“Close your eyes, don’t look down at your feet but listen to the music and try to feel it”. My teacher said this to me when he showed me what tango is about. I had my first lesson at ‘La Catedral’, a beautiful place where you can have a tangolesson. At ‘La Catedral’ it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or already an advanced tango dancer. After your lesson you can see how locals dance the tango at the Milonga (dance event).
To give you an impression of the location: dim atmospheric lighting, art on the walls, food and drinks and a band playing beautiful music. People around you are chatting, drinking wine, enjoying their food while others dance tango. Need I say more? I think ‘La Catedral’ is a great and casual place where you can see and experience this beautiful dance.
My first lesson
When I think about the tango, I think about passion, sensual movements, high heals and nice dresses. At ‘La Catedral’ you can wear casual clothes if you like. When I came in I saw a tango lesson in progress, which gave me an impression of the lesson I was about to experience. We started with some exercises (a warming up), followed by learning how to ‘walk the tango’. This basically means that you walk slowly and sensual. Your upper body is held upright and close to your dancing partner, with faces almost touching. The man is guiding the woman and that is pretty difficult (at least for me). I unconsciously wanted to lead while we were dancing. In this moment my teacher said to me to listen to the music en not to think too much about what I was doing. When he told me this it started to get better. Pauses and abrupt directional changes makes it even more important to follow the man who you are dancing with and to listen to the music. You can imagine that you and the other people dancing around you are very concentrated. Everybody have a serieus expression. Chatting and smiling are reserved for the breaks between songs and when you step on the feet of your partner. This means that looking for a dance partner with similar experience is very important at milongas….
There are some rules and signals dancers must follow to find someone in the same level. When you dance with someone and he or she say ‘gracias’ after a song, consider that this partner is unavailable for the rest of the night. The signal to dance, known as cabeceo, involves a quick tilt of the head, eye contact and uplifted eyebrows. This can happen from way across the room. The woman nods yes and smiles or pretends not to have noticed (a rejection). If you are at a Milonga and you don’t want to dance with anyone then don’t look around to much; you could breaking some hearts…
So what is tango about?
You can fall in love with the passion of this dance, the music and the way some dancers completely ‘disappear’ in their dance. It’s a great experience to see and try to feel the music like some great dancers do.