How to Tango like a Porteño

Porteños (natives of Buenos Aires) are commonly thought of as strong, confident leaders. I see this also. (As a DJ, I watch the dancers a lot, especially in how they relate to the music, because I pick music which causes the dancers to connect.) I notice that the women prefer Porteños as partners, and it makes me wonder what they are doing that women like so much. 

Porteños seem to have a sense of Musicality quite different from ours.  We dance to the beat and use sequences and figures that fit with the beat, while Porteños dance to the nuances and variations of the music – they dance to the music that departs from “the beat”.  We may dance right through a phrase without rhythm – a pause – or we may dance a rhythmic figure – but out of sync with the rhythm of the music.  Often we step when there is no bass beat to step on.

Tango rhythm is complex, it’s easy to dance “on the beat” but not in sync with the rhythm.  When our dance does not match the rhythm of the music, we try to depend on lead and follow to communicate the rhythm, but when we’re not in sync with our partner, it’s hard to be connected.

American dancing and ballroom dancing depend on matching the figures and technique of our partner.  The hallmark of Argentine Tango is Connection; no other dance has this same degree of connection. 

For many years, it was thought that the way to learn tango was to learn figures and technique.  The hope was that once you learned the figures and techniques, you could break them down into their parts and recombine them.  For me, this never worked!  I learned many figures, but I was still not connected to my partner, and I was a poor dancer.  Watching the dance floor from my DJ console, I could often see that couples were not in sync.  Not connected.  For the last 25 years in America we have relied on figures, while Porteños have instead depended on Musicality.

Watching Argentine Tango on the Dance floor, or in videos, or in the milongas in Buenos Aires, the most common difference I saw between the dance of the Porteños and my own was that their musicality was far better than mine.  I saw many styles of dance, many styles of leading, and many different interpretations of the music, but the best dancing always included great Musicality. So I set out to learn Musicality.  When I learned Musicality, I danced more confidently, I found it easier to lead, and I felt like I owned the dance floor – I could always find a great partner.

The course that gave me musicality in my tango is  Tango Musicality Mojo