We all have a different story that brought us to tango in the first place – whether it is the nagging wife or girlfriend, the cute guy who made us swoon, the tune that gave us goosebumps, the simple desire to do something creative and artistic, Strictly’s wild leg moves… Something made us start tango, and something made us continue dancing: once a week, then twice a week, then 3 times a week… You might know the story.
We’ve asked people around us what tango was to them and we’re publishing a series of blogs with their genuine answers! After all, talking about tango is the next best thing after actually dancing tango.
When I was a teenager, I played the accordion. I loved (and still love) the sound of this instrument, however, the focus was on Bavarian folkloric music which I found utterly uncool. I therefore hardly practiced. My teacher must have eventually become really annoyed and promised to raise my interest by suggesting a very different genre: Argentinian tango. He could not have been more right: I suddenly practiced almost every day.
Around the same time I watched ‘Scent of a woman’ at the cinema and was enchanted by Al Pacino’s famous tango scene. I decided then that I wanted to learn to dance to this beautiful music.
In my first year at uni, they offered a combined salsa/tango class. One of my male friends asked if I wanted to attend the course with him. The lesson was split in half: 45 min salsa/45 min tango. I don’t know why, but salsa was somehow not my thing, I never got the hip action right. However, I enjoyed every single second of the tango class. Unfortunately, I did not keep it up as my friend moved away and all my other male friends declined politely. It was not until years later when I was made redundant that I knew my chance had come: I put everything in storage, packed my bags to travel across South America, final destination Buenos Aires.
Once I arrived in Buenos Aires, I started by doing Spanish classes in the morning and a tango class in the evening. But I soon got seriously hooked to tango, dropped the languages classes and dialed up on the tango front. On some days, I did a private class in the morning, one or two group classes in the afternoon, and some evenings a milonga. I eventually had to leave Buenos Aires and come back to reality as I ran out of money and needed a proper job. I found one in London also some really great London tango places which take me (for at least a tanda) back to the great Buenos Aires moments.
With Buenos Aires being the birth place of tango, there is an unlimited supply of all the schools and milongas out there so that really everybody can certainly find the right style for themselves. And every evening there are several milongas to choose from, or you simply start at one and move on to the next.
However, for true beginners I found it a bit tricky as the level is very high. For me, that meant that I was not often asked to dance at the milonga unless I went with people from my class. Nonetheless, I learnt my lesson: I now know that as a lady you don’t ever do any turn/step ever unless the guy asks for it (the macho Argentinean male dancers are very very adamant about that), while on the other side I don’t crush my partner’s biceps or left hand anymore for fear of loosing my balance.
However hard it was to start tango in BA, I will never forget dancing there and I want to go back there as soon as possible. If you like dancing tango, dancing tango in BA is magical.
In London, I have found a few classes which remind me very much of how classes were run in BA, on a drop in basis. So no need to pre-book or bring your own partner, you just show up. What I love about dancing and learning tango in London is that people are very encouraging and forgiving, which especially for beginners is very important as it takes quite some time to become a more confident dancer. The friendliness might be because the tango scene here is so much smaller and therefore everybody knows each other. Or maybe I have just really become much better since dancing in London, as I understand what the teachers say (maybe dropping Spanish whilst in BA was not such a good idea after all) and my dance partner don’t complain about my iron grip anymore.
One thing that I miss in London though, is the open air tango dancing. But I heard they do dancing along the Seine, which is a lot nearer than flying to the Paris of South America;-)
These days, my non-tango friends say that I am obsessed with tango which might be an accurate description for the neutral observer. However, I believe it is a very nice addiction. For me, tango is the most wonderful dance, connecting two people very closely for a few songs, moving gracefully across the dancefloor to incredibly beautiful music.
When I dance, I tend to forget everything else that occupied my mind, and when I leave at the end of a night I am always smiling, very often still humming one of the tunes I heard that night.
Try it, I am sure you won’t regret it!
Come back in a few days for our next blog post! And do let us know if you’d like to be featured in this series!
Have a read if your want to have a look at our Argentine tango classes.