argentinsk tango i oslo

What tango is not – breaking the clichés

There are many clichéd ideas about the tango. In the stereotypical image the man wears a black suit, vest and red tie. He has dark hair combed back with brylcreem. The woman wears a dress or skirt and of course, sky-high heels. Some part of her outfit is almost always red and the dancers’ attitude is serious. The dance is, in a certain way, a struggle for power and love.

However, if you watch a show or any social dance floor the scene is very different. If you were to look at us, barely a second goes by that we don’t have a smile on our lips. We like to dress nicely, but we don’t feel pressured to fit an image. Our dancing is serious, but it is a playful seriousness. It’s like children who are absorbed in a game. They focus intently but still enjoy themselves. We are serious and dedicated to tango but it also makes us laugh. We love that it brings together a close and intimate community.

There are many variations and levels to the traditional Argentine tango. Depending on the variation it may be close to or stray from that original clichéd image but the important elements stay the same. We appreciate all good tango, whether danced with the same technique and style that we use or not.
That said, there is one style of tango we can’t stand, and it is ballroom tango. In our eyes it is a degraded form that does the real tango (Argentine) a disservice. These are strong words, but we believe them to be true.
The music of Ballroom tango has taken the clichés from the classic tango, ignored the essential communication and sincerity, and changed the movement to the point where it can hardly be recognized as tango. It’s the same with music. All that remains of the classic tango music is a bad imitation of some clichéd features.

What we most of all oppose to is of course the way of “dancing”. In the video, the dancers turn with a force and aggression making them prone to whiplash injury. They also embrace as if they are not comfortable holding each other; it is as if they wanted to get away from each other. Where is the closeness? Where is the communication? Where is the beauty of the movements? Where is the embrace that says that the dancers are happy with each other and that they enjoy dancing? Unfortunately, too many people suffer from the delusion that this is what tango is supposed to be.

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