Being British, means that I have something in my genes which makes me go into some kind of spasm whenever I hear music as I attempt to impress people with my ‘moves’. Based on this life long struggle with rhythm, I thought I would take my first tango class in Buenos Aires and it really wasn’t the painful embarrassing musical torture that I thought it would be. In fact, it was fantastic!
The place where I popped my dance class virginity was La Viruta, a sizeable dance hall with great atmosphere and a decent bar and restaurant. For my 20 pesos, I got an evening starting with salsa, then spinning into milonga (it’s a type of tango that dances to faster paced music) and later twisting into tango. If you wanted, you could have danced the night away till the early hours of the morning.
As a hopeless duck footed beginner, it was obviously intimidating to see the experts effortlessly floated around the dance floor, but learning the first steps was not too hard. Starting without a partner, standing in a line, you followed the teacher learning a set of six simple steps, you later just repeated them with a partner in front of you, and then you were really dancing!
As well as being a fun way of learning how to move, it was an unusual and intimate way of meeting new people. Instead of the usual hand shake or formal kiss on the cheek, you embraced strangers of the opposite sex, making small talk as you ambled around a dance hall counting one to six in your head. I found the hardest thing was not to collide with my fellow partners as I steered the poor girls whilst counting steps and trying to look like I knew what I was doing. It was great to feel how easy it was to get started and learned the basic steps even for a rhythmically challenged Englishman like myself, the funny thing was that it did take some of the mystery away from watching the once completely mystifying professionals.
If you are in Buenos Aires and as of yet haven’t been to a dance class, then stop making excuses, try something new and just go! If the 78-year-old man with a false hip that I saw can move like he’s 20, then anyone can do it too. It’s just a question of practice. There are an endless number of places in Buenos Aires where you can begin to learn, so whether you go alone or with friends, I assure you that it will be a great experience.