Show tango is not REAL tango?!


Active Member
I am sorry you had so much trouble with learning it. Perhaps A.T. isn't your dance.
Oh, don't be sorry. On the contrary, it took that much of a learning curve because AT is now my ONLY dance. I've since stopped all of my other dances as I find them boring and contaminate my tango.

You should try it sometime so you can experience what were talking about.


Well-Known Member
Yet another lecture by Larry-knows-best. Thanks for enlightening us with your knowledge. When will come the next lecture? We're so impatient.
I don't care what salsa social dancing is like (and, yes, I have been), but it's just different.
I've done a lot of salsa dancing, and I agree - it is very different. Salsa is inherently far more visual than AT, there's very little internal connection going on most of the time.

In AT, I think it's quite possible for a follower to have the best dance of the night with someone who simply walks her around the room to the music, with no embellishments.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
Politically conscious tango fans often try to make a clear-cut binary distinction between REAL tango and show tango, but the universe rarely cooperates with such rigid views. Sharing with others mastery of something difficult and wonderful is part of human nature. Outside Argentina this often shows up as "tango crimes" such as racing around a crowded floor or doing whirlwind molinetes. Inside Argentina these "criminals" are usually quickly set straight. So very late at milongas in Argentina, when the crowd thins out and the floor opens up, is when you usually see more showy behavior. And not just by energetic acrobatic younger dancers. Those of advanced years who danced so close and simply in the thick of the evening get a bit of room from their partners and get a bit fancy, showing those who've only had, say, a mere decade of tango dance experience what someone can do who's been dancing for several decades.
I have gotten raked over the coals here before for arguing the same thing. This paragraph should be bronzed and hung in every non-Argentine studio one can find. Thanks for the post.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
And so we're reduced to guessing what the meaning was...
I thought the meaning to be quite clear.....

It has become politically correct to say that show tango is not REAL tango. This would have surprised the first milongueros.
And, here is the bottom line re all dances but applicable to this discussion......
I hate these sort of conversations because they get so polarized. People talk in black and white. But the truth is that all types of tango are OK - in the right place and at the right time.

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#48 must not compare AT with any other dance because AT is so different by its very nature. I know. I used to be a ballroom dancer, and I did the same thing when I started AT. I had to relearn everything to make my AT danceable,....
Amps, you know that I respect you, and we agree on most things, however, I feel that this is nto entirely the fault of yours nor the virtue of AT. The issue here is that BR is just 99% of the time taught and danced poorly, especially at the social levels. A short story.....

Most persons know that I moved to BsAs to learn AT at the advice of Rudolfo Dinzel, who, w/ Gloria, became one of my intial teachers. He is the one who gave me the nickname El Criollo. He said it was b/c of how naturally and quickly I seemed to understand and pick up on the nuances and cultural meanings/feelings of AT. When asked why, I said that it was b/c of my intensive BR training. Of course, they adamantly disagreed, :) but I knew. However, I had not been trained BR in steps/patterns; I was completely movement trained.
.... it took that much of a learning curve because AT is now my ONLY dance. I've since stopped all of my other dances as I find them boring and contaminate my tango.
Again, this is extremely unfortunate. Even the AT dancers in BsAs dance more than AT. Hope I'm not boring you...another short story......

At a workshop, a dancer said to me that I was so good at this (AT) that it must be my favorite dance, and he was shocked when I said, "Yeah, mostly, but on either given day, it loses out to int'l foxtrot, and my second is salsa". He said that he didn' understand b/c BR is so stiff and stuffy and no real connection to the partner. I took him into a dance position (knowing that he was good enough to do this), and said, "Close your eyes, and follow me". I danced an int'l fox once around the floor. When we finished, he said, "That is BR!? Wow, I never knew. It doesn't look like that". Now, I'm not filling my stroke bucket here or somethign like that, I'm simply saying that every dance is a conversation between the partners and a relationship between dancers and music, and just like you wouldn't say that mac and cheese is now your only food, or these pants are the only ones that I wear, AT should not be your only dance.

Yet another lecture by Larry-knows-best. Thanks for enlightening us with your knowledge. When will come the next lecture? We're so impatient.
And, this was unnecessary.


Well-Known Member
i've had better connections with horses than most people. Too much sniping and snobbery about how AT should be. The dance is organic, the people in BsAs are probably not dancing the same way they did a century ago ( my source: Juan Carlos Copes in an interview); variations occur between districts; so its inevitable there will be differences in other countries. There seems to have been a sense of showmanship between BsAs clubs and inventing one's own moves (Farr-Thompson)

whistles nonchalantly

Steve Pastor

Staff member
If you are following this thread as it develops, you might want to go back a page and see the post from jatango that was caught but the filters because it had "links" in it (new member and all that). More testimony about what goes on in BA.


Active Member
I took my daughter to her first Milonga a few weeks ago. There were at least 50 people there. We sat there for over an hour and not one person asked her to dance.
None had seen her dance before. My daughter said, Dad, this is boring, let's go. So I took her to a salsa club where she danced the night away. Most there, had not seen her dance before either.
If I were Milonga king, and that's what Milonga's are all about....I would make some changes. :>)
I tend to agree with Peaches, AMpster and others in regards to social dancing.

I knew someone recently who was learning tango. He was an excellent WCS dancer, and every time he would go out to a milonga, no one would want to dance with him. And he got a big chip on his shoulder about it, reminding people he knew that he was a really good dancer so why wouldn't people dance with him...but that was WCS, not tango. A lot of people seem to think that just becasue you are great in one dance doesn't make you an automatic expert in another.

I don't mean any offense, and I'm sure your daughter is a lovely dancer, but I suspect one reason she was able to go to a salsa club and get dances right away is because she has the look of an experienced dancer in that style due to extensive training, and it's just my assumption from her lack of social tango dancing expereince but I would doubt she has the same look about her for tango. I can tell you from experience that someone can tell pretty quickly when dancing with someone if they have other types of training that are predominant in their dance and snobbish though that may be, it happens and affects whether people ask other people to dance.

It happens a lot, like Peaches said, when you are new, and you need to get to know people and a totally different scene first.

About showing off....fancy moves or show tango or whatever else you may call it....

this is just my opinion, but it also seems like many people think showing off only applies to extravagent moves and those are the only interesting ones and anything else is deadly dull and boring and we must plod along like sheep at crowded milongas. I guess if you haven't learned how to make small movements interesting, it probably does end up that way.

I would like to make the assertion that subtle moves can also be quite involved, but that you are "showing off" to only your partner, rather than taking up large amounts of space in ganchos, lifts and boleos. It would be an audience of 1 if you will, rather than an entire room of people to entertain.

Micro-movements and small rhythmic movements add a lot of interest in the dance, can be quite hard or subtle to lead, and so keep the dancers engaged and "listening" to one another in a confined space, yet aren't particularly showy (though most experienced dancers will see it and understand what it takes to lead something subtle).

For myself, I am equally as impressed when I see a complicated set of movments done well that would be considered flashy as I am by incredibly subtle sets of movments that don't take a lot of space, but requires skill to have executed.


Active Member
Hmmmm...don't know whether I believe that. Oscar Casas makes a pretty good case for it being a variation of the calesita or the rebound/cross-in-place move done off-axis. Go to YouTube and search for "oscar casas volcada".

Rick McGarrey makes a really compelling case for the "stage vs social" in the "Kung Fu Tango" chapter of his website. He has a clip of Gustavo and Giselle-Anne dancing on a small dance floor with some of the old guard. Gustavo and Giselle-Anne are beautiful to watch, creative, inventive - it's gorgeous. But it's completely inappropriate for the situation compared to what the other couples on the floor are doing.

I think the two forms are completely separate beasts - one is for the milonga, one is for the stage. One is directed outward, at an audience, for applause, approval, money, excitement, whatever, and the other is directed inward, towards oneself, the partner, the music, the group gestalt of the ronda. One not really better than the other, but they have different aims.
yes- that Kung-Fu page was hilarious in a terrible sort of way! Only becasue I see exactly that happen so much where I live.

and I agree that although I have no problem with showy moves as in Nuevo and improvised (I actually dislike watching staged tango routines), it has it's place.

Unfortunately, there seem to be less and less people teaching that their students still need to know both if their preference is showy...or you end up with a tango scene like in my area- with Kung Fu tango as the norm because hardly anyone has learned the types of movement appropriate to small or tight settings nor how to make the little they may know of it varied enough to be interesting.
To bastet and others,
Yes, I have seen where a dancer of one dance form carrys over the forms nuances to another dance form. i.e. The Schwimmer girls (cousin Heidi and Lacey) both tried to break into int. latin. The judges saw that they could not shake the w.c. swing styling and were judged accordingly.

However, there are rare exceptions. You see, a lot of it is pyscological. H and L identify themselves as w.c. swing dancers and that is really hard to shake off. My daughter does not identify herself as any specific dance form dancer. She has learned (because of my coaching and managing her dance program all her life) to switch her dance style, off and one like a light bulb.
Now, she/we get a lot of criticism for it, (A dance form and the world it belongs to, can be very jealous and posessive) but that is the choice I have made for her. We have discussed it many, many times...and she is cool with it.

She just started going back to her first mom and pop dance school when she was 2 1/2, to take some hiphop classes with her best friend. She is so beyond the dancers and the instructor....but she is having fun and it excercises that "light bulb switch".

P.S. Angel Hi, once again, ....a wonderful post.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
An older man sitting at a table with a vey young woman... Peaches got this one right. If no one knows who you are, you are very likely to be left alone. Who knows what is going on there, but you?

Have you and your daughter learned about eye contact as a way to ask for and accept a dance, known as the cabezeo in the Argentine Tango scene?
You should also keep in mind that in AT it is tradtional to dance an entire "set", known as a tanda, of music with your partner. Generally the three or more songs in these "sets" are in the same style and speed. So, if you hook up with someone and it is going really badly, you have to either "be rude" and break it off, or suffer through. I don't know of any other dance where this is the case.

Whenever I start checking out a new scene, I always start with short forays. As I learn more about things, and decide I like being part of it, I spend more time.
If you can find an AT practica, or practice, you will find a more relaxed attitude towards these things.

I think people are being a bit hard on you here, but you seem to be taking it well.
I appreciate "micro-movements" as well. At the Milongra that we attended, there was one follow that I noticed that had exceptional footwork via her "micro-movements". I made sure to bring it to my daughter's attention and she appreciated it as well. She (daughter) is a highly trained dancer, ...she is quite capable of recognizing the subtle movements in dance.

As far as the discussion regarding social tango and show tango, it's not a topic that is unique to A.T. The same discussion occurs in other dance forms. A.T. is not as "unique" as you may beleive. Rather than continue to beat this dead horse, (since I think I have exhausted my point), I will agree to disagree.

Steve, I am so sorry. I wasn't completly truthful/wasn't clear on my telling of the events. Yes, she was not asked to dance. On the other hand, the average age of the crowd had to have been mid 50's. The average level of the dancing was mid intermediate. If the crowd were in there mid 20's and there were more adv. to pro. level dancers there, she would have gotten dances, I am certain.
If we could find a Milongra with such a crowd, I am very certain that my daughter would be an amazing A.T. dancer in no time. (...and not for the reasons one may think).
We have some coals in the fire, so,... things should be heating up for her (hopefully) by mid summer.
There are other kinds of show tango. Here Miguel Balmaceda, father of Julio Balmaceda, and teacher in the 80s to a lot of the tango pros of the 90s, does a show with one partner. This is pure social tango, nothing that he wouldn't do in the midst of a crowd. The audience is not a general one that needs all the jumping and lifting and karate kicks of stage tango to stay interested. They can appreciate the subtleties. Nor do they sneer at him for "showing off." Likely he got persuaded by a bunch of aficionados who were eager to see him dance.
Uh, no. This is a performance - there's nobody else on the floor besides him and his partner. And I doubt very seriously he would have done the sequence at 0:43 (a figure with multiple blind backsteps against LOD) or the series of stationary giros at 1:00 - 1:18, culminating with her god-awful waist-high leg wrap, anywhere on any social dance floor. I don't think his buddies would've cut him that much slack.

And she's just awful. [shudder]

Here is a respected milonguero, Jorge 'El Gallego' Garcia, doing some fancy stuff in the middle of a crowd, but a loose crowd that lets him and his partner do movements that take up a fair amount of space. At :38 seconds, for instance, he leads a volcada. In other words, tricky and acrobatic movements often done on the stage are being done as part of social dancing. There's no way to be sure, of course, but my guess is that these dancers are dancing for each other and no one else.
Yes, and the place is almost empty, it's not wall-to-wall people, and who knows what was going through his mind at the time? Was he trying to impress the young lady with whom he was dancing? Who knows? Find me a video of El Gallego or his brother El Flaco "cutting a rug", going full-out with all the fancy stuff, at Gricel or some other milonga where it's crowded. Find me a video of Ricardo Vidort or Osvaldo and Coco doing volcadas, colgadas, or big honkin' planeo/enrosque/kicking-between-the-legs and I'll concede the point.

In other words, the distinction between show and social dancing is useful but not an absolute; there are lots of cross-overs between the two.
Agreed - I think the point some of the rest of us are trying to make that is that the average Joe and Josephine (in North America, at least) can't tell the difference between the two, or aren't taught the difference between the two, and they certainly aren't being taught what's appropriate for the social dance floor versus the stage. I've got a sufficient number of scars on my feet and legs to attest to that.
I have gotten raked over the coals here before for arguing the same thing. This paragraph should be bronzed and hung in every non-Argentine studio one can find. Thanks for the post.
Uh, no. It's very definitely a snarky statement, what with the "criminals" comment and all that. Sure, we know the old guys "cut a rug" when they get the chance. But this post has the subtext of, "I wanna dance the way I want to, when I want to!", i.e., Texas bar-fight attitude, North American narcissism, etc.

Fine, whatever - just stay away from me and partner, stay in your lane, and we'll be ok.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Since I'm the one who wrote about dutifully plodding around the room, and others have picked up on it...
(my bolding)

"The problem with this style, lovely as it is, is that it lacks the fascinating choreographic challenge of all the authentic styles of the Golden Age, apart from the style of the geographic centre and centre south in the early 1950s on which is was loosely based. The thing that makes this style exciting is the connection within the couple and the musicality of the dancers. Quite quickly I started to notice people finding ways of manipulating the close embrace in order to maintain an emotional distance from their partners. Most particularly I noticed people not dancing directly in front of each other, but with the follower away to the leader's right. This was certainly not my experience of dancing with people who had danced this style in the 1950s. They always were directly in front of me, as were almost all the dancers I danced with who had been dancing in the Golden Age, whatever the style.
So quite quickly people began to get bored with this style, as they were not getting the emotional connection that made the style work, but were also not getting the chorographic challenge of the other styles.
And I think that's about where I am.

Here's another reason for my comment...
The music in AT often will accellerate for short passages. One instrument will come to the fore with "double time" notes. There is a way, too, of suggesting "swirling", circular, or calecita like movement. 90+% of people continue dancing the same steps at the same speed in the same direction.


Active Member
Amps, you know that I respect you, and we agree on most things, however, I feel that this is nto entirely the fault of yours nor the virtue of AT. The issue here is that BR is just 99% of the time taught and danced poorly, especially at the social levels. A short story...
Angel no problem at all. It was a concious choice that I made, knowing what I wanted. It has worked well for me. I know that everyone's journey is different. This was mine. :cheers:


Active Member
I hate these sort of conversations because they get so polarized. People talk in black and white. But the truth is that all types of tango are OK - in the right place and at the right time.

The thing is to dance appropriately. You should adopt milonguero style when you're dancing on a tile in Buenos Aires, and you can dance tango nuevo when there are only a handful of couples on the dance floor.

On a more controversial note, I've read before this idea that the milongueros will "expand" their dancing later on in an evening and dance more adventurously. I somehow doubt that myself. Surely if you hardly ever dance say volcadas you wouldnt feel inclined to do them even if you had the space?

I admit I havent been late at night to the more "traditional" milongas. So I would be interested to hear other people's views on this.
well here's some videos of a Buenos Aires milonga with crowd and without...

Club Gricel with a crowd:

Club Gricel not so crowded:

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