I discovered tango in 2002, when I visited Buenos Aires for the first time. After one class and frequent visits to milongas (tango salons), I knew I just had to learn this complex dance. The moment I returned to New York, I signed up for an intense course.
I learned the steps slowly, tripped over many men’s feet, nearly fell flat on my face probably a hundred times, kept on taking the lead while I really should have been following… It was a typical journey of a tango novice without any dance background, and a control freak to boot.
I went back to Buenos Aires once more a couple of years later to research a feature story about tango for a now defunct magazine. That second visit rekindled my passion. Then in winter 2007, I moved to Buenos Aires for three months. I was so head over heels with the music and the dance that I had to immerse myself. And so I did.
In Buenos Aires – tango central – I took private classes almost daily, went to milongas several times per week and bought no less than four pairs of tango shoes.
Then I returned to New York and continued to dance for another couple of years. I was so hooked that I always traveled with a pair of tango shoes. The idea was that I’d go to a milonga in every city I happened to be in, wherever there was a tango scene of any size. So – in addition to Buenos Aires and New York – I danced in Zagreb, Lisbon, Copenhagen, London, Berlin and Madrid.
Three years ago, quite suddenly, I stopped. It was partly because life got too busy plus I started traveling more than ever plus I had a boyfriend (now husband) who didn’t dance tango (and still doesn’t).
But all this time, with varying degrees of intensity, I missed it. That became crystal clear to me on a recent summer night, in eastern Croatia’s town of Osijek, when I heard tango on loudspeakers coming from a city park. I literally dragged my husband across dark fields, only to reach a stage set up for a festival where an orchestra was finishing up a tango set. Oh, well… I harbored secret fantasies of an impromptu milonga in the park, even though – alas! – I didn’t have my shoes.
That’s when it dawned on me. I missed tango. Really missed it. So just last week, I pulled out my favorite tango shoes from somewhere in the depths of my closet, brushed off the dust and signed up for a weekly class at my original tango studio in Manhattan, Triangulo.
Once upon a time, when I just started learning tango, this was the coolest space in town, on the first floor of a triangular corner building in the Meatpacking District. But as it happens to so many great spaces in New York, rising rent pushed the studio owner out and into new digs, this time in Chelsea.
And there I was, back at Triangulo, ten years since my first close encounter with tango. During the first class, the partner I teamed up with stepped on my foot several times while we tried to perform a pretty complicated series of steps. I walked away that evening with a small cut on my left foot – by now healed – tired but feeling elated.
Just the sound of the music and the few short but fluid dance sequences was enough to remind me of the power tango once had over me. It would seem it still does. Like an old romance you can’t quite shake off….