Learning Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by theminoritynomad, May 9, 2013.

  1. theminoritynomad

    theminoritynomad New Member

    My name is Erick and I'm a professional travel writer and photographer. I've recently started a project where I visit a country for a month and learn how to do something culturally significant and then compete at it or try it professionally in an effort to motivate people to try new things and travel. My readers choose learning Tango in Argentina. I've been researching for about a month and keep running into dead ends and figured I would try here. Hopefully you all can help me with a few of my issues.

    1. What kind of Tango is feasible to learn in 30 days and try to compete at? I understand like many other forms of dance there is competition and social versions of Argentine Tango.

    2. As I'm trying to make this project as replicable as possible for my readers I want to choose the most economical option while also achieving my goal. Many avenues have directed me to private lessons but they seem quite expensive for not much instruction. Any recommendations? Maybe extensive group classes.

    3. How receptive will Argentinians be to an American with zero tango experience at the social clubs? I dance Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata and know how introverted those communities can be in some places.

    4. Are there frequent tournaments/events where I could showcase what I've actually learned for my readers?

    Thank you all very much for reading this and any help you may be able to provide.
     
  2. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Erick!
    Of course you are in search of something binding both novel and sophisticated, but at what costs? Doesn´t exposure-tourism degrades locals to zoo animals or museum objects? I don´t want to argue against new experiences in one´s life, but speaking frankly: it should not be organized and scheduled other-directed. It should be a personal decision, a real change!

    On the subject: I know a lot of people who decided to learn tango in BsAs, flamenco in Sevilla, waltz in Vienna, casino in Havana, mazurka in Brest, gafieira in Rio, or pasada on Cape Verde. But that always was/is kind of a search, seeking a teacher, seeking to emulate and submerge into the culture, a self-encounter trip. In other words: it´s an open undircted development. You cannot plan the stages, procedure, expiry.

    I also know some tour operators promoting "learn tango in Buenos Aires". The tourists are euphoric and narcotized while traveling. At home all these dreams will shatter. It takes 6 years for a guy to learn the basics in tango. A girl will need at least 3 years.

    Finally, what do you mean by "compete at it", "tournaments", "events", "showcase"?

    a) Tango is no competitive dance. Off course there are campionatos, but for other reasons (tourism in Bs.As., career management for tango teachers because there isn´t any syllabus nor teacher organization)
    b) There is an format of it´s own, the tango-blog. Perhaps you have already found hundreds of them. It´s kind of a diary and tango-adepts write meticulously about every weeny advance. Some add vids of influential teachers, perhaps also their own efforts on the dance floor. Your story won´t be interesting any more, there are already that many.

    By the way. Only a small number of argentines are able to dance tango. I know of 4 argentines form Bs.As. who found that they should learn tango. They went to europe or the us to learn it, because they didn´t want to undergo the stress in all openness public.

    All the best
     
  3. theminoritynomad

    theminoritynomad New Member

    Greatly appreciate the response. I have to disagree with your first point. Tourism is tourism. Domestic or International. In no way does it "degrades locals to zoo animals or museum objects" because it's not only exposing others to said culture but building an appreciation for it. Had I never witnessed Tango in Buenos Aires I would have no idea how beautiful and special it is. I grew up in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio. I can assure you that most kids there have no idea what Tango is much less would view amazing Argentinian dancers as "zoo animals or museum objects" but skilled dancers they want to emulate. Ultimately this project isn't about me but my readers. Primarily poor inner city kids that have never been exposed to something like Tango.

    a) I don't understand when you say Tango is no competitive dance. I've researched several competitions in the U.S. and abroad. Am I missing the meaning of these competitions?
    b) "Your story won´t be interesting any more, there are already that many". Are you saying that my project won't work because others have done it already or are doing it. I'm sorry but I'm not understanding some of what you are saying. Again, I greatly appreciate your input.
     
  4. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Erick, didn´t mean to make a personal attack! And admitted, tango isn´t a autochtonous culture any more. Even since that unesco heritage coup of course it´s kind of a tourist industry. But that actually may be left for you to find out, all those layers of argentine tango: the army of tango-tourist, the established tango teachers and dance school owners, those poor traveling dance teachers that had to emigrate and work in europe or the us, those tango retirees that still remember the 40s tango craze, those native tango families who transmit the knowledge exclusively, those milonga organizers and radio djays, those smart public relations and governmental tourism managers, those priest-like luthiers that retain the last bandoneóns, and so on, only to mention some fields of activity for you.
    Absolutely, the main business segment for authentic tango are social dance venues. There is no difference between salsa and tango. Those who must compete may have got a vital reason, but that´s really the exception.
    A little bit, but it depends on your readers and audience. Think this is your site, is it? By the way try to contact Terpsi, think she´s befriended with almost every tango blogger on fb. She lives in Bs.As. and knows the scene in detail.
     
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Unless the person already has a real dance background, my answer would be, none (unless crashing and burning is an acceptable outcome for, "try to compete at it").

    Now if the goal is for social dancing, taking classes and hiring a taxi dancer (at least in the beginning) might work.
     
  6. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    the lousy kind... i know tango is just walking but...
     
  7. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    This kind of mindset exists here in the USA thanks to numerous reality shows that purport to have people on the floor (or the diving board etc) in a week doing some kind of show dance. Americans like to think that simply working hard at something gets you there on THEIR timeframe. As a teacher, I always hear from new students that they are 'prepared to work hard and long, maybe even 2 months' to learn how to dance. Oh, and yes, they are only available for 2 hours a week lol...
     
    tangomonkey likes this.
  8. theminoritynomad

    theminoritynomad New Member

    No offense taken. I'm just trying to understand. Yes that is my project site. I greatly appreciate the information you've provided as well as the observation's you've made. The point of this isn't to produce world class tango experts in 30 days. The point is to expose people to this wonderful and motivate then to try something different. "Failure" is not trying to me. Not looking foolish.
     
  9. theminoritynomad

    theminoritynomad New Member

    Would you not agree that every student is different? If a student is willing to put in the hours YOU as an instructor decide for them to achieve a certain goal or level of proficiency, would you not attempt to train them? It's easy to say something isn't possible until it's been done. It's about exposure.
     
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you go and observe I don't think anyone will think anything of it. You might be able to get a dance when they take a break from AT and play something completely different.
    If you step onto the floor with a partner, and create a train wreck, or even dance badly, I think people will notice.
    You should learn about the Cabaceo.

    Honestly, unless you have a specific, competition oriented audience in mind, I think you would serve them well by meeting the challenge of being accepted as a social AT dancer in a traditional, central city milonga.
    I think once you understand the culture, you may understand why I say this.
    If you find that too easily done, then you might see about competition, or how about getting into a rehearsal or audition to be in one of the many tango shows in Buenos Aires?

    Another idea would be to find a partner and perform as a street dancer on Florida St. and see if you get any tips!
    If I wasn't having problems with YouTube, I'd post my favorite example.

    The Amazing Race had an episode where the contestants had to do something tango, so it's maybe not a new idea.

    National Geographic did a piece on Buenos Aires within the past 10 years with a bit about Argentine Tango.
     
    opendoor likes this.
  11. theminoritynomad

    theminoritynomad New Member


    Thank you Steve. The additional ideas are exactly what I was hoping to find here. Is Florida St. a place in Buenos Aires? I'm very excited to learn more about the culture.
     
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    First, understand that there is a culture around the milongas and the tango itself in those central Buenos Aires milongas.
    You will have to do some reading to know what to expect.


    This is a suggested "performing for tourists" location.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Street

    This is my favorite.


    Try this in YouTube "florida street buenos aires" to see various performances.

    The people who dance there a probably professional dancers, and I don't know if they need a permit to do what they do, but it would be like "busking," only as a dancer.
    Not the only place this is done, I just happen to be familiar with it.

    And... Hope you didn't miss this thread.
    http://www.dance-forums.com/threads/argentine-tango-competitions.33457/page-18

    "Jantango" lives in Buenos Aires.
     
  13. NZ_Guy

    NZ_Guy Member

    Have you seen this? blog [dot] timferriss [dot] com /1/post/2009/05/dance.html

    Or by the bloke at fluentin3months dot com?
     
  14. jantango

    jantango Active Member

  15. tangobro

    tangobro Active Member

    there are 2 different, sometimes intersecting tracks for Argentine Tango
    1st is the social tango. It historically was danced in a large room, called "salon" in Spanish. The second is exhibition tango, danced primarily on the stage, called "escenario" in Spanish. Both styles are featured in the Argentine Tango World Championships.

    I would suggest you try learning stage tango, since it uses choreography you memorize your part, your partner can memorize her part & to someone who doesn't know about tango, it may look as though you are dancing tango

    Tango takes time to learn to do well, no matter how much time you put in, 30 days will not do it. But in 30 days you can learn some choreographed movements.

    Here's the rub - trying to find group classes that teach stage tango choreography. We have a couple of classes that do so here in NYC, so I'd guess you can find some in BsAs

    If you go the stage tango route - not receptive in the social clubs. That's the point of intersection that causes chagrin for social dancers, stage dancers dance moves that are inappropriate to the social scene. Salsa Merengue & Bachata each have a basic step, you learn that & then expand your moves. Argentine tango is different

    There is an annual tournament in BsAs, the Argentine World Tango championships - get a partner & sign up.


    Hope you have fun & your readers learn that there is a social version of tango completely different from the stage tango seen on TV
     
  16. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I took a look at your website, and in particular, your about page.
    http://minoritynomad.com/about/

    The best advice I could offer, is to encourage you to focus less on learning tango with a goal of competing in a competition, and instead, see if you can understand the motivation/benefit people have for dancing tango at the milongas in BsAs (social tango). As you seem to be an artsy type of person, you might find you'll like it more than you could imagine (at least that was the case for me, anyways).

    BTW, my wife is originally from Cleveland, and we met in the military (in TX). Best of luck in your travels.
     
  17. stanthemanc

    stanthemanc New Member

    I really liked this thread. It reminded me of myself. as a newbie which of course I still am. I think that AT is not just learning a dance like Cha Cha (please don't get me wrong Cha Cha is fun and very sociable) but more like a lifestyle. I go to bed thinking about AT and I wake up thinking about AT.

    Since I started BR dancing, about a year ago (I just started AT recently) I have developed severe pain on the top of my left foot (after xrays, diagnosed as arthritis). I see my doctor Tuesday for further evaluation. It would be great to know other persons experiences and ways to cope. I do not want to give up dancing. I am retired and I am 73 years old. I have found my passion for my following at least 20 years. Thanks
     
  18. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Really Steve, that is the best idea around, and it actually wasn´t done before (as far as I know, and with the exception of tango flash-mops).

    Looking forward to Erick´s Tango Barometer (with live cam) on Calle Florida ;)
     

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