On a cold, snowy night in January we turned up at the Solway Argentine Tango Society’s practica, we had no idea what to expect. We followed the strange, unique sound of the music into the hall. We saw couples, in close embrace, moving trancelike with the music, their feet tracing impossibly intricate patterns on the floor.
We’ve been Tangoed !
We were welcomed, and were soon learning our first salida, a sequence of steps known as the basic eight. We were shown how to stand, how to walk, how to hold each other and how to caress the floor with our feet. During that first evening, three different people told me quietly – ‘Tango is addictive you know.’ I didn’t know, then, and I didn’t quite believe them. But we had been caught. During that first week my partner and I sent emails to one another with links to Tango websites, grainy black & white footage from the ‘Golden Age’, and we hunted down recordings of the elusive, seductive, mesmeric music. We rearranged the furniture, giving us just enough space to practice the basic eight. Slipping into Tango Shoes in the evenings, we practiced and practiced. Walking our dog, and wearing welly boots, we practiced. In the hills, in the snow, we practiced. Clear signs of Tango addiction. The simmering sensuality of the music, which revolves around the sound of the bandoneon, seeped into our lives. In a matter of weeks, people we had never heard of, became intimate. The voice of Gardel, Astor Piazolla’s Libertango, the graceful, sweeping sound of Carlos di Sarli’s orchestra.
Tango is like a secret, intimate conversation between two people. It is somehow both private and sociable. Tango is improvisation, individuality, creativity and subtlety. It is frustrating. It is captivating, enthralling, and as we were warned, deliciously addictive. The way two people hold each other in Tango is called the ‘embrace’, and this says so much about the dance. Two people embrace one another, focus on each other, and dance heart to heart, together as one with the music. In Tango there are steps to learn, like your first words, but it is up to you how you put these words together, what conversation you want to have, what story you want to tell. A couple of months after that first night and we are now at the stage of being able to say ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’ without stumbling too much, or falling over. As we learn more of the language of Tango, we will be able to express ourselves more clearly and in our own unique style. We have been lucky to find a group of talented and generous people, who have helped us take our first steps in Tango, and have inspired us to keep trying when we have struggled. Tango has quickly become part of us and our lives. We love the music, the dance, the people, the shoes, learning together, and knowing that with practice we can only get better.
Yes, we’ve been Tangoed! By Marian Silvester
Published on Apr 9, 2009