tango community and really encourage the new beginners if you get to the dances, we love seeing the new people come through. Attending the monthly Milongas regularly really improves your tango, so those who jump in and ‘go for it’ benefit greatly.

The universal and wonderful tango experience of “the more you put in the more you get out” always shows in the end – I love that about tango, it rewards the effort and time invested in it.

Q – Can Argentine Tango help to improve my health?

A – In most circumstances I think it can. Certainly those who attend regularly experience improvements in their health issues e.g. back and knee problems. Here is an excerpt from the web page of Tango Touch – a group in the USA who have integrated Tango with many health related issues:-

“Dance naturally promotes health; we all notice the improved posture, circulation, balance, and muscle tone that dancing brings us. But the growing practice of Argentine Tango has led medical researchers to discover added health benefits specifically linked to this particular dance practice.

Tango

  •   improves coordination, balance, and posture
  •   increases muscle tone and flexibility
  •   reduces stress and anxiety
  •   improves cardiac health
  •   lowers blood pressure
  •   improves memory, focus, and multi-tasking
  •  enables creative and emotional expression
  •  is increasingly used as therapy in a wide variety of applications: such as, physical therapy, couples therapy and therapy for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients

Link: http://www.tangotouch.ca/health-benefits-of-tango/ 

Dr. Federico Trossero was inspired to investigate the clinical application of tango when he noticed that headaches disappeared after dancing tango.  Since then, research has shown tango useful in lowering blood pressure and improving circulation, (Peidro, R., 2007); as well as improving cardiac health, and fighting arteriosclerosis. Researchers at McGill found that practicing tango improved balance and coordination in aging patients (McKinley, P., 2005), while studies at Washington University (Finch, J., 2013) showed tango helping balance more than comparable exercises. Research even hints that tango could reduce memory loss for those sufferig from Alzheimer’s (Hackney, ME., 2009).

I think that this says it quite comprehensively!

If you do have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask – you may email me at  sharontangoin@gmail.com