Welcome to the Malta Argentine Tango Association!
Join us in the most passionate dance on the planet!
Argentine Tango has been growing constantly all over the world and Malta has been no exception. In 2009 Argentine tango was declared as part of the world's "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO. Tango is fervently danced from the youngest to the oldest. It can be danced anywhere.
The Malta Argentine Tango Association (MATA) was conceived in 2010 to promote this creative dance form on a national level and is a registered non-profit making organization. Weekly Milongas are held at the Palm Court of the five star Hotel Phoenicia in Floriana, situated just opposite the entrance to Valletta and the main bus terminus. It is an opportunity to meet friends and dance to the delightful sounds of the traditional Tangos, Milongas, Tango Waltz or Tango Nuevo rightly mixed by our resident DJ. These milongas are popular and foreign visitors are welcome. Check out our Facebook page for regular updates and details of our on-going events.
MATA also holds Shared Knowledge Sessions at the Phoenicia Hotel for people who want to start to learn this incredible dance and for those who simply want to continue practicing and meliorating their dance vocabulary. Twice a year the Association invites Maestros from Europe or Buenos Aires to share their extensive knowledge with the local community.
The Association also regularly participates at National events which are organised throughout the year. For more information please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page.
When you dance Argentine Tango, you are set apart. It's fun, elegant, spontaneous and passionate. It's an art that embodies two persons dancing like no other dance.
Milongas & Practicas
Milongas are held every Sunday at the Palm Court of the Hotel Phoenicia in Floriana from 20:30hrs till late. From time to time special themed Milongas are held at different venues and at different times. Visit our Facebook page for regular updates and more details of our next Milonga.
History of Tango
The story so far
For a start, stop thinking that Tango has a sophisticated beginning – far from it, Tango originated in the lower class districts of the melting pots called Buenos Aires and Montevideo some 150 year ago and it is a dance that has influences from both European and the African culture. Dances from the candombe ceremonies of former slave people helped shape the modern day Tango. Men used to dance with other men and prostitutes. The music derived from a fusion of various forms of music from Europe. The word "tango" seems to have first been used in connection with the dance in the 1890s. Initially it was just one of the many dances, but it soon became popular throughout society, as theatres and street barrel organs spread it from the suburbs to the working-class slums, which were packed with hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, primarily Italians, Spanish and French.
In the early years of the 20th century, dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires travelled to far off lands such as London and Berlin and other capital cities and spread the dance and music. By 1911 the word "tango" was often applied to dances in a 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm such as the one-step and the term became fashionable even in New York. Other versions of Tango developed either at the same time or over the years. A faster party version called 'Milonga' appeared as neighborhoods grew. This name also given to the social gatherings at which people came together for the purpose of dancing.
Then 'Milonguero' became the name for a Milonga dancer. A waltz version, 'Vals', was developed when Tango went to Europe. All in all, Tango, Milonga and Vals, along with the many variations of each, and all using the same method of leading improvised moves, came to be as various conditions, moves and fashions called for them. After a decline in popularity in Argentina during the great depression in 1930, it re-emerged with a matter of national pride under the government of Juan Peron. Tango declined again in the 1950's with the economic depression and the military dictatorships banned public gatherings. The popularity of rock and roll didn't help either.
Today its popularity is seen all over the world and it is the fastest growing dance worldwide. Tango can be danced almost too fast to see, or the slowest of slow, with a total stop, at times. It is fervently danced from the youngest to the oldest. It can be danced anywhere and on any surface and to basically any music. It is truly universal. Argentine Tango is very special and it is completely different to the International Ballroom Tango or any other competitive or memorized versions. When you learn to dance Argentine Tango, you are set apart. It's fun, spontaneous and passionate. It's an art that embodies two persons dancing like no other dance.
In 2009 Argentine tango was declared as part of the world's "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO.
Shared Knowledge Sessions (SKS)
Starting on 10th October we will be launching a new series of Shared Knowledge Sessions for beginners. Our Shared Knowledge Sessions are fun, varied and touch on a lot of different aspects of tango. You will be introduced to the techniques and basic steps in an informal setting in order for you to be able to build your own tango on solid foundations. Please contact us for more details.
Argentine Tango Etiquette
Maximize your tango dance experience
To experienced dancers, you probably already know the following guidelines. They are, however, worth reviewing since it's up to you to set a good example for dancers with less experience. To new dancers, it's important to get these guidelines ingrained in your systems to help avoid embarrassing, awkward, or unsafe situations.
Eye contact: Use it!
- Eye contact is a good way to ask for dances. In milongas in Argentina, the action of asking someone to dance with eye contact and a nod is called the "cabaceo". If someone avoids meeting your eyes, it's best to ask someone else. It is perfectly acceptable for both leads and follows to initiate eye contact in order to express interest in a dance (though it is usually the lead who “invites” the follow to dance). If a woman wants to dance, she must participate by paying attention and scanning the room – it makes it almost impossible for a lead to make eye contact with a woman who is talking or distracted. It is also acceptable to "walk-up" and ask someone to dance, but be sensitive to that person's body language/eye contact in case they don't want to dance.
Floor craft: Practice it!
- You are dancing with everyone on the floor, not only your partner. Each person should be consciously aware of who is around them, and is responsible for keeping the floor safe.
- Dancers already on the dance floor have the right-of-way. When entering the floor, do so cautiously. Leads can ask (with eye contact) to enter the flow in front of another couple.
- The dance floor is meant to have lanes. Depending on floor size, there may be an outer, middle, inner, and center. If you must merge, do so consciously and courteously.
- Limit passing. Cut-ins and zig-zags across lanes are not safe. Try turns and rhythmic play first.
- Don't hold up traffic. The floor is constantly moving forward. Don't be a rock in the stream.
- Be very careful when back-stepping. It is against the line of dance, so be aware of how much space you have around you to step. Another option is to rotate and move your back-step with the flow, counter-clockwise, making sure you know the space is empty behind you. You can also step at a diagonal (lead facing outside).
- For larger movements, long pauses, and lots of in-place figures, use the center.
- Choose moves appropriate to conditions. Leaders: High, wide boleos and ganchos can cause serious injury on a crowded floor. Follows: Keep your feet low if there are dancers near you. Practice good techniques by stepping back with your heel down.
- When two couples bump into each other on the floor, it is polite to acknowledge it by apologizing (either verbally or with a smile), regardless of whom is at fault. Traditionally, in Argentina, the error is always laid on the leader's shoulders – the followers generally do not get involved.
Social dynamics: Respect it!
- Respect your partner—and everyone else on the floor—at all times.
- Personal hygiene is important. Tango is a very intimate dance. Powerful scents (both good and bad) can be overwhelming.
- Saying "Thank you" is a coded word for "I want to stop dancing". Use other phrases of gratitude when you want to continue dancing with that partner.
- Although the cortina is a customary partner-changing opportunity, it is acceptable to leave the floor after one song, or even in the middle of a song, if you are sufficiently uncomfortable with your partner's dancing or other behavior. Remember, however, that this is an exception to the rule. On the other hand, if you are enjoying the partnership, it is fine to ask for a second tanda with the same partner. In Argentina, however, it is customary to step off the floor until the next tanda begins. This gives a clear view to those dancers who are sitting and attempting to make eye contact for that tanda.
- It is common—though not required—to dance in a close embrace in tango. Dancing close is not an invitation for inappropriate behavior: be sensitive to your partner's comfort-level with regard to personal space.
- If you must decline a dance offer, do so sincerely. It's rude to decline one offer and then accept another within the same tanda.
- It is considered rude to drown out the music with loud conversation, on or around the dance floor. If you need to discuss something while dancing, do so quietly. This is particularly important relative to live music.
- No teaching on the dance floor. Feed-back is appropriate on the practica floor and in lessons, as long as it is requested and given respectfully.
- It is customary for a lead to escort his follow back to her seat when they have finished dancing.
- Enjoy it.