When I was in high school in New Zealand, in the weeks leading up to the school ball (equivalent to senior prom in the USA), students in the senior forms had ballroom dance lessons in preparation for the ball. These dance lessons were held during lunch break in the school hall. During these lessons, I learned many different ballroom dances, none of which I can remember now.
The first time that I danced ballroom tango was in one of these dance lessons at school. Unfortunately, the reason I remember this is because I fell down in front of most of the senior school while dancing the tango. I thought I had tripped over the guy’s feet. He claims he pushed me down. Whatever the truth, suffice to say that my first experience with the tango was very embarrassing.
Fast forward many years later, and I enrolled in an Argentine tango class. Actually, ballroom tango is very different from Argentine tango. They are almost like completely different dances, but I signed up for the Argentine tango class anyway. Why? Because I guess I still have some unfinished business left with the tango. Also, the flyer advertising this class claims that, ‘If you can walk, you can dance Argentine tango.’ This intrigued me, and I wanted to find out if this claim is true.
Argentine tango started at the end of the 19th century on the streets of Buenos Aires. It is an intimate and sensual dance, totally improvised, with an emphasis on the connection between the two dancers. Argentine tango is danced to the accompaniment of the bandoneón, which is a musical instrument that looks like an accordion.
My only goal for this class was: don’t fall down, and try and have fun. So far, I have managed not to fall down, but as a beginner I have also been dancing in my socks. Having big guys who don’t know how to dance either step on my toes really hurt! So I thought I would write about Argentine tango shoes.
Both tango shoes for men and women look like regular street shoes. But tango shoes are made of leather or suede, including in the soles, and this makes doing pivots and turns a lot easier. Tango shoes for women are beautiful, and always high-heeled. The heels are around 2.5 to 3.5 inches high (6.5 – 9cm). Women’s tango shoes can be in a covered or peep-toe style, and they are always strappy, with straps that go around the ankle. On the inside, tango shoes should have a soft lining, preferably of leather. To be able to dance in them, tango shoes should fit securely so that the feet are not sliding around inside the shoes. This often means wearing tango shoes a half size smaller than regular street shoes.
So is it true that if you can walk, you can dance Argentine tango? Well… I would say that if you can walk backwards in high heels while doing pivots and turns, then yes, you can dance Argentine tango.