Chicago Tango Dancing Lessons

Meet our Chicago Tango Dance Instructor

Dennis PaSamba dances with a partner performing a tango dance.

Dennis PaSamba – Master Instructor

Dennis travels all over the world performing and teaching Salsa, Tango and many more dance styles. Learn more about Dennis PaSamba.

All about Tango Dancing

Do you ever find yourself watching shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” or “Dancing With the Stars” and wishing that you could dance just like the pros do? With dance lessons, you can learn to look like a pro and then tango the night away. We get a lot of questions from potential students about specific dances, such as the tango, and we want you to get answers to all your questions before you call us to schedule your first lesson.

It Takes Two to Tango

The tango is a partner dance. Many say it is the most romantic or sexual dance, but some think it should look more sensual than sexual. A male partner usually takes the lead position and pulls a female partner along, but more modern interpretations of the dance give women more control. It is typically organized into 16-beat sections of music, but it’s also organized into 32-beat sections in a faster version of the dance.

Dancing the tango looks very sexual because the male and female are so close together; they usually are holding or touching each other for the duration of the dance. A female partner will put one hand on the right side of the man near his hip, and she also will put her head either on his shoulder or the side of his neck. The dance requires that the woman stay in this position and let the man lead her across the dance floor until the end of the song.

The Tango was Inspired by Music

The tango started in Argentina and was most popular where it bordered Uruguay. It was especially popular in Buenos Aires among the younger, working class people who lived in the city. They used music that was coming out of Europe at the time and adopted a dance style to fit it. That style of dance became the tango.

Some historians believe the tango evolved from dances that were popular among slaves near the end of the 1700s. Few people know that the tango was originally a dance performed between two women. It wasn’t until later that the dance changed to include a male lead.

Newspapers Coined the Name “Tango”

The music that is played during the dance usually features only one person playing guitar or a combination of people playing a variety instruments, such as flutes, guitars and pianos. Newspapers began calling the style of music “tango” in the early 1800s, but it also went by other names. Since the dance did not have a specific name, the word tango was used to describe it, in addition to the music. As the dance spread around the world, there became different variations of it.

There’s More Than One Way to Tango

In addition to the traditional tango, there is a dance called the Argentine tango, which adds lifts and other moves not found in the original dance. The Argentine tango often has a much faster tempo and includes fluid movements that make the couple look like they are walking rather than dancing. There also is a variation of the dance called new tango, which features some of the classic steps but uses faster, nontraditional music. Some people even dance the tango to electronic music.

The Tango Versus the Flamenco

While the tango and the flamenco are similar, they are different types of dances. The flamenco is another classic dance, but it can be performed by only one person. It’s usually a woman. She often wears a long dress that can be used as an accessory during her dance, and she may wear castanets on her hands that she uses to accentuate the music as she dances. Some believe that the flamenco is a much older dance and that it dates back to gypsies in the early 1700s, or even earlier.

 The World’s Top Tango Dancers

The top tango dancers in the world today are professionals who have dedicated their lives to dancing, and many of them have earned their place among the world’s elite dancers in the annual World Tango Dance Tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The competition is split into two categories: Tango de Pista, or Salon Tango, and Tango Escenario, or Stage Tango. Salon Tango requires dancers to use more traditional moves, whereas Salon allows dancers more freedom with the moves they use.

In 2016, the winners in the Salon category were Cristian Palomo and Melisa Sacchi, and Hugo Mastrolorenzo and Agustina Vignau won the Stage category. Both pairs of dancers are from Argentina. Dancers from Argentina and Uruguay have swept the competitions since 2012. 

Tango Dancing on the Big Screen

In addition to realty television shows, you may have seen the tango in some hit films. “Moulin Rouge!” featured one of the most interesting tango scenes of all time; it’s set to the hit song “Roxanne” by the English rock band The Police. Famous actor Al Pacino had a hit moment of his own in “Scent of a Woman” when he played a blind man teaching a gorgeous young woman how to do the tango. More recently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt did the tango together in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”  while simultaneously taking down a group of assassins.

Regardless your experience level, we can help you learn to tango. Contact our studio to find out when classes start or to schedule your first tango lesson or any other dance lesson today.