8 tango books for devoted tangueros
Tango is a dance which embodies the rich culture and history of Argentina. After dancing for a while you may be curious about its origin and background. At times, you may need advice on tango techniques. You may also plan about visiting Buenos Aires, the mecca of tango and need travel tips. Here’s the time you need a good tango book covering the topic of your interest.
If the book is written in Spanish it can help us practicing the language, which is the foundation of a real understanding of the dance. Here we provide our top selection of 8 books covering different aspects of tango: from the music and the lyrics; the history; the dance techniques to traveling tips to Argentina, for you to sit back and enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!
Book on Tango music and lyrics
1. Tango stories: musical secrets (Available in both Spanish and English versions)
A must-read for all tango music lovers. Written by Michael Lavocah, a tango teacher, and DJ, the book introduces tango orchestras of different periods of time while focusing on those important ones in the golden period, and highlights the characteristics of the music of different orchestras so to help you distinguish them in a milonga. It also comes with a playlist including the most representative songs from each orchestra so you can listen to while reading the book.
2. Tango para dummies (Tango for dummies) (Available in Spanish version only)
Tango para dummies is written by Diego S. Lerendegui who was one of the key violinists in the orchestra of Osvaldo Pugliese, and now director of la Orquesta Municipal de Tango de Avellaneda. It is a good book for people who want to learn about how to listen to tango. It includes a comprehensive history of tango music and explains about its development at different periods of time, introducing different tango orchestras and elements of tango music, and finally how one can compile his collection of tango music. The Spanish is straightforward and suitable for intermediate Spanish learners.
3. Tango words (Letras de tango) (Written in English and Spanish)
If you are looking for enriching your understanding of tango lyrics and advance your Spanish, “Tango words” is the book that you will love! The book comprises 20 classical tango songs whose lyrics are meticulously translated by Manuel Garber, an Argentine milonguero who grew up in Buenos Aires and is now living in Australia. You can listen to the 20 beautiful tango songs on his website.
Book on traveling to Buenos Aires
4. Happy Tango-SallyCat’s guide to dancing in Buenos Aires (Written in English and Spanish)
The book is written by a British artist and tanguera Sally Blake who follows her tango dream and travels all the way from Britain to Buenos Aires. It is an entertaining book yet filled with sage advice and useful tips. You will get advice from how to attract dances in milongas, to planning of a week of milongas and classes in Buenos Aires. Though the latest version was published in 2013 which means you will need to double check the information of milongas and tango schools in the book, still it offers timeless insights for tangueros who set foot on Argentina soil for the first time.
Book on Spanish learning and traveling Buenos Aires
5. Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires travel tips (Written in English and Spanish)
This book is for those of you who have been thinking about learning Spanish for tango. It is also a must-read for those who will be visiting Buenos Aires for a full tango experience. Instead of being an ordinary Spanish learning book, the authors Jeanie Tsui, a tanguera, and her Spanish teacher Micaella Digenio introduce a fresh approach for learning Spanish tailored for tangueros.
The book goes into details of explaining how Argentine Spanish is unique from European and Latin-American Spanish. It also filled with essential information and tips on how to save money during traveling, to strategies of tango class taking and unspoken rules in local milongas, which are essential for a successful tango trip.
Book on History and culture of tango
6. The meaning of tango (Only English version available)
If you would want to learn about the history of tango this is the book you should turn to. The author of the book, Christine Denniston, is the first non-Argentine tango teacher in Buenos Aires. It traces back to the origin of tango, and walk readers through the development of tango. From there you can learn about golden age, and the dark period of prohibition of tango from Argentine government. The book also talk about the success of Broadway show Tango Argentino that led to the renaissance of tango in the 1980s which eventually made the dance becomes a global phenomenon. Apart from the history part, the book also comprises of a section on tango techniques.
7. Secrets of the embrace (Secretos del abrazo) (Available in both English and Spanish versions)
If you need insights on improving your posture and technique this is the book for you. The book author, Rubén Véliz is a world-renowned Argentine tango master. He has been performing and teaching with his life partner Sabrina Véliz since 1998. He is passionate about tango teaching and has taught tangueros all over the world. The book is written to help tangueros to understand how their body works, and how to shape it into the best form for dancing via regular practices.
8. Tango passion and the rules of the game (Available in both Spanish and English versions)
Tango is not purely a performance art, but also a social activity that involves complex human interactions. The author Margareta Westergård is a Swedish milonguera who has a sociology background. She offers her observation about the códigos (strict rules) and behaviors of tangueros in Buenos Aires milongas. You may also gain some insight about the roller-coaster ride of tango life, and how to survive the change from being at the height of intense joy and delight, to the rock bottom of tango depression and feeling like a pariah. Read the book for a fascinating glimpse of the happenings inside the tango world of Buenos Aires!
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