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Tango Styles - an Introduction

Providing a definitive guide to modern Argentine tango styles is a most difficult and controversial thing indeed! When this author researched the topic - and the research was exhaustive, as it is for all articles in the Very Tango website - a number of things became imminently apparent:
  • Very significant contradiction existed between various authorities (ie tango historians and teachers) on the attributes of the different tango styles.
  • Many of the styles no longer exist or have dubious accuracy in their description because of reliance on small source sample size or word-of-mouth.
  • The number of potentially different styles was enormous: this author counted no less than 36 different styles whilst researching this topic.
in order to bring the reader a list of tango styles that was usable, accurate and meaningful, hard choices had to be made:
  • Tango styles selected had to have a reasonable level of agreement as to their meaning and essential characteristics by a large number of sources.
  • Styles that are no longer in use, or are defined to be in use by a very small set of users, were excluded.
  • Styles should be clearly observable in their own right by someone not versed in their subtle nuances. A good metric for that would be the ability to discern the style in a video. For example saying that tango styles A and B were different because style A was 'more flowing' than B was not deemed a useful differentiator.
  • Styles that were essentially the same were merged. It should be noted that this author has provided the alternative names where they exist. For example Show Tango and Tango Fantasia.
  • Only direct derivatives of Argentine Tango were selected. For example Ballroom Tango and Queer Tango are valid and recognizable tango styles, but are considered branched away from the evolutionary mainline 'trunk' of Argentine Tango.

Types of Tango Styles

The following tango styles are covered in Very Tango: