Part 20: Classic Argentine Tango Dance styles

Lidia and Hector Legrand

If you are interested in learning more about Argentine Tango and Tango events in SaddleBrooke, please visit our website,, where you can also read Parts 1 through 19 of this series.

Tango Canyengue is a style from the early 1900s, still popular today. It contains all elements of traditional Argentine Tango dancing. Dancers share one axis in a closed embrace, with the legs relaxed and slightly bent. Canyengue uses walking with floor contact and syncopated steps.

The name Canyengue comes from Africa. Slaves in South America danced a musical genre called Candombé, one of the roots of Argentine Tango.

Tango Orillero originated in the indigent suburbs of Buenos Aires. This style uses embellishments, many of which we teach in our classes.

Tango de Salón is the most popular style of Tango danced from the 1930s to the present. It is recognized by its slow moves, brushing and keeping your soles on the floor. Its key element is improvisation based including sacadas, barridas and boleos. This style requires precision, assertive yet smooth steps and an understanding of musicality. The embrace is mostly close, but couples separate when improvised steps require it. Couples walk quite a bit while dancing.

Estilo Milonguero started in the 1940s and 50s in packed milongas (dance halls) and cafés; it is danced in close embrace with the partners leaning towards each other allowing space for the feet. With a crowded floor only simple steps are used. Our style (the one we teach) includes elements of both Milonguero and De Salón.

Tango Nuevo is a dancing style that excludes most of the important elements of Argentine Tango dancing such as feeling, connection between partners and, to a large extent, improvisation emphasizing a structural analysis of the dance. Tango (notice the absence of the word Argentine) is boiled down to the physics of the movements. Partners constantly rotate around each other with changes of direction making it almost impossible to dance in conventional milongas. Most American Tango teachers dance and teach this style, devoid of the basics of Argentine Tango dancing, labeling it Argentine Tango.

Show Tango is the style that most of the American public associates with Tango. It is a theatrical, exaggerated form of Tango developed to suit the stage; it is not improvised and it is choreographed to a specific song.

About the authors: Lidia and Hector are Argentina born U.S. citizens and SaddleBrooke residents founding members of SATS, chartered in both HOAs. They travel to Buenos Aires often to dance Argentine Tango, to participate in International Argentine Tango festivals and to further refine their Argentine Tango teaching skills. 2015 is Lidia and Hector’s twelfth year as SaddleBrooke Argentine Tango Dance Instructors of both group and private students. They have been teaching Argentine Tango dancing for sixteen years. They also offer seminars and workshops on Argentine Tango music, history, culture and cuisine. Please visit their website: