How many people are dancing Argentine Tango?

Disclaimer: Let’s be clear right away: This is not a scientific study! The first person to claim that 030tango said that one can arrive at valid and accurate numbers with this method, will be the target of endless ridicule and laughter! This is a playful attempt to get a number closer to reality than guessing alone.

1 – Why would you want to know?

A while back I asked myself: How many people actually dance Tango? You won’t find anyanswer to this question. I couldn’t find any numbers, not even good guesses.

Part of the problem is, that there is no worldwide Tango association, backed by national associations, like you would have in sports. Sure,there is the “official” Tango world championship. But its claim for being official comes from being organized by the city of Buenos Aires. This form of organization won’t be able to help to find out how many people are actually dancing recreational.

How could we get at least an idea regarding this question? A representative worldwide study is a bit beyond the resources of 030tango (but I would love to see this happening!) and being an huge fan of the XKCD „What if?“ blog, I decided to treat it like a Fermi-Problem. True nerd style.

I don’t really care if there are 1.45 million or 1.78 million Tango dancers in the world. What I do care about, is if there are 1 million or 10 million Tango dancers in the world (or just 100,000… or maybe you are the only one?).

A general sense of curiosity is the main motivation to work on this. But yes, it’s also important for me to see, in what dimensions 030tango could grow, just by exclusively reaching the Tango community. 030tango takes up a lot of time and resources. If I want to be able to continue the project long term, there has to be an audience for it and I have to know how big this audience is.

2 – Methodology

I posted a small questionnaire, where I asked people to indicate where they live and to estimate how many people live and dance Tango in their town. The thought behind this is, that most likely someone will over- or underestimate both numbers by around the same amount. With these two numbers, we can just take a percentage of how many people dance Tango in that city and apply these percentages to official numbers of citizens of a city/country. Over 1000 people answered (and after sorting out some joke answers and very productive comments by know-it-alls) I looked on how many guesses I had from different regions.

Most of the people answered from Europe (including Turkey) and North America.

To sort out some people who are really bad at guessing and who just wanted to damage the result, I cut off the top and bottom 10% of the percentages of dancers for each subset. For each subset I will present an average, a minimum and a maximum. The real number will probably lie somewhere in between there… or not… but at least it should be possible to compare different cities.

After getting so many answers from all over the world, I decided to get a separate estimate from Buenos Aires. It is the capital of Tango and one can assume, that they got a higher percentage of Tango dancers than in other parts of the world.

I decided to calculate subsets for North America and Europe combined and all countries and cities with at least 40 entries. This way, there will always be more than 30 guesses going into each subset.

For the most current population numbers, I took the most up to date numbers I could find on the English version of Wikipedia.

3 – The numbers

Where? Average Min Max Population Year Avg % Min % Max %
North America and Europe 754,751 111,815 2,795,376 1,397,687,871 2016 0.054 0.008 0.200
Buenos Aires (Metro) 145,433 5,029 1,000,225 13,591,863 2010 1.070 0.037 7.359
Italy 81,204 19,998 201,798 60,599,936 2016 0.134 0.033 0.333
USA 80,782 12,925 268,196 323,127,513 2016 0.025 0.004 0.083
Germany 78,889 18,900 233,379 82,175,700 2015 0.096 0.023 0.284
Netherlands 17,459 4,279 52,718 17,116,281 2017 0.102 0.025 0.308
England 15,888 2,191 59,169 54,786,300 2015 0.029 0.004 0.108
Poland 15,454 3,863 44,429 38,634,007 2017 0.040 0.010 0.115
Berlin (City) 4,845 1,064 12,517 3,670622 2016 0.132 0.029 0.341

4 – Conclusion

What have we learned from this? All of us together guessed, that there are between 110,000 and 2.8 million Tango dancers in North America and Europe combined. The true number is probably around 755,000.

We can add the number for Buenos Aires (145,000) and arrive at around 900,000 dancers.

This should cover the major centers of Tango at the moment. While most of humankind lives in Asia, I only hear of small communities in India or the Philippines, with a bigger number of dancers in Japan, China and Korea. But whether this adds 100,000 dancers or not, is not so important for me personally… your mileage may differ.

So, if someone asks you next time “How many people actually dance Tango?” you can easily say: “Around 0.054 percent of the population, except in Buenos Aires, there it’s more like 1.07 percent!”

Or just say:: “Probably around 900,000 people.” But that sounds pretty boring to me and to 43.87 percent of the worldwide population.

5 – Addendum

In case you are interested in the original data and the subsets for the different cities/countries (after the first cleanup of wrong entries and jokes), you can find them here:
Google Drive Link

So this is yet another insight into stuff that I invest time in due to making Tango videos. If you enjoy side projects like this and want to support me to continue doing this, head over to the 030tango Patreon pageand support videos and other Tango-related shenanigans.

Happy dancing,
Jonas

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