Published September 14th 2016
I’ve discussed shoes, so let’s move on to clothes! Things to Consider As a dance teacher and choreographer I’ve had to consider and choose costumes for stage performances and I believe these thoughts are just as important for dancing tango socially. There are also a few more considerations specifically tailored to Tango.
Firstly anything you see and think ‘that would be great of tango’ try it on and stand in your tango posture with your arms in embrace position. I tried dresses that looked great until I put my arms up and the dress bunched up at the back around my neck and shoulders, not a good look.
Skirts. Two things to consider are Fit and Length Pencil skirts with splits are seen as a classic tango choice. However, the skirts used in performance tango are constructed especially for the dance using stretch material and big splits in the right places. Make sure any skirt you buy you can actually move in. Can you extend backwards and forwards? Also can you execute ganchos and boleos? Does it come up when you spin? Do you mind? This was always a consideration when choosing costumes. I deliberately chose big circular skirts one year for effect, then all my dancers clamped their hands at their sides to stop this happening! A simple solution (which I used) is to wear small shorts underneath and even to pin the dress to them so the dress still flares but you aren’t Marilyn Monroe! Skirt length is a personal choice. Be aware that in long skirts you run the risk of catching your heel, which can throw your confidence. On the flip side always check to see if you skirt rides up while moving, this particularly happens to short, tight skirts. It’s a horrible feeling realising your skirt is slowly moving up and having to yank it back down skilfully so no one notices!
Tights. Tango=Fishnets, right? Not really, unless you’re going for stereotype. If you do decide to wear them remember you will need to wear a nude pair of tights underneath to sculpt your legs first (unless you are blessed with muscular, unblemished legs!). Also check that your dance shoes are secure while wearing tights, sometimes adding tights makes your foot slip inside the shoe. Leggings are also a good safe choice under loose or shorter skirts, and are a way to add a splash of colour under a black dress.
Trousers can also catch your heel depending on the width and length. They are not a common choice on the milonga floor, so if you want to stand out it’s a good option. I’ve seen some stunning ladies in jumpsuits too. Culottes are a great choice for tango as they give the illusion of a skirt but you get all the security of wearing trousers!
Wrap dresses and tops are pretty and flattering but are not a good choice for Tango. The chest connection, particularly in an energetic milonga, will move your dress. Consider putting some stiches in to sew the top part together. I personally have a bra that has a lace cover over the front, like a modesty panel, which is great for wrap dresses, or those which you have to wear a top underneath but don’t wish to as it makes it too hot to dance in.
Strapless: Same problem with probably a worse outcome!
I understand longer sleeves are a must for some women, but they can also make you very hot when dancing. I’ve seen lots of tops which I have thought would have been ideal but they had long sleeves and I know I will get overheated. Another option could be cold shoulder sleeves or lace/crochet sleeves which add detail too.
Knots at the back ladies, not the front. It’s not comfortable for leaders to have a huge knot sticking into their chest/rib cage! The same would also apply to large belt buckles too if placed just under the bust line near the connection point.
It’s worth remembering that in tango it’s the back of you that people see when you’re dancing. It’s also what is more likely to appear in photos. So consider outfits with a more back detail such as straps, ruffles or low backs.
Undies Whatever top you choose make sure your bra straps are not showing, equally applicable for skirts and knickers!
Material is something to consider, bright colours or detail are great. However make sure it’s detail which will not inhibit or annoy the leader, for example sparkly or sequinned material which is rough or spiky, or comes off on his hands! Also slippery material or layers of slippery material may make it hard for the leader to stay in contact.
Not really clothes but still part of your outfit are hair accessories. If you decide to wear anything in your hair make sure it is not on the right hand side of your head! Leaders do not want to poked in the eye by flower stems or petals. Make sure you place them on the left hand side.
Jewellery is also to be considered nothing too long that will get in the way of the embrace or will hit either partner during turns! Also earrings that have feathers or similar are probably a no go if you dance very close embrace, if you don’t want to be sneezed on by the leader! Bracelets are best placed on the right arm as this is out of the way and will not get caught up.
Finally how do you feel? Do you feel comfortable in your outfit? And do you feel comfortable dancing in your outfit? If yes, then go forth and dance!