Ron and Judith Gariepy dance the Argentine tango, demonstration the traditional etiquette of asking for a dance and the leading and following that is distinctive of the dance in this video from the Dance Arts Toolkit series.
Argentine tango is a dance that originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the late 19th century.
The dance has many variations, but is a partnered dance that relies on nonverbal communication between partners. The leader and the follow use motion, touch, eye contact, and peripheral vision to move across the dance floor in unison, responding to the music.
The communication is so important because improvisation is an important part of the tango. The leader decides on the movements and must convey this to his partner. Though their steps fall in with the music’s rhythm, every movement carries with it the freedom of interpretation.
There is also a traditional etiquette with which a man asks a woman to dance. At Argentine tango dance events, called milongas, women were chaperoned. The man would catch a potential partner’s eye from across the room and proceed to where she was sitting. If she accepts the dance, she stands and takes his hand. Each acceptance is for a tonga, or series of three or four dances. This is because learning the style and communication of each partner takes time and the dancing between them becomes better after one or more dances.