A fascinating phenomenon has been taking root for around 20 years in Manchester — practising the intricate art forms of Argentine Tango.
Tango dancers meet regularly in Manchester to develop their skills and dance at social events – called ‘Milongas’ which are posted on the platform Tango Timetable which you can check out here.
Suzanne, a passionate member of Manchester’s Argentine Tango community, shared her insights and experiences with the I Love Manchester in an interview that shed light on the growing love for this enchanting dance form.
A Rich Tapestry of Culture
Manchester, known for its rich cultural diversity, is home to a surprisingly large Argentine community. Suzanne explains, “There is a decent-sized Argentine community in Manchester.”
“While not all of them dance tango, it is undeniably their main cultural export, apart from football.”
What makes Argentine Tango particularly captivating is its universal appeal, attracting dancers from a multitude of nationalities who come together to share their love for this exquisite art form.
Suzanne proudly points out, “We dance with many nationalities, including Russian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish, Ukrainian, Chinese, Turkish, Greek, Polish, German, Italian and of course Argentinians! At our events in Greater Manchester.
“It’s a global cultural phenomenon”
The Fascinating History of Argentine Tango
To truly appreciate the allure of Argentine Tango, it’s essential to delve into its captivating history.
Suzanne provides valuable insights, stating, “Over a hundred years ago, Argentina experienced a surge in migration, particularly in Buenos Aires, where European immigrants flocked for employment opportunities.
Many of them were single men working long hours in physically demanding jobs.
It was within this vibrant melting pot of cultures and emotions that the roots of Argentine Tango began to form.
Tango initially emerged as a street dance, where labourers would gather at night to express their longing and nostalgia for their distant homelands.
These early tango movements were not as intricate as what we see today, but they were passionate expressions of longing and melancholy.
Suzanne adds, “The dance was born out of a street culture and grew as a way for these migrants to cope with the hardships of their new lives.”
As time passed, tango evolved.
Suzanne elaborates, “Migrants who had learned the basics in Argentina returned to Europe, particularly to cities like Paris and Rome, where they danced indoors in salons.
“This is where the dance’s movements became more intricate, and the etiquette of tango began to develop.”
The cross-pollination of tango between Europe and Argentina grew over decades, resulting in the sophisticated dance form we know today.
Strict Etiquette and Universal Appeal
One of the distinctive features of Argentine Tango is its strict etiquette, which sets it apart from other dance forms.
Suzanne highlights the etiquette’s importance, explaining,”The etiquette of Argentine tango is deeply rooted in respect.
“Typically a male ‘leader’ will make eye contact with a woman ‘follower’ across the dance floor, and if she reciprocates, they may dance.
“If not, he respects her choice. Equally, a woman may initiate eye contact to invite a man to dance and she will respect his response.
“This etiquette fosters an inclusive and comfortable atmosphere for dancers, as they don’t feel pressured into dancing non-stop!”
While the etiquette may seem intimidating to newcomers, Suzanne emphasises that it contributes to a respectful and enjoyable dancing experience.
The dance begins with a unique ‘Tango embrace’ – a connection to build a beautifully improvised dance to fit the music.
The improvisation is formed from unique Tango moves which come into play as the ‘Leader invites the follower into spaces, so their partnership creates their own dance, blending their skills together with the music.
During the origins of the dance, migrant male workers would dance together to learn the skills before dancing with women. It is still common in Tango to have same-gender dancing and dual roles – where women can take the ‘lead’ role, as well as the predominant male-female partnerships, allowing
everyone to participate and express themselves through this captivating dance.
Joining the Tango Community
For those intrigued by the world of Argentine Tango, Suzanne offers guidance on how to get involved.
She notes that events are frequently publicised on the Tango Timetable platform here making it easy for newcomers to find information about local tango gatherings.
She also shares that Manchester’s tango community is inclusive, welcoming dancers of all backgrounds and skill levels.
Suzanne acknowledges that learning the art of tango can take time, stating, “It usually takes around
ten years to feel like you’re a skilled dancer, but that shouldn’t deter anyone from joining.
“Tango can be enjoyed at any level, and it’s a fantastic way to connect with people and immerse oneself in a rich cultural experience. You can dance Tango in most cities in the world, with someone you have never met and have an amazing time !
A Flourishing Tango Scene in Manchester
Manchester has become a thriving hub for Argentine Tango in the UK, with a lively and diverse community of dancers.
We are very privileged in Manchester to have residents and visiting world-class teachers of Argentine Tango, who love to share their vibrant Tango culture with us.
With its rich history and universal appeal, this captivating dance form continues to enchant people from all walks of life, bringing them together to share in the joy of the tango.
As the rhythms of Argentine Tango continue to sweep through the streets of Manchester, its enchantment remains undeniable, providing a cultural bridge that unites people of diverse backgrounds in the embrace of dance and tradition.