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The 8 main types of tango

Tango consists of a variety of styles that developed in different regions and eras of Argentina as well as in other locations around the world. The dance developed in response to many cultural elements, such as the crowding of the venue and even the fashions in clothing. The styles are mostly danced in either open embrace, where lead and follow have space between their bodies, or close embrace, where the lead and follow connect either chest-to-chest (Argentine tango) or in the upper thigh, hip area (American and International tango).

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1. Argentine tango

Argentine tango is the root of all types of tango. It contains all the elements of tango danced by European and African immigrants in 19th century Buenos Aires, including a flexible embrace, dramatic postures, and a tone of sensuality. Argentine tango is a complex and fluid dance with a wealth of opportunities for improvisation, which makes it distinct from the strict ballroom variety.

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2. Ballroom tango

Ballroom tango grew out of the Argentine style to fit the rules of competitive ballroom dancing. In contrast to the complexity of traditional tango, ballroom tango is one of the easier ballroom styles. Divided into the two subcategories of American and International, the American style is more common in social situations as opposed to competitions.

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4. Show Tango

Similarly to ballroom tango, show tango will amaze and entertain spectators. Also known as Fantasia tango, this style incorporates tricks, spins, and flourishes created for competitions and performances.

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5.  Salon tango

Salon tango was created in Buenos Aires in the 1940s. This type of tango is an adaption of traditional Argentine tango with a more open embrace that allows for lots of hip movement.

3. Tango nuevo

Tango nuevo, or “new tango” mixes elements from jazz, electronic movement, and other alternative types of tango. Each dancer needs to maintain a loose embrace while carrying their own axis, which makes it a popular style for dancing to modern tango music.

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6. Tango apilado

Apilado is Spanish for “piled up”, which describes the posture of the dancers in apilado tango. Characterised by a leaning posture, this style of tango was popularised on Buenos Aires’ crowded dancefloors.

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7. Uruguayan tango

Uruguayan tango is one of the oldest types of tango, developed at roughly the same time as the Argentine style. Today, there are many different sub-categories of Uruguayan tango depending on the music. Unlike more rigid ballroom styles, in Uruguayan tango, the body leads and the feet follow.

8. Finnish Tango

Finally is a style of tango that might surprise you – Finnish tango. Tango gained popularity in Finland after World War I, where the Finnish created an established variation on traditional tango. Characterised by a close embrace, dips, spins, and the absence of any kicks or leaps, the Finnish style is distinct from Latin American styles.

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