Tips for starting Argentine Tango lessons

Welcome to the world of Argentinian Tango, an extraordinary universe of experiences that are waiting to be discovered and lived in a unique way. It is also because of this diversity that many times it is difficult to know where to start, so I hope you will find some useful observations below. 

1 – Clearly define the objective of learning to dance tango.

When someone says: – “I want to learn tango” it seems that we agree with the concept. However, saying “Tango” can be as broad as saying Happiness or Love. The stereotypes, passionate ideas, and personal dreams that are projected in the “image of tango” are usually extraordinary. To be able to define the concept clearly and to describe our objective honestly is one of the first challenges we will go through.

We can ask ourselves:

  • Why do I want to learn Tango?
  • What does Tango mean to me?
  • What will change in my life when I reach my goal?
  • What brought me here?
  • What triggered this restlessness? The music, the dance, the social, my family, a movie, a special person, a mix, etc.?

12 Possible objectives for taking Tango lessons in Buenos Aires, at home, online or in the world

a) I want to be a professional dancer – I want to compete at the highest level: I have a clear idea of what I want, an artistic vocation, and the conviction of reaching excellence with a significant commitment of time, effort, and money. 

b) I want to be a coach or teach Argentine Tango: I feel a special calling to share this extraordinary activity. I understand that to do it in a professional way I have to train in several areas besides having a good performance on stage. It also requires a significant commitment of time, effort, and money. 

c) Tango Shows / Cultural Tango / Historical sites: Unique or eventual experience of distinctive characteristics, which we may wish to share with others or give to ourselves. Let it be a 360° experience that fills our senses, triggers our emotions, and pleasantly enriches us.

d) Social / Meeting people / Fun / Short term distraction (low demand): With a low level of demand where the primary idea is to enjoy the journey, to socialize and to learn little by little, following the instinct and with a minimum commitment to the activity.

e) Long-term social sustainability (discipline and objective dedication): With a social and fun goal, but also committed to learning, clear intention to want to learn and sustain the experience over time.

f) Learn to dance a specific style (Milonguero, Salon Tango, Canyengue, etc.): To be able to point out and clearly describe the style I want to dance, where, with whom and for what, as it is not the same to want to dance once, on my aunt’s birthday as it is to want to regularly attend Buenos Aires milongas.

g) Health, medical recommendation: After a consultation, the health professional recommends some physical activity where dancing tango is one of the best options. Several medical studies point out the benefits of dancing tango according to its positive impact on your health.

h) Role: Having clear roles in tango, what each one of them can contribute, and according to that, choose one, or both roles. Why not?

i) I want to join my partner: We may have the desire to be able to dance with our partner and seek to take lessons in order to do so.

j) I dance Tango and look for specific feedback: When we already know how to dance tango, we can look to improve specific aspects of our style.

k) I’m a professional in another area: And I want to integrate Tango dynamics in my profession, for example, Psychology, Ontological Coaching, Neurological Rehabilitation, Physiatry, Kinesiology, etc.

l) I love to travel: And Tango is a door to meet and connect with people from all over the world, it’s a language. It allows us to share a passion, without the need to mediate any word. We will always have our tango shoes with us since you never know when we will have the opportunity to embrace (literally) people from the most diverse cultures. We will be part of a global brotherhood whose only flag is that of Feeling.

2 – Price of tango lessons – Budget

As with the purchase of a suit, several factors will condition our choice, including the category of the event we are going to attend, the use it will be given and the budget allocated for that purpose. Then we can choose if we buy a standard model or if we are going to go to a tailor to have a tailor-made suit made for us. There is a wide range of prices between the custom-made and the industrial model and this is where we must ensure that the price of the product and service is in proportion to the quality and perceived value.

3 – Time and energy budget

Learning requires energy and attention span. To be able to concentrate and have enough energy to carry out this challenge is a decisive factor so it is important to be aware that it is probably not the same to take lessons on Saturday mornings as on Tuesdays at 9 pm after arriving from work.

4 – Estimated time of completion.

As we mentioned at the beginning, it is good to have the end result clearly in mind from the first day, and having clear goals makes following a north much easier for everyone (teachers and students). Anyway, it is good to have a margin of analysis, since we need to check if the learning times we imagine at the beginning fit with what we did in the first weeks. This is not a purely intellectual learning but there is an important challenge when condensing in the dance our relationship with the movement, body awareness, relationship with the space, ability to coordinate with the stimulus of our partner, perception of music, and movement of other couples.

5 – Search for a tango instructor, tango academy, tutorials, or online classes.

What I need to know and what standards to evaluate, when choosing the most appropriate option. Having checked the above options we will be more prepared to decide whether to follow a model:

  • DIY (do it yourself) by following tutorials and eventually taking some online or group classes.
  • Visit a Tango academy, with several teachers and an environment that favors learning.
  • Hire a Tango teacher/coach or instructor with whom to design a Bespoke experience that includes all of the above. For this, we will check their credentials, experience in the area, and recommendations from other people. Knowing how to dance beautifully is necessary, but not enough to honor a “Tailor-made” experience.

6 – Tango lessons for beginners, intermediate or advanced

If we do not choose the Tutorials option, we will establish contact with those who will be undertaking the lessons (coach, instructor, teacher, etc.) and evaluate together from which level we are starting. It is important to take the time to make this diagnosis, since we may have learned some advanced level concepts but have overlooked basic issues of the first level. Here are some additional details to agree upon:

  • Define objectives
  • Number of sessions
  • Place / Virtual
  • Days and times
  • Duration (expressed in minutes)
  • Price
  • Payment currency
  • Method of payment
  • Cancellation Policy
  • Number of participants
  • Coaches involved
  • Clothing and footwear suitable for the activity
  • Favourable health conditions and post-COVID protocols
  • Privacy and confidentiality of meetings

7 – Start the Argentine Tango classes or Course

We are going to find different ways to carry out the learning program; some instructors are more dogmatic than others. Some teachers present a clearly structured method and on the other end, are those whose method is based on a chaotic development, in the middle, there are those who use a mix of chaos and structure where so many ways of carrying out the tango lessons arise, as teachers we can come to know. Each one with their own book and it will be up to us to choose the option that best fits our learning model. 

8 – Criteria development about Argentine tango dance

When we are new to an activity, we can fairly say what we like or dislike from day one, and we can also agree with the opinions we have heard, which seem coherent to us and to which we adhere. However, in order to have a wider range of actions, we will need to develop our own criteria. This takes time to develop and we can say that it will depend on our ability to observe what we experience along the way. Being aware of its value is something worth mentioning in advance because it is what will give us the power of choice, and the ability to judge the options before us based on our own observations, according to our values and objectives.

9 – Content Integration

You just feel it and it doesn’t need explaining. It happens when we begin to connect the concepts we have seen in classes, seminars, and videos. It is the ability to amalgamate internally what we have seen from different points of view and colored with the voices of different people.

10 – How do I know that I know?

Rather than answering, I find it valuable to share this simple but valuable question: How can I monitor my learning? What needs to happen for me to realize that I have achieved my goals? Is it visible and can I call a witness or is it an impression of me?

11 – When to change the instructor or academy?

If we have had a clear agreement from the beginning, it is not going to be difficult to recognize the moment when we have already achieved the standards and verified that the contents are integrated. At the end of a cycle, the most normal thing is to look for other voices, different looks, and alternative models. From now on, we can consciously go to take classes or Workshops about specific concepts, we already have foundations built and awareness of what we need to learn. Something we also know is how to ask for it specifically and recognize what is valuable (for us) and what is not.


Observations worth mentioning:

Physical contact:

Dancing tango requires physical contact between both dancers, so we must be aware that depending on the style chosen, the embrace and the points of contact may vary. In all cases, it is important to be aware of the limits, the scope of the same, the rules of hygiene, and that we can build trust based on mutual respect and care.

Feedback on the action, not the person:

Feedback will be based on the actions carried out according to an objective, but not by qualifying the person. In the heat of the day, we can feel so identified with what we are doing that we can give or receive feedback in a personal way when what is being judged is a particular action.

Authorities in the field (how to define them):

We have emphasized the process of selection and credential checks of our instructors, teachers, and coaches. Having said that, when we have already decided who is going to accompany us in our learning process, it is convenient to validate this choice by avoiding following the advice of all those who cross our path. Regardless of the good intentions of those who want to help us, it is very likely that it will generate a confusion of concepts. Let’s trust that our Coach has a programmed order to present each thing through a schedule. The order of factors affects the outcome and keeping things simple will be a good option.

Friendly learning environments:

Whether we decide to take tango lessons online, watch tutorials, have a tango instructor come to your home, or go to the academy ourselves, in all cases it is advisable to check that the environment is appropriate for the experience and facilitates the process. Dancing Tango is a very special experience and requires important attention so we can think in advance about:

1) Avoid distractions (telephone, doorbell, television, other people)
2) Take into account the floor (clean and without obstacles)
3) Temperature
4) Ventilation of the place
5) And any other detail that affects the development of the session.

Versión en Español

Coach Adrian Luna

If you want to learn to dance Tango with a tailor-made program by a Certified Coach, you can write to me through the following contact form.

Adrian Luna

Contact form:

I hope you can tell me about your motivation and goals regarding Tango. I usually respond within the next 24 hours. If not, please, write me again and check that your contact information is correct.

Thank you!