OMAR VEGA   9 comments

Omar VegaOmar Vega

We’re mourning the untimely passing of a man whose calling card was the joy of rhythm. The news of the sudden death of Omar Vega had the effect of a sucker punch in the stomach. It came as a one liner posted on the ATOF under the subject of Omar Vega, Is it true that he is no longer with us? How sad.

Within minutes various regional groups confirmed that Omar Vega had passed away Friday, September 19. He had been admitted to a hospital Tuesday, September 16 with a severe asthma attack.

At 49, he had managed to make a name for himself in the finicky world of itinerant tango teachers. Some considered him an amazing dancer who helped a lot of people understand dancing better, however because of his well known personal lifestyle, everyone who has met or known him, had stories to tell. So far we heard only the ones about, “Me, me, myself and me.

He first appeared on the radar screen of Americans in 1994 when he was discovered during a tour by the Bridge to the Tango group. His particular style of dancing incorporated elements of the cumbia and other tropical rhythms he was fond of dancing on Sunday evenings at Salon La Argentina. He captured the imagination of many tango tourists on a holiday from the prejudices at home. Way ahead of the curve, he was already a rising star at the legendary Tuesday night milonga Almagro.

Omar Vega and Dolores del Amo in 1994 at Almagro

In 1997, the underworld of the tango still operated under a pecking order structure, and Omar was lower down the ranks.

Because we came to Buenos Aires preceded by the reputation of our magazine El Firulete, and three years reputation for managing the social and professional activities of many Forever Tango seasoned and rising stars, we received a red carpet treatment everywhere we went.

Alberto’s birthday party at La Galeria del tango in Buenos Aires, April 16, 1997

Never before and never again will these tango masters be dancing together honoring a friend like they did at my birthday party on 4/16/97. Those were different times, very special times.

The point of this slight detour into self indulgence is that we were coming from a different world, one that was already looking at a new dawning for the evolution of the tango at a global level.

We wanted to see a live performance of a mythical orchestra. The Juan D’Arienzo orchestra. The problem was that they were playing at a place considered “de cuarta,” a low class dive notorious for the blue collar clientèle of domestic help and suitors in search of a roll in the hay. No self respecting tanguero would be seen at Salon La Argentina, we were admonished, warned, and lectured.

But we made our way there anyway, the lure of live music played by Los Solistas de D’Arienzo was too strong not to, and that’s were we found Omar.

Omar Vega at Salon La Argentina in 1997

The orchestra had also lured this man of rhythm, and he danced up a storm to tango and cumbias that night.

He seemed to know us because he came over to greet us. He was cordial and we talked. He mentioned that he was going to the USA and asked us not to be harsh with his performance. The request struck us as being odd because we didn’t know him, and didn’t think that we were important enough for him to be worry about our opinions. Months later, when we found out who his sponsors were, the obvious prejudice and unjustified bias became clear.

Omar continued that conversation for years to come whenever our paths crossed on the global tango touring circuit. The last time we saw him was in NYC in 2007. He was fully aware of the tragedy brought upon New Orleans by Katrina and he volunteered to come and help with the recovery efforts.

We pray for the eternal rest of his soul and offer our condolences to his family, which include a wife and a couple of children.

In memory of Omar Vega

Posted September 21, 2008 by Alberto & Valorie in IN MEMORY OF

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9 responses to “OMAR VEGA

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  1. Being the mother of his two children, I thank you for this artcle. He was an extaordinary man. And we will never forget him.

  2. To dance with Omar was to experience magic. He brought out the best in his dance partners. Women would always walk away breathless amazed at how well they had danced. “I didn’t know I could do that!” was my standard response at the end of a dance with Omar.
    He was kind and generous with his time. I saw him patiently spend time with a student’s young nephew showing him how to dance tango. He performed pro bono at the Oktoberfest Gala at the Denver Turnverein to fund the desperately needed new roof on the building where Tango Colorado has its practicas. When asked how did you manage that? … well it was simple, I just asked and he said yes.

    Omar’s may not have had a formal education but his favorite book was Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse.

    He was a veteran of the Falklands war and shared the experience in broken spanglish of shivering cold on the front lines as a young man, rifle in hand.

    Omar was a champion billiards player as well. He had a lovely singing voice and would sing along with the old songs at milongas in San Francisco spontaneously. One night we took advantage of a stairwell with great acoustics as he and Ken Delmar were leaving to sing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” .

    A great tease, he would not hesitate to try the balancing a spoon on your nose trick at dinner in a restuarant or to steal things from your salad if you happened to be sitting next to him and suddenly find things on you plate from his salad he didn’t like.

    We talked of God sometimes late at night after the milonga. He had a spirituality deeper than most would attribute to him. He had his own code of conduct and he abided by that.

    Omar was always a gentleman and very treated me with great respect.

    I would like to extend my heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his children and their mother.

    Omar was a great man, he had a good heart, he gave the world much joy in his dancing and in his simply being himself. What more could one ask of life?

    To know Omar Vega was to have magic in your life! I know my life has been much richer and more joyous for the lessons he taught me .

    The psalmist said ” you have taken away my sackcloth and clothed me in joy and dancing” this is what it was like to be in Omar Vega’s presence, to be clothed in joy and dancing.

    When asked is there dancing in heaven? I will now respond yes, Milonga Traspie, you see Omar is there now…

    Cynthia Ann Hyfield, MDiv., Omar’s student

  3. Hello, my name is Omar Vega, and first of all, I want to thank you for visiting my new website and for your interest in my curriculum vitae. Twenty-five years ago, I never thought that I would become a tango professional. I thank my mother, Irma Jeronima Vega, for this possibility, since she is of African heritage, and I thank my grandparents for being of color, and, of course, for giving me this heritage in my blood. Because of this heritage, whenever I hear a drum or any kind of African music, my blood begins to boil in my veins and my heart begins to pulsate and my body to vibrate to the beat of a tango, milonga, salsa, mambo, or danzon, even if I am standing still.

    And today I have 23 years as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. And I have had the good fortune to know many countries in Europe: Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and France. And many cities and states in the US: New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Colorado, Atlanta, and many more…

    I was born in Concordia in the province of Entre Rios in 1959 to an Argentine mother and German father, and in the first two months of my life they brought me to live in Buenos Aires, so I am really a gaucho by nature. I learned folkloric dance as part of growing up, but it was not so with tango, milonga, and vals. I studied those dances for five years in a cultural arts center where I learned a lot about tango dancing for shows; but not much about the social dance floor. One day a friend said to me: “Look at all the dancing you are doing, and you never go to the milongas!” She motivated me to go to a milonga, and there I got a big disappointment, because the first step I did, dancing with a 65 year old milonguera, was a backward step, causing the lady to run into a veteran milonguero within the first 15 seconds of dancing. The women led me by the arm back to my table and said to me: “Pibe, when you learn to dance tango, ask me to dance!” Two minutes later, the man we bumped into on the dance floor came over and said to me: “Pibe, you like the tango?”. I answered arrogantly, thinking inside, “Don’t you see that I’m a dancer?” and he continued, “so why don’t you learn how to dance tango?” That was the most frustrating day of my career, and after that I dedicated myself fully to learning about the social dance floor: the sense of the space, the sense of where I am standing, how to begin to dance, etc…

    I worked in films like “The Tango Lesson” dancing with the lead actress and director, Sally Potter. In “Convivencia” (“Coexistence”) with the maestro Osvaldo Pugliese. In television, in “Solo Tango”, where I have video credits for two pieces of choreography. I worked with Julian and El Choclo, who gave my career great enhancement. I had the opportunity to travel around a lot of the world. I won many tango championships and received first place in Argentina in 1999.

    I have taught in the best places for tango, such as Almagro, Niño Bien, and at Parakultural, at festivals such as the Boston Tango Festival, and in Los Angeles and Holland, Cosmotango, and many more…

    I created teaching videos with Daniel Trenner and my own DVD of milonga traspie.

    And lastly, people have characterized me as an important teacher of milonga traspie, and I have learned a lot by teaching this dance, and getting to know its movements intimately, which I must admit are 80% self-taught. I consider Pepito Avellaneda as my only teacher.

    For my part, I thank you for your attention, and I send warm greetings, a hug, and a kiss to those who already know me and to those who are new to me.


  4. I danced with Omar when I was in New York.
    It was so much fun. So sad I won’t see him when I return.
    I thought the tribute to Omar was interesting also, I found it here
    Is there a way we can help support the memorials online?

  5. Murio mi amigo Omar !!! Y con el se va el verdadero tango, el tango mugriento, la roña tanguera, la hermosa suciedad o mierda del tango verdadero… Ahora el tango sera para pequeños burgueses, clasemedieros con guita que pueden trasnochar, no para laburantes y poligrillos (pero cuando lo fue?), ahora el tango es algo lavado, adocendao, aggiornado, aburguesado, “cool, nuevo, electronico…”

    Omar the acordas cuando vivimos la gloriosa epoca y epica del tango, cuando era cosa de “viejos” y casi nadie lo bailaba, cuando no estaba de moda, cuando no existia el menemato y los boludos no iban al exterior y cuando volvian decian, “Che tengo que aprender a bailar el tango porque estuve en Miami o en NY y me decian como sos argento y no sabes bailar el tango? No, che tengo que aprender!”

    Ahora el mundo es mas chiquito, hijodeputa, como te fuiste asi sin avisar y tan joven…
    Por que los buenos se mueren?

    Por que no se mueren los garcas que ahora se llenan la boca de gotan! Ahora resulta que son todos tangueros…

    Pero ellos no conocieron (como Omar) de las pocilgas de Constitucion llenas de ratas… de no tener una puta moneda partida al medio… de tener que cogerse viejas chotas para tener donde dormir y morfar…

    Yo te lo dije hermano y no me escuchaste desgraciadamente: el dinero no es nada, el dinero es nada! Donde estaran las cadenitas de oro que ostentabas orgulloso?

    Chau hermano, nos veremos en el infierno alli donde vamos nosotros los bellos hijosdeputa, los huerfanos, los malditos, los peronianos…Viva Peron carajo!!!


  6. Despues que se mueren aparecen los “amigos” a vanagloriarse de las hazañas ajenas. Seguramente debes extrañar que te quedaste sin sangre para chupar, sinverguenza y caradura


  8. Hi Everyone. I have just discovered Omar. All I cvan say is he is now up there with all my favourites. I am loving watching him. lots of my friends say they love dancing milonga with me. I now have new hero. Move over Dany Flaco! Wonderful rhythm and musicality. Absolutely natural born dancer. I have just posted him dancing on the Seine in PAris milonguero style. ( my preferred) on my Facebook page. I am sure it will get lots of LIKES. RIP Omar. besos y abrazos a su familia. Erico

    • Well, Erico, does your mom let you stay up playing with the computer?
      Maybe she should revise all those hours teaching you about respect, especially when it comes to the death, and their families. Looks like you skipped several lessons.
      What about Flaco Danny? You can’t even get the proper order of the words but see nothing wrong with using my space to disrespect a person who has been around several times over the time you have on this earth.
      Your friends are patronizing you.

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