Ballroom Tango is a very dramatic, staccato, passionate and fun dance to learn. Ballroom Tango evolved from the Tango danced in the bars and bordellos in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After undergoing refinement, the dance hold was changed to the traditional dance hold and the result was the ballroom version of this dance. Tango spread throughout Europe and then to the United States in the 1900's. The Tango dance is demonstrated in the Tango video on this page.
Tango is a progressive ballroom dance that is danced counterclockwise around the dance floor but there is less flow and continuity of movement as in some of the other dances. Tango is danced from a low center of gravity, created from the flexing of the knees, throughout the dance (different from any of the other ballroom dances) and consists of walking movements that have a cat-like, slow "stalking" quality. The basic step of the Tango dance alternates with dips, lunges, rondes (a sweeping leg movement that can be done with the toe on the floor or with the leg up in the air in a bent or straight position), sharp, quick foot movement and "double-take" quick head movements. When dancing Tango, there is an emphasis on Contra Body Movement(CBM), which is the action of turning the opposite side of the upper body toward the moving leg. There is no "rise and fall" in Tango and the feet are lifted and placed onto the dance floor instead of using a gliding movement along the dance floor.
Tango music is written in 2/4 or 4/4 time and is counted Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow (SSQQS) and Quick-Quick-Slow,Quick-Quick-Slow (QQS QQS). Another way of counting is Walk-Walk-Tango-Go-Close. Both of these step counts are demonstrated in the Tango video on this page.
There are two styles of ballroom Tango. The first is International Style Tango which is danced in a closed hold throughout the dance. This dance is very powerful with dramatic large movements and quick, staccato head turns and foot placement. The second style of Tango is the American Style Tango, which also shares a closed position but the couple can separate from closed position to execute open movements, like alternate hand holds, dips, spins, lunges, underarm turns and side-by-side choreography. Both International Style Tango as well as American Style Tango are demonstrated in the Tango video on this page.