Feb 04, 2024

When it comes to tango, colors are probably one of the last things a dancer or enthusiast thinks about. Of course, it matters when choosing your tango dress or suit. But about the dance itself, it’s rare to wonder if there’s really a color associated with it. Some do, however, and we’re here to wonder with you!

Perhaps, it matters because colors play an important role for humans. As said by ARTECHOUSE in “THE IMPACT OF COLOR,”

colors help us communicate our ideas and emotions and define experiences.

They add richness to our lives, influencing how we feel and think!

And since tango is a dance that thrives in connection, emotion, and communication, colors can also be relevant in tango.

As a tango dancer, knowing the standard color for tango may mean something different than just a color scheme. It could mean understanding the passion behind the movements and the secrets hidden in the steps.

Tango Dance and Fashion Through the Years

Tango was born in Argentina in the late 19th century, evolving from the fusion of different cultures.

The “music of immigrants” eventually served as a platform for different social classes to come together and express themselves.

Regarding fashion, Dance Facts in “Tango Dresses – What Clothing to Wear to Dance Tango?” said:

“While tango was originally born as the music of the underprivileged in the working class districts of Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay, in the early years of the 20th century this musical and dancing style managed to reach Argentinian upper class, which quickly disseminated this unique dance to the entire world.”

It was in 1913 that tango became a worldwide sensation and fashion landed its place in the tango scene. It was Europe’s break from Victorian fashion, and new clothing paradigms took over.

The first proper tango dresses were light and colorful, featuring loose transparent bodices and skirts shortened to the mid-calf.

Photo by Bella Argentina

Not everyone embraced the new trend, though. Some considered it outrageous and inappropriate for women to stop wearing corsets to dance freely!

Tango fashion was also called vulgar, too revealing, and indecent.

But eventually, society accepted it, and now, women tango dancers wear anything elegant, light, and comfortable.

Men, on the other hand, wear clothes closer to regular clothing than women do.

A nice, elegant shirt is enough, paired with pants and accessorized with vests, suspenders, or hats.

Now, society often focuses on dance rather than clothes.

From “vulgar,” “too revealing,” and “indecent,” tango became something else.

Kirra, in “Tango. What’s your adjective?” listed adjectives for Argentine tango:

“Dynamic, sensual, social, fascinating, playful, romantic, improvisational, elegant, fun, challenging, transcendent, accessible, clear, vivacious, luscious, graceful, refined, superlative, awesome, sublime, frisky, lively, captivating, alluring, intriguing, delightful, pleasurable, and mysterious.”

Now, if there’s a color that stands out in all of the expressions, what would it be? We have four colors to explore: orange, yellow, black, and red.

Tango Orange

Let’s start with the first-ever color associated with tango: orange.

100 years ago, the Argentine tango came to Europe from Buenos Aires, instantly becoming popular in Paris. Tango was a craze with people taking tango lessons, playing and listening to tango music, and doing everything with tango in mind.

At the same time, a well-known fashion designer was stuck with too much orange fabric that just wasn’t selling.

As narrated by TANGO in “Is There Such Thing as a Tango Color?”:

“Being of a creative mind, he decided to draw attention to his unsold stock by naming that color Tango Orange. In no time the orange fabric inventory was sold, as everyone wanted to be a part of that craze – if not by dancing, at least by wearing a “Tango color.””

There might not be an official color of tango, but if there was one, it was orange. Holly Collins in “The Color of Tango” also added that the most popular fabric in 1913 tango was satin in yellow and orange. Undeniably, orange was really something at the beginning of tango, and it lasted for years!

What Does the Color Orange Mean?

Every color has meaning, and it differs for every culture. But generally,

orange stands for optimism, enthusiasm, adventure, and creativity.

Orange is a combination of red and yellow, which are both energetic. Unsurprisingly, orange is also the same!

In “Psychology of the Color Orange,” Kendra Cherry

described orange as an energetic color that grabs your attention. It could also be happy and spiritual.

However, Color Meanings in “Orange Color Meaning: The Color Orange Symbolizes Enthusiasm and Emotion”

also associates orange with exhibitionism, superficiality, impatience, and domination.

Is It the Color of Tango?

Colors Explained in “Meaning of the Color Orange: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More” called orange the “enthusiastic adventurer.” If we look at all the words linked to the color, we can also find words that describe the tango and dancers.

Dancing the tango could feel like an “adventure,” and dancers must be “creative.”

Tango is energetic, and the way dancers move is attention-grabbing.

Perhaps, we can also find exhibitionism and domination in tango in some light. But superficiality and impatience? Not so much. In the end, orange was once heavily associated with tango, and still appears in accessories and clothing.

Tango Yellow

Another color linked to tango at the same time as orange was yellow. Yellow is directly related to orange. We can say it’s the parent of orange! In our article “IS RED THE COLOR OF ARGENTINE TANGO?” we shared:

“In the early 1900s, a revolution of yellow satin harem pants overtook the tango fashion.

The so-called “genie pants”, “elephant pants”, or “Aladdin pants”, were extremely full, puffed Turkish-style pants.

Photo from Wayward Collection

These harem pants were a part of a Paris couturier, Paul Poiret’s efforts to reinvent and ‘liberate’ Western female fashion.”

Edwardian yellow and orange were once again a big part of tango fashion.

For years, tango yellow was the thing until other colors started to appear.

The Meaning of Yellow

The four words that best define yellow are happiness, optimism, creativity, and intellect.

As said by Colors Explained in “Meaning of the Color Yellow: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More,”

yellow is one of the happiest colors of the spectrum.

“Yellow is curious and creative, but it makes sure to keep us grounded.

It is one of the best colors to stimulate mental activity and activate memory.

If there is a color that represents the mind, intellect, communication, and new ideas, that color is yellow.

Yellow is the communicator, the scientist, the entertainer.”

However, despite being called the “cheerful friend,”

yellow can also mean cowardice, deception, egotism, and caution.

Color Meanings in “Yellow Color Meaning: The Color Yellow Symbolizes Happiness and Optimism” said

yellow and emotions don’t go hand in hand because yellow has no room for sappy and exaggerated feelings.

Is It the Color of Tango?

Let’s focus on all the words associated with yellow. It’s undoubtedly a happy and optimistic color; all you can think about is sunshine, warmth, and energy. At the same time,

yellow stands for intellect and creativity, two must-haves for tango dancers.

But when it comes to emotions, which is also a crucial part of tango, yellow falls short. It’s difficult to say definitively that yellow is or isn’t the color of tango. It could be, but it might not always have been.

Tango Black

One of the colors that replaced Edwardian orange and yellow was black.

Black is one of the most popular colors for male tango clothes today, along with white.

Despite black’s associations with death, sadness, and darkness, many tango dancers, especially men, wear black clothes.

It’s most probably because black looks elegant and sophisticated, regardless of what the color means.

As a neutral color, black is also easy to pair with other colors. With male tango dancers wearing black, it doesn’t matter what color their follower is wearing. It could be yellow, orange, pink, or green, and they would still look great together!

Wearing black in tango may not be about the color’s meaning but practicality.

What the Color Black Means

If we look into the meaning of black, it’s really about power and sophistication.

It’s the color of mystery and elegance! No wonder tango dancers automatically look stylish in black. Color Meanings in “Black Color Meaning: The Color Black Symbolizes Power and Sophistication” described it as “sleek and chic,” saying:

“Worn predominantly by elegant, wealthy figures, black oozes with sophistication. It’s for this reason why many people don black clothing when attending a fancy event. In the fashion realm, black is synonymous with class and flair. You can dress it up and down, making it a staple in many wardrobes. Pairing nicely with brighter tones, black loses its aggressive edge when combined with vivid hues.”

But unfortunately,

black is also related to negative feelings such as depression, sadness, pessimism, and dominance.

As said by Colors Explained in “Meaning of the Color Black: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More”:

“Many people even wonder if black is a color at all since it is the absence of light, the absence of color.

As such, black conveys pessimism and a lack of hope, suggesting sadness and depression. It takes the positive aspects of life out, just as a black hole sucks everything that comes too close.”

Is It the Color of Tango?

Black is the color of mystery and elegance; no doubt about that.

It’s the color of power, which could also be related to how “powerful” tango is as a dance. It’s also easy to pair with other colors, making it an excellent choice for tango dancers.

But black may not be the best choice when conveying emotions.

If tango dancers want their clothes to support their emotional movements, they might want to consider adding a pop of another color.

Is black the color of the tango? It might be…

Tango Red

If there’s a color that people associate with tango so often that it’s even considered the color of tango, it’s the color red.

Along with black, red took over the Edwardian orange and yellow to become one of the most popular colors for tango apparel. Women tango dancers often wear red dresses, shoes, and accessories, looking fiery in the arms of men in black.

Seeing the color red in tango somehow feels right.

The way it looks matches the tango, which is another reason people really believe it’s the color of tango. Why is that?

The Meaning of Red

Red is the color of action and passion.

Colors Explained in “Meaning of the Color Red: Symbolism, Common Uses, & More” call it the “impulsive lover,” with the color evoking strong emotions and motivation.

It’s also the color of love, which makes perfect sense why it’s often used in tango.

But like any other color, red also has negative meanings, such as anger, danger, revenge, and aggression.

Femme Fatales often wear red, symbolizing power and intensity. While we’re all for empowerment and strength, “power” isn’t always positive.

Red is a provocative color, and not everyone can handle it.

Is It the Color of Tango?

Red is most probably the closest color to tango. It’s the color of passion and power, precisely what tango is about.


there’s a great chance that tango dancers wear red because of what makes them feel, not necessarily because it’s tango.

Some also think that red in tango is out-of-date. It’s like a broken record, the same color used by tango dancers for years and years because it means love, passion, and all that. As a result, we see other colors as part of the tango wardrobe. So, red, like the other colors, may or may not be the color of tango.

The Color of Tango Is Personal

Tango has stood the test of time, but its “colors” have never been set in stone. The traditional orange and yellow are no longer as popular as before, replaced with black, red, and other tones.

Tango dancers are free to wear whatever color they want for whatever reason.

It could be because one looks good with their skin tone or because a color means something to them.

At the end of the day, the tango color is personal. It’s up to us to decide what color tango is for us.

And who knows? Maybe one day, another color could take over! Regardless, tango would still be tango.

It doesn’t matter if you are entirely new to dancing… or have been dancing your whole life. We distill everything you need to know to be able to hit the milonga into simple, easy-to-understand steps. Regardless of your level, this course has something for everyone!

At the end of Tango Passport, you’ll be able to improvise and dance the tango…. anywhere in the world. More details HERE.

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