For over forty or fifty years, the dance halls where Tango is danced in Buenos Aires, continue to enjoy a tradition that is widely celebrated by those who take pleasure from a night at the “milonga.” During the course of the evening and all the way through the night into the early hours of the morning, the DJs play sets of Swing, Rock and Roll, American Jazz, Cumbias, Salsa, Tangos, Valses and Milongas. Each set includes four alike rhythms, which the locals call “tandas.” It is quite a treat to see the Argentines flocking to the dance floor to dance swing to Swing, rock to Rock and Roll, jazz to American Jazz, cumbia to Cumbias, salsa to Salsa, tangos to Tango, vals to Valses and milonga to Milongas.
Like most of my compatriots, I never took ballroom classes, and as matter of fact there isn’t a single ballroom dance that I can dance. Some of my best friends and a lot of our Tango students dance ballroom. I admire them and respect them for their grace and talent, and I truly enjoy watching them dance cha-cha to Cha cha, rumba to Rumba, salsa to Salsa, merengue to Merengue, mambo to Mambo, swing to Swing, fox trot to Fox Trot, waltz to Viennese, American tango to American tango. I can almost identify each one of the dances, even if as I said before, I have no clue as to how to do them myself. I can only dance Tango, Vals criollo and Milongas.
As a matter of fact I paid for and took my very first dance lesson less than ten years ago. It was a Tango lesson. Ever since, Tango has given me the gift of love and friendship in the way of the best partner I could ever dream of or wish for. It has given me the privilege and fortune to make everlasting friendships and to share lives and homes across the country. It has afforded me the unexpected luck and fortune of learning the structure and conceptual form of the Tango dance as it has been transmitted from generation to generation from the best. In particular, I profess a proud admiration and a profound respect for Mingo Pugliese who taught me how to think and therefore, how to dance to a Tango; how to learn by teaching and to teach by learning.
A Tango can be sweet, playful, arrogant, elegant, flirty, romantic, risqué, enrapturing, compelling, simple, complex, sarcastic, sad, crude, tedious – you name it. It is the reflection of the people who created it. As it touches me with its music, it is its “compas “that invites me to dance it. Its sound enters my brain for recognition and a vast array of emotions fill my heart in response to the stimulus of a song. As I look for the unsuspecting eyes of a woman whose emotions have been set in motion by the music, I just know I’m going to share the intimacy of an embrace, the nervousness of the first displacements, the warm breathing that follows every step, the soft texture of skin as faces touch. There is nothing like the shared intimacy of a sound, a scent, a gesture, a look, a smile, a tear, a trembling body, nervous hands, a sense of implied trust and respect for the hundreds of total strangers I have danced with, some of which have become dear Tango friends, sometimes at the end of just three minutes. Then another Tango plays. New and old emotions will be shared with new and old partners. Our hearts harboring the feelings so we can draw with our entwined bodies renewed dreams and promises to the sound of a Tango on the inviting canvas that our feet caress.