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 teacher.
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.
While I was
there I fell in love with the tango...
is in the air, everywhere...
We 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
'the man must always invite the woman to dance. And the
woman should never say no.'
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 ...