Last night was my friend Kristine's final night in Argentina, and we tried to send her off the right way. In the hostel she was staying in free Tango lessons were offered, and since I had been over there so many times recently and the staff was so friendly, they let me participate as well. Starting late (of course) after 10 pm, 6 people plus the teacher stood around a small room upstairs, which in the mornings serves as the breakfast nook.
The lesson started out with some relaxing exercise, just walking around in a circle in different speeds, trying to think about how you walk. The next phase was trying to move in a rhythm to the music while walking. Tango is all about feeling the music and moving with the beat, but you're basically always walking in one way or another. Differing from Salsa or Merengue, you don't really move your hips much or do many steps. That made it pretty confusing for me once we finally got a partner and I was basically dancing Salsa. It became necessary to try to forget all of the Salsa I had learned in the year spent in Ecuador. Tango isn't even that popular really. It's not like in Ecuador or Colombia where everyone dances Salsa and it's important to do the same. Only about 10% of Argentinians dance Tango.
Changing partners and getting a bit more advanced throughout the hour lesson, we also heard different styles of Tango music. It was a bit hard for me to hear the beats that we were supposed to move to, especially since you could just make it up yourself as you wanted. You also had to be mindful of the other dancers, who also didn't exactly know what they were doing. One of the hardest parts was simply getting the partner to follow your lead. In Tango, the partner has to totally trust the leader, and if they don't they will start to make their own movements and both dancers will be off step. This happened to me several times, but then again, my own movements were often off the mark.
Once the hour was up, we went along with the instructor to a Milonga, or Tango dance hall. There you can choose to dance it up if you want or simply sit in the back and watch or talk with friends. I had no intention of trying to dance, so I just sat and watched for a bit, also talking with other guests from the hostel and the instructor. It was soon past 1 am and Kristine and I were tired. She had to wake up early to catch her flight back to Ecuador, so we headed out. Now Kristine is gone and I'm on my own again. But on Monday I'll be starting my new job and keeping plenty busy. But in all of the activities that I do, I really don't think I'll be doing all that much Tango dancing. I'll leave that to the professionals.