Whenever it comes up that I dance tango in conversation with my friends, colleagues, or random strangers the initial reaction is that they think that that’s cool/interesting, but they most likely have no clue what Argentine Tango is. A lot of non dancers envision tango dancing to be ballroom tango or the stuff they show on Dancing With The Stars. A number of guys will think I’m doing it to just meet girls (it’s probably one of the least efficient ways to get girls actually, which I’ll explain later).
The answer simply is I just really enjoy dancing in general. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been to crazy dance parties that last half a day long, from night time to well past when the sun comes up. I can be sober, drunk, or on a cocktail of substances, in a warehouse or a club or boat, just give me some good tunes and an environment with the right vibes and I can dance forever. That’s really the heart of the answer to the question.
As for why Argentine Tango over other partner dances? Well, I’ve danced swing (lindy hop) previously which I really enjoyed and will probably return to it in some form in the future. I take a lot of joy in the elasticity and energy of the dance, and pulling off a well executed swing out is still one of my favorite dance moves. I’ve dabbled in salsa (and a bit of the other latin dances), and I’ve had a fun time with it. I like how it’s somewhat casual and a lot of people can pick it up, and you can just go to a salsa nightclub in most places and it’s not a big deal. As for ballroom…it never appealed to me. You’re more training for competition and performance from the get go rather than enjoying social dances. I’m actually a very competitive individual, but I see dance as a somewhat meditative / stress relief activity rather than one to compete officially in. Although, not going to lie I will aim to be the best dancer in the room, but not in a competition sense, but in a way to push myself.
And for tango itself…even though I’m not good yet, I feel it has much greater depth and potential than those other partner dances. Aside from the cruzada and the giro pattern, the core fundamentals of the dance feel very natural. In a nutshell, you’re essentially just hugging someone and walking. There’s not really any set steps and it’s a ton of improv. Sure you can repeat figure/patterns you learn in class, and a lot of them are common, but the flexibility of tango allows you to basically interrupt any of those figures after any step and do something else. Factor in the embrace and you have to be acutely aware of what your partner is doing at all times. This contrast of being simple yet having the potential to be crazy technical and complex combined with a greater connection to your partner (compared to other dances) is very appealing to me – since it allows you to see how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.
Oh, and as I said I’d explained earlier: why isn’t tango that great for meeting girls? Well, the skill floor is much higher than other dances, and it’s a lot less forgiving than them too as a beginner. With the other dances you can jump into an “acceptable” level of dancing much sooner. The age range is quite a bit older than other dances. From my experience in this city so far, at least 70% of the women I’ve danced with are probably 40+ year olds (so maybe this isn’t a negative if you’re around that age bracket as well). And lastly, it’s honestly just way way easier to get girls from regular bars/clubs or the plethora of online dating apps – I can spend somewhat minimal effort in swiping and messaging some girls and get a date within a few days (or even the same day). That’s not to say it’s not possible to meet great women from tango, but I think it’s silly if that was your main goal in getting into the dance, it’s not 1920s Argentina where there’s a men to women ratio of 3:1.
People get into tango for different reasons, perhaps many of them are there to meet someone special and find love. For others maybe it’s just another hobby they can do that isn’t as physically strenuous. Or they’re from Argentina and the music and culture resonates with them. I imagine some just happen chance got dragged into it from their spouse or lover wanting to try it out.
For me, I just like to dance.