Learning Argentine Tango can be an incredibly fulfilling experience which might open a different dimension of self-development. At the same time, learning Argentine Tango can be challenging as it is a highly improvisational dance that might be slower to learn than what you expect.
Here are some tips as you consider or already start to learn Argentine Tango based on my years of experience learning it and teaching it:
1.- Enjoy the ride:
Tango is a complex dance, even though tango dancers learn complex patterns, we improvised all the time by changing the patterns and connecting them in different ways. A leader dancer needs to consider different elements e.g. to remember the sequences, to lead them properly and to listen to the movements of the follower, to dance to the music, to adapt to the dance floor. A follower dancer also has important challenges: to stay present in the moment and try not to anticipate what is coming, to adapt to different leads, to stay relaxed but active and sensitive to the nuances of the lead, to listen to the music.
As your journey begins, I advice you to enjoy it. It is easy to want to skip ahead to the moment in which you will feel proficient, but the key to get there is to enjoy the process: to learn Argentine Tango is not an instant process, it requires time and patience.
2.- Become familiar with all the aspects of the dance:
Argentine tango is embedded in the specific culture that nurtured it. Even though tango continues to evolve as it is practiced by more and more people throughout the globe, it is still useful for your learning process to become familiar with the different aspects of the dance.
The advise here is not to limit your learning to the tango lessons, but expand a bit your learning sources. This doesn’t mean that you need to learn Spanish language! (although later on in your journey, perhaps you might want to learn a bit ;) ) Instead, simpler things will do:
listen to tango (here is an example playlist in Spotify that you might want to visit);
watch documentaries about tango (here is a good examplee with subtitles in English),
follow conversations abut tango (here is a link to a series of conversations I had during corona times with different renowned tango dancers)
3.- “Practice and all is coming”:
If you take a beginner course, I advise you to reserve some extra time to practice aside from the lessons. A little bit goes a long way: 30 minutes, for instance, will do. In this time, practice the basics first: walk with your partner before you go on to try the sequences. After 10-15 minutes walking, review the sequences you learned in the course. A useful tip for this, is to ask your teacher to show at the end of the lesson what you have done, to record it with your phone so that later you use that for your practice.
If you don’t have a dance partner: try to get one, ask someone in your lesson if they want to practice. A dance partner doesn’t need to be someone from the opposite sex, 2 ladies or 2 guys can practice and help each other in their learning process.
Final tip: Don’t forget to enjoy!!!
If you decide to learn tango, you do it because you want to add something new and meaningful to your life. To learn Argentine Tango can be slow and challenging, but it will also bring you so much joy!
Enjoy the ride!