Never have I felt more akin with, immersed or at home in a place as I did when dancing tango in Buenos Aires.
However, just before my tango lesson, I must admit that I spent a nerve wracking couple of hours in my hotel waiting to be collected. Never having danced tango before, or even watched it being danced, I was fairly apprehensive. Typically British, I didn’t want to look a fool.
Learning Tango in Buenos Aires
My teachers, Constanza and Marcelo, collected me at 9pm and drove me to a studio in the Palermo district of Buenos Aires. There they began with the complete basics – teaching me, one by one, the simple building blocks to dancing the tango. I began to loosen up; this wasn’t as hard or embarrassing as I had envisaged. Obviously both lovers of the dance, Constanza and Marcelo made me feel completely at home, welcome in the alien environment of the studio and at ease with the learning process.
Constanza was taught to dance the tango by her father when she was a small child. Marcelo was then taught by Constanza four years ago and has never looked back. They have since developed the perfect partnership and friendship based on a mutual love of the dance, complementing each other’s teaching styles. Both thoroughly pleasant people, they are delightful to spend an evening with, even if you never set foot on the dance floor.
Having spent an hour learning and practicing the basic techniques in order to feel quite confident, we then all headed out of the studio and to a ‘milonga’ (tango club). In a world increasingly full of touristy gimmicks, this was a completely authentic experience; a rarity. As far as I could tell, I was the only tourist there and it felt like a completely ‘real’ experience.
We sat at a table at the edge of the dance floor, ate empanadas and watched the end of a group lesson before the floor opened up to anyone wanting to dance. What struck me most about the milonga was that people of all ages come together – there are eighteen year olds dancing with eighty year olds and it was lovely to see. I struggle to think of another evening activity that brings generations together in this way.
The great thing about tango is that it is not choreographed, so it isn’t like learning a dance routine but about learning how to respond to each other’s movements. For this reason it is perfect for beginners. You need zero experience in any type of dance to be confident on the floor after an hour’s lesson and it’s just so much fun. Of all the incredible things I’ve done in Argentina it felt like the most personal and genuine. It is also the one that makes me want to return the most.