Skip to content

Dancing Lessons. Or Tango, Buenos Aires.

February 1, 2008

Anyone who has watched “So You Think You Can Dance,” and “Dancing with the Stars,” can see how difficult it is to make dancing look easy. Like any dance, sport or creative pursuit that’s been perfected, it has the look of simplicity; a craft that seems to have been easily mastered, happened almost overnight; the truth, of course, is just the opposite. Every movement fine tuned to its essence requires practice, practice, practice. I think there has to be some natural proclivity to whatever creative “endeavor” – physical or not – one is involved in; not that I believe innate talent is the be all and end all, but it can certainly help – although not always. Case in point: someone I once knew very well who started and taught at art schools told me that on many occasions he had students who entered art school with “star talent,” but who often soared only for a brief moment then fizzled out. On the other hand he also saw mediocre students with intense motivation who became good at their “craft,” even excelled and didn’t peter out.

Although a little deficient where innate dancing “talent” is concerned, N and I have been taking dancing lessons on and off for almost a year. We started with a group session in Argentinean Tango at a local college and somehow kept starting the same tango lessons over and over; at least four times. It wasn’t that the instruction was bad, on the contrary it was excellent, but group learning is not our forte. I discovered that one on one instruction and being “fine tuned” or corrected every step of the way for a dance that complex, is a sine qua non for understanding (and remembering) what the heck I did five minutes earlier.

After numerous starts, I was starting to feel like a complete idiot, forgetting that prior to meeting N, I had taken Tango American style, rumba, cha cha and waltz doing quite well, then along came Argentinean Tango and I became the equivalent “foot-wise” of a tongue-tied clod. N and I didn’t seem to remember from week to week what we had learned the week before. We had no muscle memory of that dance to fall back on and with the intricate staccato movements; of legs kicks twisting in and out of each other’s like entwined serpents, we spent a lot of the time laughing and rubbing the bruises we were accumulating. It was also disconcerting to notice that our class mates progressed onto the intermediate class, while we ended up staying in the beginners’ and greeting each new batch of students, more than once. For a brief shining moment (one lesson’s worth) we appeared to be the couple who caught on fast; were so talented, so supple, and so adept obviously knowing far more than they. One week later we were always found out; we were only Argentinean Tango wannabes.

I’ve mentioned on occasion that N is an ardent fly-fisherman who takes off once in a while to follow his bliss; in the course of doing so he endeavors to placate me (and succeeds) – this non-fly-fishing person – by first stopping off at a fabulous non-fly-fishing locale before continuing the journey to one of his remote fly-fishing destinations. The logical stop for him (or rather for us), tripping over each other’s Argentinean Tango-ing feet, was to go to the source…….Argentina. Oh, how I protested; not. However, not only to travel to the source of that sumptuous looking dance, but to stay at a Tango Hotel; a very small hotel that had once been a Tango Academy; there we would have private, one on one, only us not a group lesson with other participants far better at Tango-ing than we, every day we were to be in Buenos Aires.

When we arrived in that city and the taxi cab pulled up outside our hotel, I thought N had made an awful mistake and almost didn’t get out of the car; across the narrow street from our hotel were boarded up windows and doors covered in graffiti. We were in the thick of it; an area that is now being cleaned up and brought back to its former “niceness” and originality.

Inside the Tango Hotel.

Splendor would be too “big” a word as this had once been a more ordinary neighborhood with a few small hotels, residencies, grocery shops and restaurants. Everything compact. Our hotel was a little gem by comparison with the rest of the street; our dance academy with its 18 foot ceilings, three ballrooms, dining room, small swimming pool on the roof and about 20 bedrooms felt like our own little universe. How sophisticated, how delightful and probably our last chance at learning how to dance the Argentinean Tango.

Photos courtesy N.

Copyright © 2008

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jerald permalink
    April 4, 2008 2:54 am

    Nice post! Interesting pictures as well. We have followed a similar Tango path and are now in the planning stages of a trip to Buenos Aires. I am intrigued by the description of the hotel. To date our best prospect is the Mansion Dandi Royal. I have read mixed reviews. Where did you stay?



  2. islandlass permalink*
    April 4, 2008 1:38 pm

    That’s the place. It was very nice; small, quirky with a distinctly Buenos Aires flavor.


  1. » Blog Archive » Dancing Lessons. Or Tango; Buenos Aires.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s