Having trolled through a gezillion Tango clubs in and around Paris as advertised on the Tango-argentin.fr website, I finally decided to attend the following 3 milongas:
Milonga no 4: ‘Déj La Défense’
(Centre Commerciale Les 4 Temps, La Defense)
This is a lovely little, free, informal milonga which takes place on Friday lunch times in a shopping centre situated at La Defense (the business district of Paris). I’m really glad I picked this as my first milonga in Paris, because the Parisienne ladies, who were very kind and definitely not backwards in coming forwards, offered me lots of lovely dances, and Enrique Gago, a Tango teacher from Venezuala who facilitates the weekly sessions, played some really great music.
Milonga no 5: ‘La Cantina Meal’onga’
( Salle Saint-Bruno, 9 Rue Saint-Bruno, Paris)
Having strolled through some pretty dodgy looking streets to find this milonga , I was very pleasantly surprised to find the venue was a beautiful hall, which from the high ceilings and stained glass arched windows suggests that it may have been a chapel at some point. It was a very friendly and civilized milonga as everyone seemed to either make eye contact, nod, or said ‘Bonsoir’ as I walked in. There was food laid on, as it appears that the host is also a Chef by profession. Although the hall initially seemed small, there was plenty of space to dance and a nice combination of golden age tracks including Tango, Vals and Milongas. I particularly enjoyed watching some really great dancers, who danced with grace, flair and humour, which was fun and I also managed to dance with a few different partners, including a very lovely ‘Lady in Green’, who seemed particularly happy to dance cheek to cheek. Not that I was complaining of course. It was also a real pleasure to meet the hosts, Anne & DJ Hayysam , who seemed to be very genuinely caring individuals and loved by all I met.
Milonga no 6: ‘Tango Flottant’
(hosted by: Ezequiel Romero Diaz, Flor Nocturna)
(Abricadabra – Peniche L’Antipode , 55 Quai de la Seine, Bassin de Villete)
Of all the Tango groups I contacted to be part of the ‘Tangoing to Argentina in 80 days for Parkinson’s UK’ , Ezequiel , the Tango teacher of The Flor Nocturna group, was the only one who got back in touch and invited me to attend, which was very generous of him and deserves a special mention.
As I approached the multi-coloured lit boat, I recalled the last time that I had danced here. By chance, many years ago my ex-girlfriend Mathilde and I met up for dinner one Valentine’s night. At the time, awe hadn’t dated for about twenty odd years, but we had this pact that whenever we were both single on Valentine’s day, we would meet up. For me it was a nostalgic fantasy associated with our first ‘summer of love’, a time when we were both very young and crazily in love . Before our ‘SOL’ we had only met once before one fateful night when I worked in a pub in London. Alas, Mathilde had to return to France the very next day but we agreed to meet up in Paris 6 months later to celebrate Bastille day (‘le quatorze juillet’ as its known to the French). I will never forget that amazing summer in Paris. We were so engrossed with each other and Parisiens sometimes referred to us as ‘Les amoureuse’, as is their custom, which was kind of cute in an embarrassing kind of way.
Anyway, one particular night after our Valentine’s ‘reunion’ dinner we were promenading by La Seine and came across L’Antipode (as it was known then) and decided to explore the intriguing music being played, which we later discovered to be a fusion of ‘Ska Jazz’ . For the very first time ever since we had met all those years ago, Mathilde and I had our first dance together and yet we were completely in sync and it felt like pure magic . Afterwards we just smiled at each other stunned, wondering why we had never danced together before. Anyway , that’s a whole different story. So here I was on that very same boat, about to dance Tango with a bunch of people I’d never met before. How crazy is that ?? C’est increable !
I cautiously made my way down to the underbelly of the boat, and kept checking to see whether it was the same boat I remembered as it all seemed very different. However, as they French would say, ‘Tout change’ ( everything changes). I entered through the curtained off area and found El Ezequiel, who casually dressed in a white linen shirt , jeans and trainers with his hair tied in a knot, was unlike any of the other Tango teachers I had ever come across before. As there weren’t enough ladies to pair up with, I was invited to join in the class and offered to be a ‘follower’. They say that any good leader should learn what it feels like to follow . Interestingly, from the little I’ve read about the ‘golden age of tango’, in the beginning men only practiced with men and learnt how to follow before they were allowed to lead , or before they even got the opportunity to dance with a woman. If a man had the misfortune to dance badly at a milonga, he would be banished back to practicing with other men until he improved and only then would be given another chance.
So back to the Milonga, it turned out that ‘Lets go Ezequiel’, as I secretly nicknamed him because after introducing each step in French he would suddenly say ‘lets go’ very enthusiastically to prompt people to get going, is actually from Bolivia. El Ezequiel was extremely playful, light on his feet and exuded both sensitivity and energy, which all the ladies as well as one particular gent I saw him dance with, who seemed to cling onto him as if his life depended on it, definitely appeared to enjoy. The crowd seemed to have more of an international feel to it and I danced with some really lovely ladies from South America, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland as well as France of course, all of whom danced with their own individual styles.
After the raffle at midnight, my blue & white Parkinson’s balloons and I disembarked from th magical boat which time had forgotten. I left in the hope that the Metro would be less crowded than on the way there. For anyone who’s ever tried getting on a crowded train with a bunch of non-helium balloons, which don’t float up, you will understand. It certainly makes for good conversation with a bunch of complete strangers !
Hopefully this will not be my #lasttangoinparis.
Au revoir Paris.
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