Argentine Tango is more than just a dance. As you’ll soon discover, tango is rich in history, with its own distinctive music, customs and etiquette. Here we address some frequently asked questions in regard to the Alma del Tango teaching program.
- Where do I begin?
- How do I know when I am ready for the next level class?
- What kind of shoes do I need for tango?
- What should I wear for tango?
- Do I need a partner?
- What if I’d rather dance only with my partner?
- What is the best way to improve my dancing?
- What is a práctica?
- What is a milonga?
Q. Where do I begin?
Level 1 or Foundations Plus is the best place to start for newcomers. This month-long course is an introduction to the social form of Argentine Tango as danced in Buenos Aires. No previous experience necessary!
In these classes you will learn a code of movement that will get you started with this improvised dance. Embrace, posture, connection with your partner and basic navigation on the dance floor will be emphasized. Month-long courses begin the first Wednesday or Friday of every month. See the class & events calendar »
Q. How do I know when I am ready for the next level class?
Most students need 1-3 months to acquire the fundamental skills necessary to move on to Level 2. We encourage students registered for Level 2 or 3 to continue taking Level 1 (at no extra charge) to solidify their fundamental walking technique and understanding of the foundations.
Q. What kind of shoes do I need for tango?
As a beginner, you don’t need any special shoes to dance tango, but shoes with a leather or suede sole are preferable. Shoes with a hard plastic sole may do initially. You need to be able to turn easily on the ball of your foot as there’s a lot of pivoting in tango, especially for followers, and if your shoes stick to the floor you’ll hurt your knees.
Women usually prefer heels anywhere from 1”- 4”, but you should wear whatever kind of heel you’re comfortable in. When you’ve been dancing for a while and are sure you want to continue, dance shoes are a worthwhile investment for both women and men. See Resources for Students for local and online dance shoe shops.
Q. What should I wear for tango?
For class and práctica: Wear comfortable clothes that let you move. Flowing skirts, gaucho or Capri pants are a good option for women. For men, jeans are fine or pants that are loose and allow movement. Please, no shorts.
For milonga: Many women wear dresses that hug their curves but stretch and flow near their legs. Skirts with slits allow you to move and are sexy. Make sure you can take large steps without hindrance. Depending on the milonga, men may either wear a suit and tie or dress slacks and a collared shirt. Nice jeans with a dress shirt are also acceptable.
Q. Do I need a partner?
We encourage the rotation of partners in class so there is no need to bring a partner (the exception is in our Advanced Couples class on Monday evenings where you do need to bring a partner). Both singles and couples come to tango classes and we all dance together. You will meet interesting and friendly people in our tango community.
Q. What if I’d rather dance only with my partner?
No problem. Some couples prefer to dance only with each other. If you wish to do so, just stand back from the circle when we ask dancers to rotate partners. While not a requirement, you may wish to rotate partners occasionally as you will become a better leader and/or follower by dancing with a variety of partners.
Q. What is the best way to improve my dancing?
The more time you put on the dance floor, the better you will become. A great mix would be to take at least one weekly group class, participate in a weekly práctica, and take a weekly private class if you are able. Once you feel ready, start attending milongas even if it is only to watch in the beginning. You can learn a lot by watching. Listen to tango music even when you are not dancing to become familiar with the genre. (Note: Not all tango music is dancing music, read up on dance music in the Resources for Students section,)
Q. What is a práctica?
A práctica is a place to practice tango. Generally more relaxed than a milonga, at a práctica it is acceptable to talk during the dance, and work on steps or figures. Alma del Tango holds weekly prácticas every Friday from 8-10pm, except for 4th Friday of the month when we hold a milonga.
Q. What is a milonga?
A milonga is an Argentine Tango social dance. People come as singles or with a partner and they wear their best tango finery. Music can be live or recorded, and is usually played in tandas, or sets of 3-4 songs. When the tanda ends there will be a cortina, a short interlude of non-tango music when dancers return to their seats and look for a new partner. Milonga is also a style of dance, played and danced on the 2/4 beat rather than the standard 4/4. Alma del Tango holds a milonga on the 4th Friday of every month.
There are many wonderful websites with information about tango dress, where to go dancing and more. Explore them in our Resources for Students.