Getting Started with Tango
If you are looking to get started with Argentine Tango, there are many places you go to satisfy your curiosity. From Local classes, teachers, practicas, youtube, festivals, workshops, travelling, going on a Tango Voyage to Buenos Aires, and more, there are options available! The road to dancing Argentine Tango can be pretty tough, an uphill battle for most, but the rewards are great. For many Tango becomes a lifelong passion, others and addiction, some just a phase. You’ll find many challenges along the way, from the first step to the 5000th.
Where to find Tango?
Trying to find Tango can be pretty difficult depending on where you’re are. There are some online resources, local ballrooms, facebook groups, and more out there. Some are easy to find, others not so much. I’ve been lucky in living near communities where it is easier to find. Some places there might not be any dancing of any kind, so finding people to dance tango with, to learn, expand, build, will be an uphill battle.
If you’re new to dancing in general and want to learn, even something other than tango, first thing is to find dance classes. Online is usually the best resources, or community programs, some cities post about programs in catalogs, or even local universities may offer classes. Once you can find a few places that may offer something, you can inquire about finding out more from teachers, other students, local bands, and a number of other people around. This is of course just searching for dancing, there are some places that you might not find any dancing for an hour or more drive away. To those, maybe making the trip or posting in a local ad, Facebook groups, community bulletin boards can help you get started.
Lets say you’re just looking for Tango, easiest is searching online, I prefer google, for your town name and Tango. Many dedicated communities have people who run a website with a calendar for tango classes and events. There are even facebook groups, facebook events, festivals that link back, and so forth. The ability to search and find these communities is much easier now than ever before. If you’re in a bigger and denser area, sites like tangomango.org will offer many more options.
Finding local teachers, traveling teachers, workshops, practice partners, milongas, practicas, and anything and everything is usually just a search away. Many people who love to dance you can even find at concerts, in bars, where there is live music, on the streets, who knows. I’ve been approached because I’ve just danced with a friend in all these different places, and offer up information. Dancing is a passion, and being able to dance where ever is a wonderful feeling. Supermarkets usually have nicer floors to slide on, having a cell phone with music playlists available makes any smooth surface a dancing floor for me. There are even tango meet up groups for when you’re in an airport!
Tango and dancing isn’t the easiest to find depending on your area, but it doesn’t take much to give a quick look around!
Group Classes, Privates, Festivals, & Workshops
As mentioned above, there are many options for dancing tango, and even dancing in general. Every avenue has it’s perks and cons. I suggest checking them all out, even just watching to see if it is for you. Some teachers might teach different than what you need or are feeling, but down the line you may find their insight is much better suited at that moment. I’ve had teacher who I’ve not enjoyed when I started, but found to love their advice and teachings a year or two later, when my skill and understanding could appreciate what they were trying to convey.
Here I’ll give you a quick overview from my experiences on the different types of lessons I’ve attended.
Group Classes – These are where I usually suggest people start. There are quite often beginner classes, and even years later I find myself attending them from new teachers, or the ones I’ve seen from the beginning of my voyage. You’ll get all skill levels at the beginner classes, and I suggest at least watching part of any additional classes. This is where you can chat, find out more, practice, and usually a very safe environment. Try a few teachers, some may work for you, others maybe not, but revisit them as your skill improves. This is the easiest way I’ve found to also find practice partners!
Private Lessons – Sometimes the group classes don’t give you enough attention or go through different movements in depth enough for you. Teachers are trying to find a good balance for all skill level involved and may not see everything that is happening. This is where private instruction can fill in the blanks by those teachers. I’ve found getting a private once a month with my normal dancing is a good balance when starting out, or just ask questions in the class.
On the flip side, I will almost always have a private lesson with traveling teachers who spend a weekend through town with a workshop they’re conducting. I’ve gotten so much advice from another pair of traveling eyes that it’s been worth the premium. This is of course if you like their teaching style (by taking a group class/workshop)
Workshops – These range from a whole weekend with one teacher breaking things down, or just a single extended class with a traveling teacher. Workshops can bring that extra outside style or influence. You’ll often find local teachers also attending these, because there is always something to learn. Usually workshops have multiple classes of different levels, and always attending the beginner classes brings me insight into my dance and improving. Great way to see if you like the traveling teacher. I’ve found I try to attend festivals with these teachers I like after attending a workshop of theirs. Workshops also usually bring out more experienced dancers in your community who may not go to local classes.
Festivals – I personally like Festivals for the social dance scene, the Milongas. If classes are included all in one price, I try to attend the classes, and find I can always get something. You’ll meet all sorts of people, find new and exciting connections, dance styles, energies, and more. Festivals are a tricky bit when it comes to Tango. Some offer full boot camps for absolute beginners, and these are AMAZING if you’re starting. The price point is usually a little high, but can be worth it if you want t get a nice head start. Social dancing at festivals and the performances, the different level classes with multiple teachers, there is usually something for everyone. I didn’t go to my first festival until I was about 6 months into my Tango-Voyage, I loved it, but almost wish I waited longer, or took more classes. I treat festivals as a big social dance with all the Milongas, and always enjoyed myself!
As you can see, there are many resources and place to find and learn Tango. What about videos? You’ve seen performances online I’m sure, maybe some workshop demos, festival videos, maybe some basic dance lessons online. With the internet and YouTube, there is so much to watch and see, music to find, teachers to look at. You’ll find though there is a lot out there, and the gems are few and far inbetween.
You can find whole course online in video format on learning tango. If you don’t have other options, this is indeed a place to start. I’d suggest taking classes and such still, but there are great video tutorials to help get you started. Some teach argentine tango, some turkish tango, others performance tango or ballroom tango, and all sorts. I’ve found great classes and demos that I like to watch on youtube, but no matter what you may watch, nothing beats dancing or learning in person.
YouTube is great for finding teachers, re-watching what you’ve learned, or maybe being able to break down steps you see that are in your level. Sometimes you don’t know a movement is possible without seeing it again and again, and this is where videos with the right dancers can really give you a little something extra to practice.
What Level Dancer am I?
How would you describe your Tango dancing skill? If you’re hoping for a guide here to give you some ideas as to where you might be compared to others, or something to explain your level of skill to others… you’re still a beginner, I can promise you that. After you’ve been dancing a few years, you’ll realize exactly where your skill level is, and if you don’t know… I’m pretty sure, it’s also still a beginner level. I’ve been dancing Tango at least 3 nights a week for the past 4 years straight (not counting my own practice time), and I consider myself a beginner still, many others may see it differently, but I’m sure I’ll consider myself a beginner for a few more years. I’ve had people ask me for private lessons, taught basic beginner classes to get people moving on the dance floor, helped numerous people in Practicas, and more. I’ll be surprised if I consider myself anything more than a beginner in another 4 years.
So when people ask me how long I’ve been dancing, I usually say a few years, or a while. Many people told me this when I started and it confused me, but once you’ve been dancing a while, you totally understand. The quality of the dance speaks for itself, if you’re new (within a year of dancing Tango), it’s best to let the other person know. Sometimes having a label is heplful, but the only time it really matters is when certain classes are labeled a certain level. This is mostly thanks to Festivals which offer all different level of classes.
So if you are at a festival and you need to know what level of dancer you are? My suggestion is really to take a private with one of the teachers, or a reputable teacher in your area and ask if a class would be appropriate for you, not your exact level. The instructors really will be honest a majority of the time, especially if you phrase the question right. Asking “Am I an Advanced Tango Dancer?” will most likely get you a weird look and not taken seriously. If you ask “Will it be appropriate for me and my partner to take this Advanced Colgada Couples Class at #Festival?” Then you’ll most likely get the exact answer you’re looking for.