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Tango Conmigo

September 21, 2016
by Dominique Cornacchia
When people think about Argentina usually the first thing that comes to mind is the Argentine Tango. Well, last week I had the opportunity to both see a tango show and actually learn how to tango myself! One of the CEA staff members brought us to a small café in the Recoleta barrio. We walked down the stairs to find a few tables and a large dance floor. Other students from the University of Belgrano joined us as well as a few porteños (people from Buenos Aires).
 Our teacher teaches the boys the
eight basic steps steps of the tango.

At first, our teacher wanted us to get a feel for the tango; what it looks like, what it feels like, and how do I move to the beat? We walked the room just listening to the tango while feeling the pulse of the music. She then taught us the eight basic steps of the tango: first the boys, then mirrored by the girls.
 The boys and the girls put their steps together and began to dance the Tango in pairs.

Then came the fun part: pairing up and putting what we learned to work! Our teacher split us into few groups, and everyone had to tango back and forth across the room. All of us stumbled around a bit, but then we started to get into the groove of things (some quicker than others). You’d think that just eight steps would be simple enough to get the hang of in a few minutes, but seeing as I have two left feet, it wasn’t as easy as our teacher made it look! Nevertheless, it was incredibly fun. Although it was slow at first, we kept getting better and better. Each time a new song came on I wanted to grab my partner and keep dancing and learning until we looked effortless, but that would probably take more than just one class. Instead, we decided to take a seat and let the real pros show us how it was done.
 Our tango teacher dances with her partner to show us how the tango is really done.
 This is what a traditional cup of mate usually looks like. It tends to be a bitter drink, so some people add sugar to the hot water (but you'd probably never catch a porteño doing that).

We sat down at one of the tables and shared a cup of mate, another staple of Argentina. Mate, also known as yerba mate, is a traditional hot tea drink that porteños like to share with friends in the morning at breakfast or later into the evening after a long day of work. A cup is filled to the top with mate while hot water is poured on top to soak the leaves and bring out the flavor. The cup with the iconic silver straw is then passed around and enjoyed by others at the table.

As the cup was passed around, we watched our teacher improvise a tango with her partner. They spun around the room with such ease, it was hard for me to believe that each step was improvised! Learning how to tango and having the opportunity to watch professionals dance in person has been one of my greatest experiences here in Argentina so far. Maybe one day I’ll get good enough at dancing the tango that I'll be able to stop staring down at my own feet!

 Here is a picture of me dancing the tango. Probably laughing because I'm tripping over my own feet!

Dominique C. is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently a junior studying Broadcast Media Production at Champlain College.

Dominique Cornacchia is the Fall 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and is currently studying at Champlain College.
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