One of the most fascinating of all dances, the tango is a sensual ballroom dance that originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the early twentieth century. The tango dance is usually performed by a man and a woman, expressing an element of romance in their synchronized movements. Originally, the tango was performed only by women, but once it spread beyond Buenos Aires, it developed into a dance for couples.
Ballroom tango originated in working-class Buenos Aires and the dance spread quickly through Europe during the 1900's, then moved on to the United States. In 1910, tango began gaining popularity in New York.
Tango has become very popular in recent years, as evidenced by the various movies developed around the dance. Several films showcase the tango, such as Scent of a Woman, Take the Lead, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, True Lies, Shall We Dance, and Frida.
While dancing the tango, the woman is typically held in the crook of the man’s arm. She holds her head back and rests her right hand on the man's lower hip, and the man must allow the woman to rest in this position while leading her around the floor in a curving pattern. Tango dancers must strive to make a strong connection with the music as well as their audience in order for it to be successful.
Argentine Tango is much more intimate than Modern Tango and is well-suited to dancing in small settings. Argentine Tango also retains the intimacy of the original dance. Several other different styles of tango exist, each with its own individual flair. Most of the styles danced include open embrace, with the couple having space between their bodies, or in a close embrace, where the couple is closely connected at either the chest or the hip area.
Argentine, Uruguayan, and Ballroom Tango use very different techniques. In Argentine and Uruguayan tango, the body's center moves first, then the feet reach to support it. In ballroom tango, the body is initially set in motion across the floor through the flexing of the lower joints (hip, knee, ankle) while the feet are delayed, then the feet move quickly to catch the body. In tango, the steps are typically more gliding, but can vary widely in timing, speed, and character, and follow no single specific rhythm.