Andrea Gourgy is a freelance writer and editor based
in Montreal, Canada. She holds an M.A. in journalism
and her work has been featured in publications such
as the Long Beach Press Telegram, The Daily Breeze,
Angeleno Magazine and Chicago Social. Andrea fills
us in on the art of tango in Argentina. She writes...
I headed south to Buenos Aires with two female relatives,
all in our 20s, we were very nervous about our safety
in a city of 12 million people in the throes of an
economic crisis. Before leaving Canada, we signed
up for a Spanish-language school that helped us settle
into a studio apartment in a Buenos Aires suburb and
assigned us to Claudia, an overpriced, mediocre tango
of us tired of Spanish grammar and Claudia within
a short period of time and decided to go solo. We
found a new apartment and then tracked down a wonderful
tango teacher by scanning newspaper ads and posters
on subway walls. We were really surprised at how easy
it seemed and how secure we felt in a city in the
midst of a crisis. Luckily we never got into any real
trouble though we did take extra care and never took
our security for granted.
I was there I fell in love with the tango...
is in the air, everywhere...
were positioned cheek-to-cheek on a Buenos Aires
dance floor. My eyes were closed, my arms wrapped
tightly around his neck as I followed his every
delicate movement almost instinctively. After a
six-week extended stay in Buenos Aires, it wasn't
until this evening, my very last evening in the
city, until I met Paulo, that is, that I finally
understood the tango.
a dance that was born of immigrants in the city slums,
is now in the air all over the capital: the music
blares from restaurants and canteens and one can see
couples performing expertly in the streets. I had
never even heard a tango melody when I decided I would
travel to Buenos Aires to learn the 19th century dance.
After a 25-hour journey south from Canada, I finally
made it to the dance studio where I would spend the
bulk of my trip.
he just nod at me?
a world-renowned tango dancer and teacher, sat across
from me on a worn couch in her downtown Buenos Aires
studio. 'First, you must learn the rules of the
dance,' she told me as she took a sip of Mate (typical
Argentinean tea) from a large silver thermos. 'First
and most importantly,' she continued,
'the man must always invite the woman to dance.
And the woman should never say no.'
lean, dark-haired woman, Claudia was obviously seasoned
by years of late nights and shady men in the tango
scene; she looked significantly older than her chronological
age of 34. She proceeded to explain the following
rigid, but essential tango protocol: (1) A man makes
eye contact with a woman and nods ever so subtly
to indicate that he would like to dance with her.
(2) The woman then nods in assent. (3) The two get
up to meet on the dance floor.
men have very fragile egos and, according to Claudia,
if you turn down even one potential dance partner,
no others will risk your rejection. Should the woman
not wish to dance with the man who is nodding to
her, the events should proceed as such: (1) A man
makes eye contact with a woman and nods ever so
subtly to indicate that he would like to dance with
her. (2) She pretends not to notice.
She falls in love ...