Retired techie teaches Argentine dance at Tango Tribe studio


Argentine Tango is a dance of connections, said David Phillips, owner of South Austin dance studio Tango Tribe.

“We connect with ourselves and our own energy; we connect to the music that inspires us; we connect to our partner to communicate our ideas; we connect with other dancers in the room and the onlookers,” he said.

Phillips created Tango Tribe in 2017 to introduce Argentine Tango to the growing Southwest Austin community and to inspire a new generation to dance. The dance studio offers weekly beginner- and intermediate-level group classes, as well as private lessons and open dance time.

Other dance instructors also use the space for classes at various times throughout the week.

Argentine Tango is one of the most challenging dances to pursue because the complex movements are done while in “an intimate embrace” with a dance partner, Phillips said. The key is communicating your intended steps to your partner with clarity, comfort, consistency and creativity, he said.

As an instructor, he said his goal is to “instill the idea of creation” while making sure his students understand the movement possibilities from one step to the next. He also teaches about the culture behind the dance and its accompanying music, which originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Phillips moved to Austin in 1966 from Midland, Texas, to attend The University of Texas and learn about computers and programing.

While his parents met at a dance class in art school, Phillips said he and his wife did not start taking dance classes until the early ’80s.

“From the first step they taught us—stepping out to a foxtrot—I fell in love with dance,” he said.

Phillips said they learned dances from ballroom to swing and even danced competitively. However, his work in the tech industry occupied his time until he retired in 2010.  Once retired, he began taking dance lessons again. When finally introduced to Argentinian Tango, he said he began pursuing it almost exclusively and traveled to Argentina and Europe to learn more.

“I took so many different classes and saw such a variety of teaching styles and skills, I came to develop my own philosophy,” Phillips said.

He said Austin has an active and supportive tango community. He hopes his studio will help grow and inspire the  local dance community while sharing his own style of dance and teaching.

Tango Tribe

5446 W. Hwy. 290, Ste. 105, Austin
Beginner tango class: Tue. 7:30 p.m.
Intermediate tango class: Tue. 8:30 p.m.
Open studio practice: Wed. 7 p.m.,  Sat. 11 a.m.
Other studio hours, class and practice schedules vary.

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Nicholas Cicale
Nick was born in Long Island, New York and grew up in South Florida. He graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in writing and a minor in music. Nick was a journalist for three years at the St. James Plaindealer in Minnesota before moving to Austin to join Community Impact Newspaper in 2016.
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