Alaina’s Weekly Playlist: Tango

Disclaimer: The authoress would like her readers to know that this playlist is shorter because she does not know many Tango songs.  Any additional songs in the comments would be appreciated.


tangoHey, all.  I just wanted to let y’all know that I was worried about whether or not I’d actually make the commitment today concerning these playlists of mine.  School is getting busier and busier now that finals are approaching.  In fact, I’m starting to seriously brainstorm one final right now.  It’s a cumulative twelve to fifteen page paper.  I can either write three separate essays of four pages, excluding my bibliography, or do a single 12-15 page paper on a more heavily researched topic.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but I’m actually leaning toward the latter.  It will be an invigorating challenge, and I’ve done a similarly sized paper before, except the limit was 10 pages.  I’m hoping to do my essay will either involve quantum mechanics (specifically Schrödinger’s Cat), God’s relationship to time, or string theory.  I’m only slightly familiar with these topics, so researching could actually be pretty fun.  This is only one thing I have to do for finals this spring.  All this being said, you may not see me next Monday or very often at all in the coming weeks because of my work load.

Digression aside, let’s get tango-ing.  I’ve done some prior research before this post, but I’ll spare you all the nit-picky details.  Tango originated in Argentina, and is still danced there regularly.  However, there is a significant difference between the tango I dance, and the one all the Argentinians dance.  I dance Ballroom Tango, something you’ll definitely see in competitions.  The Argentinians dance the appropriately named Argentine Tango.  You’ll find that the latter is the club’s tango, the former, not so much.  In Ballroom Tango, you’re left hand is sort of hooked under the man’s right arm.  If you’ve ever heard the term “armpit hold” on my blog, this is exactly what I’m referring to.  Argentine Tango does not have a hold.  Instead, it’s called the embrace.  This is quite apt considering that the dancers practically give each other a big hug while dancing, at least that’s what it looks like to me.  I have only a miniscule amount of experience in Argentine, and I found it to be quite difficult.  It seemed less structured and less predictable.  Here’s the kicker: I have to start with my left foot.  This is quite difficult considering that most experienced followers are used to stepping backwards on the right foot.  If memory serves me correctly, the woman has to start by stepping forward on her left foot for Argentine.  Gah!  Well, this playlist isn’t about Argentine, it’s about the more familiar Ballroom Tango.

  • “El Choclo”—The video classifies this as Argentine, and it’s probably right.  However, I wouldn’t mind, musically speaking, teaching someone Ballroom Tango to this song, especially since it’s so slow.  The tempo is still consistent.
  • “Please, Mr. Brown” by Alma Cogan—This one is a pretty familiar piece.  I also wouldn’t mind teaching a beginner to this song.
  • “Hernando’s Hideaway” from The Pajama Game—I do not believe the castanets are a very common sound in a true Tango, but I enjoy this song, castanets and all.
  • “Whatever Lola Wants” from Damn Yankees—I like the slow, smooth beat of this version.  If you’ll recall, I have a teacher at the studio named Lola.  Her fellow teachers reference this song all the time.  She hates it. 😀
  • “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago—This one is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Normally, my music has very few swear words in it.  A swear word may occur once or twice, three at the maximum, in my music.  That being said, I certainly don’t mind the swearing here.  I listen to this whenever I get frustrated with college men.  One of my professors likes it, too.  She says here husband always gets worried whenever she starts singing it.  Gee, I wonder why. 😉

This is something that José, one of the teachers, said in reference to Tango: “Love me, hate me; just dance with me.”  He told me one of his teachers used to say that about Tango.  So, I’m passing it on to y’all.  That’s what Tango is all about: tension.  Yes, there is definite tension in the Tango, and yes, that tension is sexual, at least that’s what’s implied most of the time.  However, I wouldn’t call it erotic.  It’s probably better associated with the frustrations men and women have concerning one another.  Yet, sometimes they can’t keep their hands off each other. *smirk*  One of my favorite analogies concerning a tango figure is about the corte (another name is cambio).  The corte is the quintessential “picture shot”.  The man leans back, while the lady leans into him, head turned away towards her extended, non-standing leg.  When I was first learning it during my Denver lessons, my teacher described the corte like this, and it’s always stuck with me:

Remember the Tango is all about love-hate.  The man pursues, but the woman isn’t having any of it.  In the corte, the man is trying to pull the woman in for a kiss, but she clearly doesn’t want to be kissed.  So, she turns her head away to visually reject him.

This playing-hard-to-get vibe is my favorite thing about Tango.  It’s such a fun character to play.  There’s a delicious give-and-take in the Tango, too.  Plus, it’s just awesome when both you and your partner get into it and glare at one another like you hate each other just for the duration of the song.  It’s this drama that makes Tango a close second to the Waltz. (The latter, by the way, will eventually include Viennese, sharing the number one spot with its slower counterpart.)  So, all you college boys, whether you want to dance with me or not, let’s try a tango.  Shall we?

2 thoughts on “Alaina’s Weekly Playlist: Tango

  1. I like Caro Emerald’s Tangled Up, but I’m not quite sure if it’s suitable for the international tango. It works nicely for a Tango Argentino although it probably will not appeal to the conservative Argentine tango aficionados.

  2. I started Argentine Tango a few months ago, and I absolutely love it. I don’t have a ballroom background, so nothing I am learning contradicts something I learned previously, so I am sure that helps. The three biggest struggles, as a non-dancer learning to dance as an adult, have been letting the man lead, letting him into my personal space, and seeing the dance as a conversation instead of as choreography (which I guess is related to letting the man lead). I can memorize choreography, but trusting the man to lead me without me falling down is something else altogether. I have started exploring Tango music somewhat, but all Argentine. I like a lot of music by Gotan Project. It is sort of Neo-tango.

The floor is yours now.

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