Tango Styles & Preferences

Since Tango has migrated around the world, many different styles have emerged, with many people even making their own names for their classes to stand out. Some have evolved into their own dance, while others have roots that can be traced back to a few different masters in the Golden Age. Here I’ll outline a few of the different styles or aspects of them, with more information being available through blog discussions, or available in more in depth websites. My knowledge isn’t all encompassing, and I don’t wish to plagiarize others works, but rather link to them if you wish to find out more.

The Walk

If you aren’t familiar with the different tango styles, you might find the idea of how to walk being a topic of conversation comical. I personally feel this discussion is silly, but some people have a passion for a specific style of walk over others. What is the conversation over? The conversation is a debate about should you land on the front of your foot while walking, or land on your heel while walking.

Heel vs Toes

Both ways of landing while you dance/walk have it’s own benefits, and you’ll find no one always does one over the other. You’ll find many people talk about how toe landing is smoother, then being argued it’s harder to feel your partner, or heel landing is more distinct and better for close embrace. Even more discussion comes up with these options. I say, choose what is right in the moment with your partner and you.

Embraces – Open & Close

Other than the walk, a big differce in Tango Styles revolves around the embrace. What are the different Tango Embraces? This is a hard question, and what you’ll get here is my opinion, which is very open ended. Some consider a more open hold is not really an embrace, and history might have things defined differently that what I shall explain.  What I’m going to describe is more of what I’ve experienced things being described or how the different terms are used in the social settings I’ve been exposed to.

Close Embrace and Open Embrace relates to your body contact with your partner, usually your chest contact.  A Close Embrace is when your chests are touching, and an Open Embrace is when they are not. Simple enough right…?

When it comes to your Embrace, where the connection is, the lean, body position, all may signify a different type of embrace that may be named. For instance in the social scene I’ve experienced people who dance chest to chest where the connection doesn’t rotate on the upper body and the connection remaining rather static, is a Milonguero Embrace. This can also be in a V-Embrace where the chest body connection is offset and not straight on. A V-Embrace is not always a Milonguero Embrace as you can rotate your body along the connection for turns or similar.

Milonguero & Salon are not used as official terms, and are in fact quite mis-labeled, as many dance instructors in South America don’t label their dance style. These are how I’ve noticed those in the US label their styles and the similarities.

A V-Embrace can also be considered Salon Style when it comes to tango depending on where you are.  Salon may also be a term some use for Open Embrace as a whole, while others can consider it a style used in a Close Embrace as well. Salon is attributed to a more upright body posture a majority of the time but terms float around. If you think this is confusing yet… you also have more Open Embrace “Styles” like Fantasia, American, or Turkish, and other close styles like Canyengue (which is similar to Kizomba dancing from what I’ve seen), and it all muddles. Labeling gets very complex and many can be incorrect (I’m sure mine above might be as well).

The History of the different embraces is pretty sound and you can find out more at Tango Voice to get into it quite deep. Proper use of terms is something that many Tango communities differ on, so when you hear the different embraces, even if you are informed, what may be used could be widely different than what you expect.

Choosing what’s right for you!

So how do you choose a style, or stick to something while you travel?  Try out everything, find what you like is really my suggestion.  What you may like now, may change later. I keep learning new and interesting ways of connections, of dancing and have favorites with some dancers, but it’s all evolving. You’ll find some teachers, embraces, walks, that work one way, wont work another, you may mold yourself different with every partner, or stick firm to what you been taught or love.

Try them all, branch out, stick and practice ones you feel are a good fit for you. Always be prepared when traveling or as you grow to re-visit previous teachers or styles.  I know there were some styles and teachers I didn’t enjoy at all when I first started, but as I got a year or two into my Tango Voyage, I now understand and enjoy what they are teaching.