It typically has a very rhythmic, or flamenco-like time signature, which is characterized by two to three beats per measure, usually AABB or ABCB. The most recognized and popular forms are the salsa and tango, which feature an extra measure of beat per measure.
Tango is known as the Italian, close contact style of tango, which means that the partners move very quickly and are very light. They generally don’t hold each other’s hands at any stage of the dance. Instead, they exchange arm movements, step, and mouth movements, all occurring over a single piece of music. The partner nearest the host will usually hold the other’s hand, while a distance apart. Most partners dance with their hips, instead of their shoulders, as this allows them to stay closer together. As a result, tango dance styles often have a rather elastic, almost free, feel to them.
No Physical Contact
In the early days of tango dancing, the partners would dance arm to arm, or side to side with little to no physical contact. In this style, the partners would sometimes even bump into one another, and there were very few partner dancing opportunities. The style gradually evolved to include more physical contact, with the partners moving closer together, but still remaining arms lengths apart. This evolution can be seen in various milongus that have been recorded from the Baroque period of Spanish history, when dancing was commonplace in the streets of Madrid. Later, as dancing became more public, both men and women would join in the fun, often leaving their friends behind.
Tango is now known by the names of both dancing forms, as well as the milonguero and the son, or mambo. Tango, or dancing to the music, is the oldest form of ballroom dancing, having first been introduced in England around 1825. Although the first venues for the dances were indoor now, many clubs and dance halls now offer the dance outdoors. Many people dance on the streets, in Spanish bullfights and street dances are also common, as well as the ever-popular milongas.
A Circular Movement
The dance is performed in a circular movement, with the partners turning their arms around each other in a circle, instead of ‘singing’ the rhythm with their feet. The man is normally the lead, with the woman following close behind. In a tango dance style, there is normally a leotard, which provides the women with extra versatility, allowing them to easily change their shape drawn from the leotard, without taking their shoes off. The leotard can also be torn off quickly if required, giving the women an easy alternative to a skirt.
The men’s version of tango dance is called the Argentina, or ‘dancing of the sword’. This form was brought about by the peasant soldiers during the Spanish civil war. The term is often used to describe any soldier, even the famous World War Two deciator, whose exploits are immortalised in films such as Braveheart.
Argentina is characterized by a simple yet effective dance technique: the boy places one or two of his fingers on the boy’s sword hand, while moving his arm back and forth. At the same time, the boy holds both hands together in a ‘clapping’ formation, creating a circular pattern.
There are different positions that can be adopted in the tango dance style, but generally the dancing is done on the floor. One of the most popular ways to perform the dance is to adopt the ‘fuerte’ position. In this position, the man on the floor steps out onto the tondo, or floor, with one leg forward and the other extended forward in a pose similar to a pose where one’s foot rested on another person’s foot, in a way similar to a cross-legged position. From this position, the man charges across the floor, using both legs to propel him.
Other styles of tango include the flamenco, which are characterized by a series of leg gestures; the Viennese waltz, which are performed by folding one leg over the other, like a pair of legs in a waltz; and the galore, which are performed by crossing one leg over the other, like a pair of legs in a figure 8. All these styles have evolved over the years so that they are now recognized as distinct dances. While the fundamental idea of the dance remains the same, the execution has come a long way since the early days of Spain’s Moorish Spain. Tango and flamenco are just two of many types of dances in Spain that can be found on the dance floor of many bars and restaurants throughout the country.