Tango is losing its role models

Making the journey to the home of tango is no guarantee that one will find good role models for social dancing. You need to sift through so many styles and venues to find the real thing.

Group classes rarely produce good social dancers. After so many years in Buenos Aires, I feel that tango is best learned in the culture it was born. Those who come to dance in the milongas reap the benefits. It’s where they learn the codes and customs which are basically ignored in their local communities. Dancers may call it tango, but they are adding their local flavor; Buenos Aires isn’t an ingredient.

My approach to teaching today is entirely different from when I began in 1993 in Chicago. I could teach what I learned from others, which had no resemblance to the social style of the Buenos Aires milongas. My eyes were opened in 1996 in Buenos Aires, and it took years to understand what is so different about tango there.

Now I offer a free three-hour weekly session to anyone who is interested in social tango. We begin with exercises to prepare the body. I talk about the rhythms and feeling the music, not about steps. The milonga codes and customs are part of each class from the start. I record during the class for self-criticism and improvement. The goal is to dance well with a stranger at a milonga. I’ve learned so much from the milongueros viejos who are no longer around and want to pass it on to keep social tango alive and well. Tango is losing its role models. Performers aren’t doing social tango any good.

[My comment posted on Tango High and Low, May 12, 2017]


7 Responses to “Tango is losing its role models”

  1. Don Bridges Says:

    I would enjoy the experience of one or more of these sessions, please do respond, I fully enjoy observing good social tango, with the desire to learn. Thanks Jan

  2. Joyce Kastel Says:

    Good Morning: I live in Montevideo seven months of the year, and should love to learn tango. If you ever come here to teach, please let me know. I’d love to join you.

    I love your posts, thank you, Joyce

    Sent from my iPad


  3. jantango Says:


    The best place to learn tango is Buenos Aires. You won’t find any tango in Montevideo.

  4. jantango Says:


    Please contact me here when you are in Buenos Aires, and we can arrange sessions.

  5. R. Bononno Says:

    Ahh, yes, the never-ending search for role models. Always the problem here as there aren’t many to go around. Maybe we have to create new ones?

  6. jantango Says:

    I tell people to get to Buenos Aires as soon as possible before all the incredible role models from the 40s and 50s are gone. There is nothing like seeing an original up close; a copy isn’t quite the same.

  7. Felicity Says:

    Like milongueros, role models aren’t created, they become visible. Both terms are accorded, not assumed.

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