Buenos Aires, Argentina – La Viruta Tango
The more I saw people tango dancing, the more I wanted to learn. After doing some research, I contacted a few places, and decided on La Viruta Tango. They had a class that fit my schedule and for the right price; only about $7 USD! So I threw on some shoes, grabbed my husband, then grabbed a taxi, and we were off for some dancing.
We arrived right on time for class, but in true mañana style, the class began 15 minutes late. In the hall a variety of dancers ranging from beginners through advanced waited for the instructors. The level split was quite obvious by the way the participants dressed. The advanced dancers all had traditional tango shoes and were dressed very sharply. The beginners were the easiest to pick out. None of us had the proper shoes and most of us where dressed very casually. As for the intermediate crowd, they were somewhere in between. All together there were about 50 students eager to learn tango.
The class began when the DJ played the first song. Our instructors, six in total, danced for a few bars and then welcomed us. There must have been quite a few English speaking people in the class because the instructor who greeted us spoke in Spanish and then would immediately translate to English. Soon he spread us into a circle and lead a group warm-up to get the blood flowing. It consisted of a few steps that moved us forwards, backwards, and side to side. Then we were split up according to level.
I was so intrigued of how they taught the class. It was perfect for my learning style, and it seemed like the best way to teach beginners. First, the instructors would show the movement. Then they would repeat it again two times but quite slow. The female instructor would explain her execution first. On the second slow repetition, the male instructor would share his movement. Following their demonstration, we would split up into two parallel lines. Men on one side and the women on the other. Then we slowly tried to mimic their foot work. Just like before, the female would chat about her steps and the male about his. However, this time we were moving as they where talking. Once we sort of knew what we were doing, they paired us up. When we felt somewhat comfortable, they would tell us to switch partners.
Dan was such a good sport, and I love dancing with him, but I think I was a little too teacher like… Let’s just say I like to controlling the movement. He was getting frustrated with me because I just wanted to move to the rhythm whether his feet were ready or not. Funny enough, the instructor noticed it too. He said, “You are trained dancer.” Understanding both of our annoyances, he gave us each a correction to help. Although I just wanted to dance with Dan, it was good for me to switch partners. I think I was a little less bossy with the strangers. Eventually, I learned that if I just closed my eyes, shut my mouth, and let Dan move me, we made way more progress. Hmm… I wonder if other “trained” dancers have the same controlling issues as I have when learning social dances.
During the class, we learned about five variations of steps in the same way. Watching, listening, trying alone, trying with a partner, and then switching partners. Like I said before, it was very effective; perfect for most learning styles. Just when our brains began to feel fried, class was over. However, they did allow us to stay a bit longer to practice before the next class was due to arrive.
It turns out that my $7 tango class was my best souvenir from Argentina! Dan and I had such a good time learning tango that we’ve decided to keep learning. Until we get home, we’re going to watch some Youtube videos in hopes of keeping it fresh in our minds, and I think I found an app that looks pretty interesting too. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Looking to invest into some fabulous tango shoes,
The Offbeat Ballerina
P.S. Next stop Brazil