Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tango is not Badum-dum-dum

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWho would have thought that Tango would be the sexiest dancing I'd ever seen? This is no "nobody puts baby in the corner" moment. This is what the swing craze could have been minus the gymnastics and with a little respect for the intimate moments. Slow, close, and nostalgic, Tango is what you wish for when you look at black and white photos of Paris or NYC. Old movie kisses and Billy Holiday flower in the hair songs. I can't believe it's that good.
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Lucky for me, I went to La Viruta instead of going to a more touristy Tango house. La Viruta is the YMCA but super romantic. It's full of regular Argentines celebrating romance with slow dancing - foreheads touching and tushes jutting out to respect the personal space. My parents could have got down at La Viruta and not been at all out of place where there were talented fifteen-year-olds carrying on a turn of the century art form. Walking downstairs into the basement, friends and I encountered a space with a rec-room vibe. The music was old Europe accordions and strings and the crowd was a mix of Argentinians and Foreigners - mostly Scandinavians and Germans with the occasional Japanese or Korean. People were taking classes at 8pm on a Sunday and it was surprisingly crowded.
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We didn't feel up to partnering and trying it out so we ate some empenadas and eventually went out for the evening. We ended up coming back to the milonga later with a couple of other friends and we saw La Viruta in full effect. The couples were moving around in a slow embrace, eyes closed, retro outfits, the whole thing. They weren't dancing for show - they were obviously in it for the personal sensation and it was riveting. The five of us sat there for over an hour and stared at the dance floor and were amazed. It was gorgeous.
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Legend has it, my maternal grandfather's father was killed at a milonga in Buenos Aires sometime just before World War I. His death would have coincided with the birth of Tango. The first milongas were bordellos for immigrants who were separated from their families and loved ones and went to the milonga for a little TLC and some nookie. Musicians would play to entertain the customers and the ladies would dance with them. The tango was born and had its hayday between the wars. Recently, the Buenos Aires municipal government started up a festival every March. It's gained momentum and tango has become really popular. I just convinced my friend Max to go with me this week - I don't feel up to locking foreheads with a 55 year old Norwegian. If I'm lucky, I'll get a photo of us to post. But first, I need "tacos" - proper high heels for tango-ing.
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2 comments:

Maria Elena said...

Eva, mi eva, Como te extrano! Nice recap of the milonga! So, I tried a free tango class here in NY, after that night at La Viruta and I loved it! Not as intimidating as La Viruta's beginner class. I'm going to start taking classes now. The instructor told me I "have nice rhythm." Will keep you posted! Then when you're back we can go!

Eve Ciudad said...

yay! we can have a BsAs in NYC situation. my girl tracy is coming here sunday and we will do la viruta - intimidating as it is. in fact, i'm headed there tomorrow with the boyfriend too. excited!

te estrano igualmente, chica. so when i'm back we can all go and turn it out. i love that you are making it happen en la gran manzana with your nice rhythm!
beso tremende para ti y alti tambien,
eve