When I went to Buenos Aires this past November, of course we had to take a tango lesson. We had a contact who had referred us to her tango teacher in La Boca, a charming area in an old part of Buenos Aires. I hadn't intended to fall in love with tango, I thought it would be a "one-night stand." But, fall in love, I did. I got bit.
This is my attempt to unravel how this happened.
I have always been mesmerized by tango whenever I've seen it. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I remember one summer I was in Washington DC, just walking around, exploring the area with a friend. We heard this music from afar, and followed it to an area, a plaza of some sort, and there must have been 50 couples dancing tango. It was fascinating to watch, but it never occurred to me that I could ever be one of those people.
But when you are a tourist in Buenos Aires, you just have to take a tango lesson. If not, it would be like going to Disneyland and not go on one ride. (Is that even possible?)
The dance lesson was very reasonable, especially since we were paying with our "blue market" Argentinian pesos, which gave us more value for our dollar. And the lesson lasted longer than he had originally said it would, 4 hours instead of 2. We had 2 teachers, the dashing Guillermo Alio and Maria Del Carmen, his lovely wife. I did okay, and perhaps that's how I got hooked. I got a taste of what it felt like to dance tango, not just watch it. And it felt great! Fun!
It was a coincidence that when I returned to Kona, I learned that a Latin Dance class (to include tango) was being offered in preparation for the Aloha Performing Arts Company's next production, which is Evita. I met people who were really into Argentine tango and there is a tango community on the Big Island, more in Waimea and Hilo, but somewhat accessible. I found out that there is a class in Kona, and started to take lessons at Dance Hawaii on Alapa Street in the Old Industrial area in Kailua.
I've never seriously taken any kind of partner dance lessons. But I am told that I picked the hardest one to learn for my first one. Well, it is the one that got me to come to a class; it is the one that I fell in love with; it is the one I got bit by.
I think I would have to go have a therapy session to explore why I have been compelled to learn it. I don't know if I would be able to share those private revelations. But I'm guessing my therapist would get me to admit that somehow my soul is shouting out for "something." What could that something be?
In a Youtube Beginning Tango lesson I was watching the other day, the teacher says, "tango is about seduction." Is that what my soul is shouting out for? Maybe, wink wink. But really, I even saw this in Buenos Aires, I don't see that people see tango as a way to seduce one another. Even in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, it was really about the dance, dancing because you love the dance, not because you want to seduce of be seduced.
At a milonga in Buenos Aires, I saw this paunchy middle-aged man dancing with a beautiful young woman in casual clothes. He could've been her father. They didn't seem to know each other, but they danced beautifully together. We saw couples who came together and sat next to each other, but never danced with each other. It was striking to me how unlike a seduction zone it was. It seemed to be all about the tango. (This was my impression of course).
For the most part, I think people who are interested in tango are like me, in love with the beauty of the dance. I have hope that I will be able to portray this beauty someday. The tango is a means to express an ideal. How would I describe a tango dancer? Graceful, elegant, sexy, alive. This will be quite an accomplishment for someone once kiddingly nicknamed "Grace" by her classmates.
There's truth in all that I've written in trying to understand m attraction. But what seems most truthful is that I simply got bit.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.