About Argentine Tango Dancing

Argentine Tango Dance Vancouver

This is a description about the Vancouver Tango community and how we can help you enjoy it. Argentine Tango (AT) is popular in the Lower Mainland with many people learning at tango schools each year. A newcomer will be surprised at the variety, opportunities and events around town. It is seductive, playful and flirtatious with a great variety movements to enjoy. In fact, the unique moves, styling and technique that AT dancers enjoy are now being copied by many other dance styles.

If you prefer to just find out course times click here

We also have a weekly  milonga:

La Rayuela Alternative Milonga

When:  Every 2nd Wednesday of the month Alternative Music Milonga from 8:30 – 11:30pm.

Admission:  : $15 /$10 students with Id lesson and Milonga $25

WHERE: Lochdale hall 490 Sperling in Burnaby

How did Tango originate?

The history of the Argentine Tango dance is diverse and very long and, since most people who come to this page prefer to learn about what it can do for them, we will leave the history of AT to the historians. Visit Totango.net for a great history article.

So what about Tango dancing in Vancouver?

AT is enjoying a period of enthusiastic growth in the community. There are many Milongas (dance socials), workshops and festivals. It is important to know there are distinct philosophies ranging from how dancers embrace, dance style and steps to the music selection.

There are two main dance styles (philosophies) in the Lower Mainland:

Milonguero: danced always in a close embrace to strictly classical music. The movements are small but can be very diverse with practised skill. This style is excellent for busy dance floors and gives the dancer a very good foundation. It is also an incredibly connected style between the partners but is not showy or flamboyant. In fact it is rather boring to watch but to dance it in the way it is meant to be enjoyed is magical.

Salon Style: also known as Club style, is danced in open and close embrace and has the more ‘flashy’ movements you see on YouTube. A skilled tanguero (AT dancer) can make these movements big or small depending on how crowded the dance floor is or how expressive s/he wants to be. The music will also ‘speak’, to the dancer and inspire the range of movement. Salon is traditionally danced to classic music but it has been translated to be danced with more contemporary music as well. There is one contemporary style: Neo Tango.

Nuevo  Tango: are starting to get danced in the Lower Mainland but is not as wide spread as the other styles yet. The style may have a more Open Embrace  to music that is very progressive in sound   We include nuevo and neo music, styling and technique along with the all important traditional concepts to give our students a broad overview of AT allowing them to find the style that is ideal for them.

Neo Tango started in the 1950’s when composers started to experiment with the traditional orchestra to create new tempos. accents, and feel in the music. Modern day Nuevo still uses many of the instruments from the orchestra (especially the Bandoneon) but has a distinct and cool today sound to it. Neo experiments with Nuevo and can do anything with music and instruments as well as include top 40 music that wasn’t intended for tango in the first place but works great! There are also new movements that are unique to these two styles.

Dance types:

There are also 3 types of tango:

Tango: as described above.

Milonga: Yup it is a dance style and a name for a social as well. It is lively and joyful where dancers play around with quick movements, staccato rhythms and lots of smiles. It uses many of the same movements and techniques as tango but, its fun rhythm and character make this a whole new dance!

Tango Vals: is the ‘waltz’, version of tango with a 1, 2, 3 , 1, 2, 3 rhythm and a character that is similar to Viennese waltz. Rest assured this is not old time ballroom dancing as it uses plenty of tango movements and techniques as well. Fantastico!

Check out these videos for examples of the different AT styles. Note that these are performance level dances but all have the simpler social elements as their foundation. The cool thing is that the amazing dancers in these videos were beginners once too.


Tango Salon

Tango Milonguero

Tango Vals



What to expect at the clubs:

The first thing about Vancouver Tango dancing is that you get great value. These events (milongas) occur every night of the week and offer workshops and dancing to the early morning for about $10 to $20 dollars per person. So much fun for about the price of going to a movie! Most serve refreshments and snacks too.

They get lots of regular guests plus new people who come to check out the scene. The nice thing about regular attendance is that you will see the same people time and again so you will make new friends. The skill level ranges from absolute beginners to advanced and performance level. Most people are social dancers so they keep their dance steps pretty simple.

There are a variety of AT dances around town:

Milonga: a social where people get together and dance the three dance types. The music is mostly classic and the style tends to be salon style. There are also ‘purist’ milongas that play only music for milonguero style. It is a good idea to check the dance style and music played when deciding where to go. Tango Burnaby plays the widest variety of music offering something for everyone. We have a Milonga on the 4th Saturday each month.

The music is played in groups of 3 or 4 songs called a ‘tanda. This allows the partners to get to know each others’ skill level and build connection. Start simple with the first song then add with each other song if appropriate. You know a tanda is finished when a different song type (salsa, swing etc) is played. This break between tanda’s is called a ‘cortina’.

Practica: practice time where folks come together and practice what you learn. There are usually no tandas the music just plays continuously. Most people also do not have partners, they just come on their own and dance together and make friends. We have a Sunday Practica that is guided by teachers coming around to give students tips and encouragement to help them progress.

Galas: Milongas on steroids! Same general format as milonga but with high level performance by master tangueros and entertainment.

Festivals: Relatively new to Vancouver but already world class in quality the festivals are usually 5 day events with workshops, milongas, galas and practicas all in one. They also bring in many of the top AT masters from around the world.

Dispelling A Few Argentine Tango Myths

AT is one of our specialties and we are fortunate to teach folks from all walks of life. Imagine our dismay when we found out that some people want to learn tango but don’t because of some common misconceptions:

MYTH 1: Argentine Tango is the hardest dance to learn. Social Tango is very approachable for anyone. Performance Tango is hard. Just like driving your car in city traffic is much easier than driving your car in a rally race. It also depends on how it is taught. A teacher can make it harder than it needs to be. Peter is a tango teacher who specializes in teaching our beginner level and uses real world working examples that folks can relate to.

MYTH 2: You need a partner. NOPE! Fact is, just like any other of our pair dances, the vast majority of Tango dancers are single and take classes alone but make friends as they go to class and parties.

MYTH 3: The close embrace is scary. It can be for folks who have never done it before which is why we ease you into the close embrace starting with the open embrace. Once you understand how the close embrace is done and how comfortable it is you will enjoy it. Bet you didn’t know that there are styles of tango that are always open embrace… woo hoo a revelation!

Is Tango dancing the right choice for me?

Knowing what dance style works for you is like buying a car. You have to get in and drive it for a while. There are a couple things you can do before you decide to take a tango lesson.

Watch YouTube vids. You can even use the video links we provided (above) then browse the related links YouTube provides.

Watch a class at our studio. Just visit our schedule page and you will see folks from all different walks of life in our classes.

So how can Tango Burnaby help you to learn Tango?

Ours is a tango dance school that starts you with  Salon styles to help you feel comfortable at the clubs whatever music they play. Our higher levels explore the Nuevo and Neo as well. We understand that when beginners are learning tango dance steps you need the fundamentals to get moving and gain confidence to go to the clubs. We also know that beginners and experienced dancers will encounter some challenges and we are here to help you overcome them and build on your successes as you progress. After all, we were beginners once to and we’ve been there.

We start with balanced classes meaning that we don’t have twenty guys and five girls (for example). You will get to dance with lots of different people or, if you came with a partner and don’t want to rotate, no problem. Rotating partners is one of the best learning tools to help you build confidence faster, just saying. Our courses are structured so that each lesson picks up from the previous thus making sense. We also provide plenty of review and repetition so you don’t have to worry if you miss a class. Our class sizes are small to medium so you don’t feel lost in a crowd. We also have practice time with tango teachers on hand for fine tuning. Basically we are there every step of the way (pardon the pun) to help you build confidence to go out to the clubs.

click here for course schedule

Course Descriptions.


Gets you started with fundamentals in movement to help you move easily through the walk ( caminata) . Then we help you move together with a partner and learn how to avoid stepping on each other’s feet (students really like this). From there you will learn syncopation’s, turns,  ochos, giros, musicality (  classic music), dance etiquette and how to ensure your partner enjoys dancing with you.

Intermedaite Level
covers the back Ocho, the cross, contra body position, shifting from back to forward ocho, gancho, refined walking with syncopation’s, barridas, musicality.

tracking (lanes), sacadas, checks from the cross, Technique for pivots , musicality, molinete and boleo.



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