My Tango Teaching Style: Street Tango

I love the irreverent sound of “street tango” because like most of us North Americans, I got my share of hot-house training in tango before I ventured into the realm where tango actually occurs, in the milonga, in a social setting with strangers. Like most, I wanted to know steps, patterns, and tricks. A class wasn’t worth my time and effort if I didn’t get exposed to some sequence of tricky moves. But then I left the hot house for the wild side of the street: the numerous milongas in Buenos Aires and environs. I let go of everything I had learned and gave myself over to the arms and twitching torsos of man after man in Argentina. I hardly had time to recall what the classroom had given me. I went into a reverie that expunged all knowledge. I became a blank slate. And tango was born anew in my body each time with each partner. It was exhilarating to just let it happen, not knowing, not worrying, each time I entered the dance. And becoming so eager to dance with every man sitting on the men’s side of the dance hall. My mind was torn down. My whole body was shaped and re-formed by this experience.

Now when I teach tango, I find myself giving a lot of “wiggle room” to each step or pattern I teach, because I know that when the students get out into the realm of social tango, each partner will have his or her own approach. If you are open and flexible you will get it. I am bemused by so many hot-house tango dancers who have their tenets and rules and regulations. All fine and dandy for now. But there is the Big Space of Limitless Expression to be had in tango. You will get to it, the tango brujo stage and then there is no going back. You will not want to.