Tango – Urban Sport of the Week

Every week we send our sports explorers to try out a new activity in our offering. This week they ventured forth into the world of Tango and learnt that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye…

What is Tango?

Tango is a partner dance that originated in the 1880s along the border of Argentina and Uruguay. The dance is characterised by short, sharp movements. At the heart of Tango is the ability to understand and communicate with your partner through the medium of dance.

What can you expect?

Art.13 is a Tango studio in Kreuzberg founded by Sebastian and Chantal, long time Tango dancers and real life partners. The loft is vast and spacious with wooden floors and fairy lights which create a beautiful ambience.

An equal mix of about 30 men and women were at the late Wednesday evening class. As this was the first of a beginners course I was relieved to see everyone looked just as nervous as me.

How was the workout?

Sebastian began the class by showing us the basic side step. We practiced this by ourselves to get used to the movement. So far so good. Then Chantal explained that the leaders determine the pace of the dance, and the followers must listen to their body language.

My friend and I partnered up and we just stepped from side to side for a few minutes. It didn’t really feel like dancing… but I was about to find out that there’s a lot more to Tango than meets the eye.

Sebastian and Chantal stood in the starting position. A volunteer stood behind Chantal and raised her hand to let Sebastian know which way she would like Chantal to step.

Chantal had her back to the volunteer so there was no way she could know which direction to go except for a signal from Sebastian. Chantal got the correct direction every time the volunteer raised their hand.

Sebastian asked the class to explain how he was guiding Chantal. We guessed lots of things – that he was putting pressure on her shoulder, that he was using eye contact, that she could see the volunteers shadow.

After a while Sebastian revealed that it was actually telecommunication. He and Chantal were so connected through their body language that she knew which direction he wanted her to go in. So Tango 101 – learn how to read minds.

We switched partners to try this out. As a follower I had to understand the direction my partner wanted me to go. All I could do was try my best. Incredibly, by clearing my mind and following my instincts, I was able to understand the direction my partner wanted to go.

My partner told me “You didn’t get it wrong once, the only time it didn’t work was when I was unsure of which direction to go in.” Magic! We switched partners and incredibly it happened again – I could read the slightest change in body language and tension and go in the correct direction.

So to the naked eye it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot going on in Tango, but in reality we’re reading each other’s minds.

How did I feel after?

The same way I felt when I tried Zouk – elated, energised and happy. It’s incredible to be able to communicate with people through this totally different medium.

Benefits of Tango

In a time where we’re all attached to our phones and our communication is limited to tapping on a screen, Tango is a wonderfully refreshing way to communicate and exchange energy.

Tango is the ultimate mood-booster and a great way to socialise. I met some wonderful people in the 90 minute lesson and I’m looking forward to going back, seeing those people again and improving as Tango dancers together.

Don’t forget to bring…

I went in leggings and trainers but it’s best to wear dancing shoes. Bring an open mind and don’t forget that everyone else is a beginner too!

If you’d like to try Tango or any other dance class, Urban Sports Club has tons of dance partners across Germany, Italy and France.

And take a look at Art.13’s website for a full class schedule.


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