Tango — A lifelong experience

Tango legs
By dark_mephi via Flickr

In one of my Argentine tango classes I saw a documentary, “Susana Tango Pial”, directed by Carlos Pico and Sandro Nunziata. See its trailer. The film profiles a famous old milonga in Buenos Aires where a group of primarily senior citizen “milongueros” (tango dancers) gather every week to tango, as they have for many years. The film includes many interviews with the dancers. At some point, an old man who has returned to dancing tango after years says:

“Tango enters you through your eyes and goes through your heart. But once it reaches your feet, it stays with you for ever.”

I immediately took out a pen and paper and scribbled the statement in the dark of the theater. But there was no need for that. That statement had already entered me through my eyes (subtitle) and had gone to my heart. And it will stay with me for ever.

Besides the dance,  Tango music is also a significant part of the tango experience. So even if you don’t tango, you can still enjoy and appreciate the beauty and soulfulness of its music. I particularly like the melodic sound of bandoneon (a type of accordions), one of the key instruments in tango music. Tango music and dance has an interesting 150 year old history, from its starts in the suburbs of Buenos Aires in late 19th century. You can read up on it here.

Tango is a classy, sensual, melancholic, seductive and very intimate dance that one can enjoy at different levels. Besides the beauty of this dance form and music, it is also notable that tango can be a lifelong experience. There are not very many dances that people in their 70s or 80s can perform. But as evident from this documentary, you can pretty much tango as long as you can walk. Sadly, by the time this film was completed, a number of people in the film had passed away.

If you are a tango dancer, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t tried it before, you might want to give it a try. May tango reach your feet and stay with you for a lifelong!

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