Once again I’ve been out in Buenos Aires to do something I have zero knowledge or interest in so I can accurately recommend activities based on my experiences, and this week it was my first tango class and show. Anyone who even vaguely knows me will find this concept hilarious. I tend to dance like an electric toothbrush that’s been stood upright and I am blessed with all the natural rhythm of someone with tourettes – erratic at best! I must admit a certain level of apprehension at the prospect of my first dance lesson in anything since high school (dance was mandatory before you ask), where I’d taken to it like a duck to concrete. But life is for new experiences and who knows; maybe I had subconsciously developed a Fred Astaire-esque gift in the 15 years since I’d last attempted it?!
I hadn’t, obviously, but we will go into that later. I went along with Sarah, an experienced tango’er and fellow writer on this blog and just as a quick glimpse as to how coordinated I am, I accidentally cut her foot open ON THE WAY to the venue, but I viewed this as a way of handicapping her so that with a limp we would at least be at the same level!
The We Are Tango show is owned and operated by Facundo Dione and his partner, Virginia Ghiglione, and they have a few different venues, but this particular venue was the lobby of a hotel in San Telmo, a small yet intimate venue that really puts the dancing at the forefront of the occasion, which is where it should be. We were seated on one of 4 tables arranged at the edge of the lobby and given a delicious welcome drink of Hesperadina, an Argentine spirit based on oranges, and the evening started. Unfortunately for me, the tango class was to start and I hadn’t consumed nearly enough alcohol to brave standing in a room full of strangers and shuffling around like I’d just been raised from the dead. The teachers however were incredibly patient, and they had to be! I’m sure I was taught the same 8-step combo 20 times and I still didn’t get it. Fortunately for me, despite the handicap I’d attempted to give her, Sarah was on hand to baby me through every step and by the end even I looked like I was dancing. Perhaps not tango, but I was definitely dancing something.
After the hour long class we sat down to nibbles and wine while a band played us live tango music and took requests. This gave me a chance to cool down and appreciate tango music, which I have never really listened to before, and I have to say the band were excellent – I have no idea how difficult it really is to play an accordion but if its anything like it looks, that guy deserves a medal!
Facundo conducts the night himself and he was soon out to introduce the dancers for the show. Now I really didn’t know what to expect – I have seen amateur dancers before and certainly seen the tango on TV, but I was very surprised as to what came next. Rather than the standard routine of just watching 2 dancers perform similar dances over and over, the We Are Tango team really set up a show.
The whole hour long routine is set out like a story, we were introduced to the concept of the gaucho, who comes out dressed and acting the part to perform a highly aggressive foot stomping dance complete with jangling spurs. We were then taught about the evolution of tango, and how it was popular in the brothels, frequented by the gaucho’s and male migrant population, through to the modern dance we see today. Each dancer had 3 or 4 outfits which they changed into at various parts of the show to truly develop the story being told and to add a more authentic image. The dancers themselves were amazing; they really lived their parts and made it all very believable. I don’t want to go on and spoil it for anyone who intends to go, but the whole show was great from start to finish and I could drink as much wine as I liked! If you want a great introduction to the tango in an intimate environment with a partner, then I can’t recommend we are tango enough, it really brings the tango alive and places it right under you’re noses. The only suggestion I have is a snack before you go to keep your hunger at bay. Sarah was full, but I am think I am still in the English time-zone. Anyhow, the show finishes early so it’s nice to leave with an appetite to enjoy one of the popular steak houses in the barrio.
By Richard Porter. Richard works at The Argentine Experience.