I learned to tango like Tom&Jerry, following dotted lines and shapes of feet that danced on the TV screen following the tango rhythm.
I would have preferred to learn to dance through a different method. But unfortunately, the chubby and badly dressed woman from one of those “teach yourself” videos, was the only one available to teach us in an old house in Fort Worth, Texas, the capital of country music.
Neither the place, nor the teachers were ideal to learn to tango. But I had no way out. My friends wanted me to represent Argentina by dancing tango at the 2005 International Banquet at Texas Christian University.
My Colombian friend Mauricio Oliveros and me, put a lot of effort and dedication, to learn how to do the “ochos” and the turns. We practiced over and over again, playing the videos in slow motion so we could take a good look at each move. After a couple of weeks, we had “learned” to tango, or so we thought, and we presented our show at the Banquet.
Our public, with little knowledge about tango, warmly applauded the show and our effort. Even though at that moment I was satisfied because I had shared a little of my culture with the audience, I also knew I had indebted myself with my roots: at some point I needed to learn how to really tango.
Consequently, when I reached Buenos Aires, I signed up at the first milonga I heard about; it was my opportunity to pay off my debt and corroborate how much I had actually learned from those videos.
With a different partner, but the same enthusiasm and eagerness to learn, I put on my dancing shoes and went to La Viruta at the Club Armenio located in Palermo. When we arrived, the place appeared to be empty, but as soon as we heard the first harmony of a tango, the dancers took hold of the floor.
There were so many people on the dancing floor that it was difficult to dance more than three seconds without bumping into someone. On top of that, as beginners we were too busy looking at our feet to pay attention to the other dancers.
We were like wheel-less bumping cars lost in a fun and chaotic, yet tolerant place.
After dancing for about two hours, I think I made the first payment to settle my debt. Although I will need to take many more classes to be able to settle my debt completely. But at the same time I must admit the “teach yourself” videos gave me a strong base that will enable me to learn quickly.
Additional information: Where to tango in Argentina