Phil Seyer and his associates are available for
private or group dance lessons in the San Francisco, Sacramento/Roseville
Area. Call Phil at 866-401-3535
Getting Married? Learn Argentine tango dance (& other dances) and look great for your wedding. Click here for tips on preparing for the wedding reception.
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This page discusses the basic step often taught to beginners. For more Argentine tango steps and ideas on how to move on from this basic pattern, you may want to see my Argentine Tango Checklist.
Be Inspired. Watch the movie:
Phil also gives free music theory lessons online and is available for private instruction in piano, guitar, keyboard, recorder and...
Indian Love Flute (shown above)
Click here or on the flute to find out more about Indian Love flutes--they are easy to play and sound great!
You will be a better dancer when you understand music. Learn music from Phil acclaimed book What Makes Music Work.
NOTE: It's funny but true that tango is
often misspelled as tamgo, tanog, tagno, tnago, atngo. Argentine is often
spelled as: argetine, argenine, algantein, algentein, argantein, argentne,
argentein, argentie, argentin, argntine, argantin, arentine, algentin,
agentine, argantine, algentine, algantine, argent1ne, argemtine, argentien,
argentnie, argenitne, argetnine, argnetine, aregntine, agrentine, ragentine,
See also our links to other Argentine Tango websites.
Please see also my Argentine tango checklist.)
Tango is an exciting, sexy dance. Argentine tango is special variety of tango -- it tends to be more romantic than International (English) and American tango.
Argentine tango is ... magical, intoxicating, mysterious, romantic, and passionate!
So AT (Argentine Tango) is a very good choice for a couple's first dance at a wedding reception. AT is unusual in that it can be danced to many different kinds of music -- you don't have to dance it to, specifically Argentine tango music. I've seen Ken Delmar dance Argentine tango in a nightclub in San Francisco to a trio playing smooth jazz and wow, it was impressive and looked great. To see what I mean, click on the picture below of Ken Delmar dancing with Elaine Sirois.
(If you live in the Bay Area or plan to visit San Francisco, consider taking private dance lessons from Ken and Natasha shown in photo above.) Phil Seyer also offers private dance lessons in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Roseville.
Argentine tango Instructional videos
are a good adjunct to private and group lessons.
Listen to Argentine Tango Music online. To hear the exciting variety of Argentine tango music, I suggest you visit todotango.com, which has an Argentine tango radio station -- it received a "Best Music site in Argentina" award. Click on The Radio in left column once you get to todotango.
To hear some very sweet, mesmerizing music, check this out: Argentine tango music by Pedro Aznar The previous link will take you to a page describing DJ, Jackie Wong. Jackie says she loves traditional tango music but is also committed to offering alternative Argentine tango music. Listen for: bandeon, guitars, strings, male and female vocalists singing in harmony and a dominant 7th chord at the end that doesn't resolve. It leaves you begging for more!.
Argentine tango dancing is often much more relaxed and romantic than American tango. Here's an example of a sweet romantic piece of Argentine tango music featuring a bandoneon. Notice how the bandoneon player can make the music quite expressive by how he expands and contracts the bellows of the bandeon.
Now, watch and listen as the bandoneon player brings this same piece of tango music to an exciting, dramatic conclusion! Only Argentine tango has this wide expressive range. Note: this music is from Adios nonino by Piazzolla played at Tango for You-- a performance at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco in 1998 (coordinated by Ken and Natasha Delmar)
Argentine Tango proved useful recently when I was helping a young couple get ready for their first dance as a married couple. They had a nice song picked out, but none of the ballroom dances seemed to fit. I racked my brain for a moment trying to come up with a dance. I mentally tried Foxtrot, nightclub two-step and rumba, but they didn't fit. Waltz was obviously inappropriate. Then it came to me: Argentine tango! It wasn't Argentine tango music, but the dance worked perfectly with that music and the couple loved it.
Those that love Argentine tango are passionate about it and sometimes go to extremes when discussing it. The discussions are often educational and sometimes scary, and just plain funny. . To see what I mean, I suggest you join the Tango-L list. It is an email discussion group that talks about everything Argentine tango.
Also you may want to join Phil's Argentine tango webboard discussion by clicking here.
Tango is a highly improvised dance. Actually, at the advanced levels all dances are highly improvised. It is usually only the beginning and intermediate dancers who usually struggle and memorize frozen, rigid patterns.
Yet having a simple, basic pattern is useful. Everyone needs somewhere to start. Its good to have a solid foundation and then branch out from there. The problem, though, is some people don't realize that the steps they learn in beginning lessons are only a foundation and are not meant to be the end-all, be-all. So when you learn a basic pattern, also be on the look out for how you can vary that pattern and break away from it. Remember, the basic step is not the dance! In the discussion below, I present a basic step that is often taught to beginning Argentine tango dancers.
A Basic Step for Beginners. Even Argentine tango has a basic pattern often recommended for beginners. The usual beginning pattern in AT (Argentine tango) is called the 8-count basic. Note: some experienced AT dancers have called it the "hated 8-count basic." Perhaps that's because beginners lock into this step and don't learn how to move on from there. When studying this lesson, keep in mind that this is only a starting point and it is important to branch out from here.(After studying this lesson, please see my Argentine tango checklist. -- the checklist will help you grow and avoid getting stuck in the basic step.)
Notice that the leader steps back on count 1 with his right foot. That's often dangerous unless you are aware of what is behind you! Many beginners often end up stepping on someone as they take a BIG step backwards to start the dance. That's one reason it's called the "hated 8-count basic. Experienced dancers are often stepped on by beginners. This can be avoided by taking a small step back and by waiting until there is no one behind you before taking that first back step. We don't have eyes in the back of our head, but we can have awareness of what our personal dance space is. This first step needs to be a small step, taken back under one's own body (in one's established space).
Ballroom dancers will be confused by this first step because in nearly all ballroom dances, the leader starts with his left foot. (Although AT is danced more and more these days in ballrooms, it is not a traditional ballroom dance.)
Step 2 is often described as stepping side, left. You can think of it that way; but just realize that you should bring your left foot back to the right foot before stepping side.
Step 3 is forward and outside of the partner's right side.This is called Outside-Partner-Right. In taking this step you bring your feet together before stepping forward. (This is called collecting your feet.) In the diagram above, this step is labeled "RF side and forward" -- a better description could be "Collect RF to LF before stepping forward."). In taking step, be sure to keep your upper body facing toward partner.
Next, let's take a look at steps 5, 6, and 7 for the 8-count basic pattern:
Steps 6 and 7 are the beginning of the what is often called the "tan-go-close." The leader steps forward on step 6. On step 7, the leader brings his right foot forward near his left foot and then steps side.
In Step 8, the leader closes his left foot to his right foot, putting weight onto left foot so he is ready to repeat the basic pattern by stepping back with his right foot. This is different from the American style tan-go-close where the leader drags his left foot toward his right foot and does not put weight on his left foot. In the American style, the leader needs to be read to step forward with the left foot that's why he doesn't change weight.
That's it for the leader. The follower steps with the opposite foot as the leader and steps in the opposite direction. That is, when the leader steps back with his right, she steps forward with her left. The follower, however, does something more interesting on step 5. She crosses her left foot in front of her right (when led to do that). To do that smoothly she needs to adjust her other steps slightly. (I'll show that in more detail in a later installment of this lesson.) Most teachers recommend that followers put all their weight on the left foot as they cross left over right. (More advanced followers avoid shifting weight directly on step 5 because it gives them more options. This advanced follower's technique is discussed by Pulpo in his instructional video The Technique of Pulpo. (Send Phil email if you'd like order Pulpo's video.).
Keep in mind that this is just a starting point -- a basic pattern that you can use to branch off from. There are many variations. The 8CB is not Argentine tango -- just a tip of the iceberg! However, it is important to know the 8CB so that when, for example, a teach says, "Let's do a back ocho from count 3," you can follow along quickly. Additional steps will be discussed in future lessons.
If you are a ballroom dancer, remember, Argentine Tango is a unique partner dance. It is being danced more and more in ballrooms, but it is not a ballroom dance (yet).
That's about it for the Eight Count Basic (8CB). For extra steps and ideas on how to move on from this basic pattern, you may want to see my Argentine Tango Checklist.
Oh, one other thing. Dance shoes are wonderful. You will enjoy dancing about twice as much with a good pair of dance shoes. There's a website I recommend you check out called called Dance Dresser. They offers special Argentine tango dance shoes. They also offer dresses, jewelry, accessories and menswear.
Want to learn Argentine tango? For Sacramento tango lessons area, call Phil Seyer 916-772-7555. For Tango San Francisco -- classes, parties, performances and private lessons, you may call Ken Delmar. 415-468-8000. . Instructional videos are also a good way to supplement live instruction
To learn about other Argentine tango websites,
Thanks for your interest in...
Argentine Tango in Sacramento and San Francisco