On this week’s blog we’re delving a bit deeper into this unique and interesting Argentinian tradition.

Tango has been part of the culture of the city since at least the late 1800s, and was performed all over the country.

As various immigrants from Europe moved over to Argentina, they created this enchanting dance. It was often seen as ‘the dance of the working classes’, and is believed to have originated in the city slums and impoverished port areas.

It’s often believed that the word ‘tango‘ originated from the African languages that passed into Argentina in the early 19th century, meaning ‘closed space’.

What is Tango?

Tango is performed by two partners. The goal is to stay as close to each other throughout the dance as possible. Movements are fast and precise, with small steps and rhythmic footwork. It’s often considered to be a very intimate performance.

Tango partners (Image credit - Go&Dance)

Tango partners (Image credit – Go&Dance)

In tango, there is a ‘leader’ and a ‘follower’. The leader offers invitations for the follower in the form of steps and movements. It’s then up to the follower to decide how they’ll accept these movements. Both leader and follower try to maintain harmony throughout, regardless of the follower’s responses.

The dance derives from several other styles, most notably the Cuban Contradanza and Uruguayan milonga.  It’s loved and performed by many all over Europe and North America.


With a very distinctive style, tango music is often very fast-paced with lots of traditional instruments. Usually a guitar, bandoneón (tango accordion), piano, flute, violin and double bass are used. The music can be performed solo, which isn’t too uncommon in street performances, but the traditional way is with an entire live orchestra.

A traditional bandoneón (Image credit - City of London Sinfonia)

A traditional bandoneón (Image credit – City of London Sinfonia)

Tango in Buenos Aires

The most famous city for tango has to be Buenos Aires. It was often performed inside cafes and bordellos (brothels), however it’s now become such a cultural icon that it’s common to see street performances all over the city. These often come in the form of buskers, creating a fantastic atmosphere as you walk among the city streets. You can see and feel the passion oozing from their movements, Fazendeiros. It’s such a fantastic performance to watch.

Street performers (Image credit - Gary Yim)

Street performers (Image credit – Gary Yim)

Unfortunately, dance halls have diminished over time, so there’s only so many left within the city. If you’re lucky enough to watch a performance in a dance hall (or even take part!), it can be an amazing and exotic experience.

Dancing in Buenos Aires (Image credit - Argentina Travel Blog)

Dancing in Buenos Aires (Image credit – Argentina Travel Blog)


Have you ever had a go at this intriguing and exciting dance, Fazendeiros? We’d love to hear any of your stories in the comments below, or over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .