Dancing the tango in the cathedral

How can you be in Buenos Aires, love photography and not want to capture the moves of some tango dancers? If there was one image I wanted from that city, it was that one.

A tribute to tango in Palermo
A tribute to tango in Palermo

Though I have to admit I didn’t quite put my best organisation skills into the pursuit of this shot. Instead of going to San Telmo on a Saturday afternoon, which would be the right thing to do to see some tango acts, I settled for going to one of Buenos Aires’ numerous clubs, where foreigners as well as Porteños go to practice their steps. Following the advice of Maddieke, a Dutch girl I had met a few days before, I headed off to La Catedral, equipped with my camera and the firm intention not to leave without at least a few good images. As I stepped into the place, I directly fell in love with it. The scenery was perfect. The place looked like an old theater, cloths hanging from the ceiling, vintage tables and chairs, old photos on the wall…

But I soon got disenchanted. The light was too low and the group occupying the dance floor were all beginners. No beautiful dresses and shoes. No grace in the movements. Not keen on giving up so easily on my mission of the evening, I did have a few tries but quickly went to sit down at a table, resigned. Today was not the day for tango pictures. Instead, I would drink my sorrow away.

La Catedral
La Catedral

As I sat there sipping my red wine with an unhappy look on my face and discouraged attitude, eyes still firmly fixed on the dance floor, almost hypnotised, it is a wonder why anyone would have wanted to approach me. Nonetheless, there stood a man, asking me if I wanted to dance. I instantly changed my expression and put a smile on my face: “Sorry, but I can’t dance the tango.” “I can teach you if you like” was his answer.

Generally, when I hear some good music, I enjoy nothing more than jump on my feet and dance the night away. But, although I’ve always dreamed about being able to dance the tango, when the dancing involves coordination with another person, I’m always worried about stepping on his feet at one point. Nevertheless, this was a great opportunity to turn an unsuccessful evening into a more positive experience. So I accepted and, for the next 30 minutes, squeezed the gentleman’s feet half a dozen times, which I consider to be a pretty decent score. The important thing is that it made me want to learn more, hopefully when I’m back in Buenos Aires. Or in Brussels, for that matter.


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