A few times, in a few places I’ve mentioned that I’m a tango aficionado. Here’s the whole story behind Greggo dances tango.
I’ve been convinced, or cajoled, into participating in a teacher-student exhibition. I’ve been taking weekly, private classes since August. Now I’ll get to show off.
A No-Dancing Negro
Up until I was 18, I couldn’t dance a lick a nothin’! Up until 15 I didn’t even care. I skirted the 70s hustle phase. But one night when I was 15, I ended up in a salsa club somewhere in the East Bronx. Shazam, it hit me! I wanted to do that!
Still nothing happened for years. I was too shy and too busy doing a lot of other things, in a lot of other places. That’s specifically referring to couples dancing and salsa. In the meantime, I certainly learned to boogie on the dance floor and even spent a couple of years dancing in an amateur modern and jazz dance company.
In the 90s, living in Atlanta, the salsa thing re-emerged. After work one night a bunch of us went to a salsa club. It was a blast and we all said we were going to sign up for the advertised lessons. I was the only one that did.
I drifted into tango because another co-worker couldn’t get the hang of salsa. She found a flyer for an introductory tango class and invited me to be her partner. Her rationale was, Greggo will try this. She was right.
Thus began the flirtatious love affair. But over the years, I’ve not-danced more than I’ve danced. As a result, I’ve never gotten good. Basically, I’ve repeated a beginner’s dance experience year after year, place after place.
By the way, that first partner of mine got bit hard by the bug. She took sabbaticals from the job to live in Argentina and study tango. Currently she’s an instructor living in Washington, DC.
Let me back up a little. I’ve had music in my life from the womb. My mother listened to jazz, vocalists especially. During dinner, we took turns picking the music that would accompany our meal. As a child, I studied the piano and flute, as a young adult, the saxophone.
Because of my mother’s West Indian roots, Calypso and Soca music were heard just as much as jazz, pop and soul.
Salsa Lessons First
I didn’t begin couples dancing until I was an adult living in Atlanta. But after just a few lessons, the steps I was taught connected with the musicology in my DNA and I was dancing like a reborn Latino. Dancing salsa that is.
The tango has always escaped me … as much as it has attracted me. A main element of the dance’s allure is its sensuality. One dances tango plastered against one’s partner, frequently without even knowing the name of the person. I admit, the intimacy that attracts me is the same element that scares me.
The other great difficulty for me is the affinity I don’t completely feel toward the music. Tropical rhythms connect to my roots through my pulses. But instead, tango feels foreign. I struggle to connect with the instrumentation of violins and accordion, continents removed from congas, timbales and claves. I always find myself yearning for more percussion to which I can improvise.
My saving grace, I am beginning to connect to the intense emotions of the songs through the lyrics. Thank goodness I learned Spanish! It’s been a slow process. I’m hoping that December 9 will show my progress.
Greggo’s Tango Teacher
“Jennifer Catalina Marín Palacio is a professional dancer specializing in diverse tropical rhythms and salon dancing. With formation by international and national instructors, “Cata” has worked with principal companies and ensembles both domestically and internationally.
“In addition to dancing Cata is an accountant. She loves to study and enjoys sports. One of her passions is teaching, with love and discipline.”
I can certainly attest to the discipline part of that last paragraph. … Yeah, and of her love of dance too. And though she’s hard on me, I know it’s because she wants me to dance the best I can. Which means I guess I appreciate that discipline.
The pressure is really on for me to not make my beautiful professor look bad. That plus I do want her to be proud of her student.
Where Greggo Dances Tango
A Puro Tango is a dance school I stumbled into when I first got to Medellin. I took occasional group classes there, continuing my pattern of dancing sporadically.
It’s a dance academy that teaches all rhythms, but as a cultural organization specializes in tango. It was established in 2002 and since then has grown to become a world-known center for the dissemination of all things tango. The A Puro Tango dance company travels the world as tango ambassador. The center in Medellín hosts world-class tango events.
By the way, in Tango circles, Medellín is known as the Buenos Aires of Colombia.
When Greggo’s Showing off His Tango
Tango Student Festival: Wings of Tango
Location: A Puro Tango
Address: Calle 44, #65-41
Date & Time: Saturday, December 9th; 8:00 pm
Cost: $25,000 cop in advance; $30,000 cop at the door
For more information call: +57-300-675-9168 or +57-034-260-4906
Anybody who’s gonna be in the neighborhood is invited to attend. A good time will be had by all. Well, all expect me. I’ll be way too nervous!
After December 9th, I should be able to focus on writing again.
There’s a lot more to tell … on Colombia
For the end to the story click here.