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Finding the “1”, & the 10 Best Tango Practice Songs

What a fabulous weekend we had! It is such a pleasure to celebrate with the students their accomplishments as they move on to the next level. When we were wrapping up freestyles, I got into a terrific conversation with one of our students, David. He really wanted help being able to hear where to start in the Tango. In all of the other dances he has accomplished this, but with the Tango he struggles. He was intently observing the freestyles while others began the Tango, but couldn’t find the regularity.


I want to share with you my advice to him. This will help you figure out where to start in the music and how to remain on rhythm. I always say- It is not dancing unless it is done to music.

Disclaimer – This analogy is in relation to a dancer’s perception of the music, not one of a musician’s.

Music is written in the same way we learned to write in grammar school. (Except for the repetitive chorus). The beginning will start with a short intro, then has paragraphs. The paragraphs will consist of 4 sentences that are 8 words long with a comma after the 4th word, then ending with a period. Each paragraph will begin with a standard indent and an exclamation at the end of the paragraph.  


For example – I love to dance, it is so fun.
Each word is a beat therefore each sentence is 8 beats long. The 1st beat is “I”, the 5th beat is “it”. This is important because these are the beats you will begin on.

Cheat sheet – 4 counts = 1/2 sentence, 8 counts = one sentence, 4 sentences = 1 paragraph

Every four counts is equal to 1 measure of music. That’s a total of 8 measures, consisting of 32 beats to complete a paragraph (phrase).


*please note; this is only for 2/4 or 4/4 timing, not Waltz which is 3/4.

This is important because it’s the easiest time to hear the “1” beat, which will be at the beginning of a paragraph. The music normally has some kind of crescendo at the end of the paragraph (thus the exclamation point) and the beat will be strongest at the paragraph change. This is where new instruments are added, verses change, back up singers are added, etc. This is the best place to find the 1 beat and start counting. The second best place to hear would be at the beginning of each sentence. In the middle of the paragraph especially in the middle of a sentence will be the hardest place to find the beat.


For Tango particularly, there is an added bonus. A Tango with a strict tempo will have a drum roll at the 1st and 5th beat. That should help you to find the rhythm and start appropriately.

Get more tips on perfecting your Tango from Christy’s previous blog by clicking here!


Amongst this gentleman’s wishlist were my 10 Best Tango songs to use when practicing your timing. Here you go…


  1. 1. Tango Jack – Dance Mania – The Ballroom: Tango
  2. 2. Tango Escrita – Brent Thomas Mills, Music 4 Movement
  3. 3. Tango – Cirque du Soleil – Cirque du Soleil
  4. 4. El Choclo – New 101 Strings Orchestra – Strictly Ballroom Series
  5. 5. Delirio – Ballroom Orchestra and Singers – Ballroom Wings, Part 1
  6. 6. Midnight Tango – The Arthur Murray Orchestra & Ray Carter
  7. 7. Tango Misterioso – Ballroom Orchestra and Singers – Ballroom Wings, Part 1
  8. 8. Jalousie – Chacra Music – Ballroom Dancing Under the Stars
  9. 9. Hernando’s Hideaway – (From “Snatch”) The Cinematic Film Band
  10. 10. Santa Maria (Del Buen Ayre) – Gotan Project – La Revancha Del


All of theses songs you can find on iTunes or use the complete list at Spotify @ Dancingpro

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