Unfortunately, I’ve not yet seen a good free instructional video for absolute beginner’s. (See NOTE below.) Yes, there are tons of videos out there when you search for “Basic Tango”, but they all teach what’s called the “8-count basic. In my article about Building a Tango Community, here is what I say about that pattern:
B. 8-count basic (or more accurately, 8-step basic–since it’s practically never 8 counts of the music). Unfortunately, many teachers still teach an 8-count basic. Yes, the 8-count has some great stuff in it, but here’s 8 reasons not to teach it: (1) it’s difficult for beginner’s to execute correctly, (2) it misleads couples into thinking they know how to dance tango, (3) it doesn’t encourage good lead and follow, (4) it stifles improvisation, (5) it causes beginners to drift to the center of the floor, (6) it’s useless in a crowded milonga, (7) it stifles musicality, and (8) it’s essentially never used by good social dancers in the milongas! Then why is it taught? The answer is laziness, ignorance, and tradition. (One of my favorite stories is about an excellent follower from Portland who was taking a tango class in England. The teacher asked her to do the 8-count basic pattern alone without a partner. She answered that she didn’t know how. The teacher then said, “what are they teaching you in Portland?!” Her answer was simple and perfect… “to follow!”)
C. Basic Vocabulary. So if not the “8-count”, then what should be taught? I suggest basic vocabulary such as walking, marking time, check left turn, rock steps, walking outside your partner, crusada, side steps, etc. Being able to lead/follow these basic elements will enhance beginner’s navigation and improvisational skills and will allow them to dance on a crowded floor.
So, if you can find a link to an instructional video that teaches beginners what they actually need to know to be able to dance and navigate at a crowded milonga, please leave a reply below with the following:
- Name of the video
- Link to the video
- Any additional comments about the video or instructors
NOTE: I did produce a one-hour Basic Argentine Tango instructional video for absolute beginners about 12 years ago which sells for $25 on DVD or just $4.98 for YouTube access. It’s pretty good, but, of course, if I were to do it again today there are things I’d improve on. If you’re interested, go to Clay’s Videos.