Tango stirs my spirit.
Video of Argentinian tango dancers at La Viruta, a local milonga (dance hall) setting for tango lessons and dancing!
While I’m not a tango dancer, I am a tango lover. I am energized by listening to the music and the vocalists, and watching the dancers weave their bodies in and around one another. I especially love listening to and seeing the bandoneon being played, its melancholic sounds stirring me. I think my love affair with the bandoneon actually began when I was 14 and I studied the accordion. Although that phase of my life only lasted a few years–it was uncool to play the accordion in high school–I always liked the way the instrument felt and sounded. But the bandoneon! That love affair has just begun.
I first saw professional tango in August, 2002 at the famous Confiteria Ideal, a bar-dance hall-restaurant where even today tango classes happen most evenings. My introduction, however, was listening to live music with a beautiful singer, dressed in a long black sequined gown with over-the-elbow white gloves, and wearing a long black feather boa. A sultry passionate performance
welcomed me to this uniquely Argentine musical genre. I was soon to learn that in addition to tango, the dance form and musical genre, is the related “milonga”—itself a musical genre similar to tango and also the name of the place or event where
people dance to both tango and milonga music.
Since that first experience, I’ve seen tango on a big theatrical stage, in the intimate setting of the Alfonsina Salon in the famous
Buenos Aires Café Tortoni, on the streets of the La Boca and San Telmo neighborhoods. I’ve been to tango lessons at the milonga La Viruta, at the Torquato Tasso Café, and I listen to the all-tango radio station whenever my soul longs for tango.
My favorite is electronic tango, a fusion of electronic elements on top of a tango groove. There are a number of groups that have terrific CDs of electronic tango, including Tanghetto, Carlos Libedinsky, Gotan Project, Bajofondo Tango Club or my favorite group, Otros Aires.
I’m inspired every August in Chicago because that’s when tango comes to town! The Sixth International Chicago Tango Fest’s Tango on the Town is set for August 24-28, 2011. Two free events coming up are especially fun to attend. The Tango on the Town Festival features the Argentine group Tangata, in concert at The Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., on Wednesday, August 24 at 8:30 pm. This is a free ticketed event. $5 suggested donation. Chicago SummerDance will also host Tangata on Thursday, August 25th , starting with a tango dance lesson at 6:00 pm, with the group’s classical tango concert to follow.
Visit www.chicagotangofest.com for more details.