Although I’m a bit hazy about exact dates, it was approximately 4 years ago that I took my very 1st private Tango lesson with Nati & Bruno’s Tanguito Tango Academy in London. Since moving to Oxfordshire I occasionally still attend their lessons & workshops, but until now I’d never really felt confident to attend one of their milongas as in Tango years, I am still just a beginner, however, when I contacted Nati about the sponsored Tangothon and she informed me that they were holding a ‘Winter Ball’ , which would include a live performance by the London Tango Orchestra (LTO) as well as workshop on the Bandoneon, I felt that ‘Va va Vooom’ feeling !! Nerves or no nerves – Somehow I would have to go The Winter Ball of the year !
Sunday couldn’t come fast enough, however, on the day in question I had a mini family crisis which required urgent attention . So as usual I was running around town and arrived late for the pre-milonga class as I got stuck in London traffic. This meant that I wasn’t quite in the calm , relaxed state of mind required for Tango. Although Tango is often considered as quite an energetic , passionate, dance, especially the kind of Tango you watch on’Strictly’, however, in reality it also requires a great degree of ‘inner stillness’ and a relaxed mind to feel that magical connection both to your partner as well as to the music, and that is often difficult to achieve if your mind is all over the place, especially on a packed dance floor where you’re surrounded by hundreds of other couples struggling to find a nice space to play in.
As I’d I arrived fairly late and didn’t want to disturb the class by attracting attention to myself and my bunch of balloons, initially I just hung around outside the door like a lemon, preparing myself mentally before building up the courage to go in. Many people don’t know this but I’m actually an introvert and don’t usually enjoy being the centre of attention. However, once I managed to get my foot through the front door and was greeted by the friendly smiles of Bruno & Nati who were very welcoming, I knew it was all going to be okay. I also spotted a lovely lady called Sue , who I’d seen at the previous night’s milonga , who had traveled all the way from Surrey to Islington. As there were no ‘spare men’ available in the class, being a gentleman I got my Tango shoes on sharpish and jumped in, which was great fun as Sue and I ended up having some really fantastic dances together.
Despite my initial reservations, the whole evening was a wonderful, beautiful blur. For the first time I got to hear and see a Bandoneon close up. For anyone who hasn’t seen a Bandoneon, here’s a fine sample of the beautifully crafted instrument, which for me provides that uniquely haunting and intoxicating flavour in Tango. If you want to get the full richness of the Bandoneon experience, I suggest you listen to some tracks by one of my favourite composers, the Maestro himself, Astor Piazolla, who once admitted during an interview that you had to be slightly crazy to take up this instrument. I suspect he was right, but what a fantastic madness to have.
So, we all huddled around and sat in a circle , like little school children , as we listened to a wonderful presentation by the knowledgeable and charismatic Eva Berg (pictured below), who showed us the various facets of this bellowing instrument , both inside and out , and when she played it I couldn’t resist closing my eyes to enjoy the wonderful melodies that came flowing because I was lost in a state of total intoxication. I can’t really explain it but it was simply ‘Tangotastic ‘ !!
Before the main milonga began, Bruno very kindly introduced me on stage and allowed me to say a few words about ‘Tangoing to Argentina in 80 days’ . I was there to dance and dance I did till the sweat was pouring off me. After a number of sets the LTO finally relented to one last cry of ‘altro’ . By the end of the night, some people simply didn’t want to stop . I can still hear Bruno’s voice calling out ‘ C’mon people , you’ve been dancing for 7 hours now – go home !’
After an evening of many lovely dances, I finally said good bye to Nati & Bruno as I left the hall with an incredibly beautiful ‘Lady in Blue’ , who danced with sensitivity, style and elegance and was extremely patient with me despite my poor leading. As a bonus I also got lots of helpful tips about Argentina. Perhaps one day when my Tango technique improves , I may even have to courage to ask her for another dance 😉
Next stop: Paris !!