The first time my wife and I got in touch with tango was when we still danced Ballroom. A colleague of my wife told my wife that she was learning tango, and that it was fun. We went to see her during class, and our first impression was: “What a mess!”. People were dancing without music, without structure, without following the timing … Our first impression was not a good one. We decided to leave it for what it was, and got on with our ballroom.
Some months later there was an event in Ghent, during a festival. In an old mirror-tent several couples were all dressed up, dancing very intimate, milonguero, and yes, following the timing, but still showing a lot of freedom in expression. That’s when we fell in love.
In the school where we were learning ballroom, they decided to start a small course in tango. We immediately signed up. 5 lessons of tango, and we were ready! Unbelievable how easy that was … Until we decided to try our knowledge and newly learned skills on a big event in Antwerp, the Noche de la Passion. One of the things we were not capable of was going round the floor. We only learned some very complex figures, but all on the same spot! We laughed a lot about ourselves, but at the same time we saw what it was supposed to be …
From that moment on we switched to some decent courses. We started a first grade course, we again started our first grade course, second grade, third grade, two courses per week, and since then we never stopped taking classes … for the past 8 years now! We are still very grateful of all the things our second teacher taught us. He told us that tango isn’t that difficult at all. Keep it simple, keep it fun, and just dance. Our passion for tango has since then not faded.
One thing I want to add is how I got to become the webmaster for tango.be. At the time it was Rita Huyghe that ran this website. In our early days, we were wondering how to find tango events, since we realized that it was a closed community. After a while we found the website Tango.be, a huge agenda of all tango events in Belgium. As a pure coincidence, I met Rita in a completely different way. She has bad hearing, and organized some tango-events for deaf people. As I am into music as well, I re-mixed some tango classics, so that a lot of distinctive bass was included. This way, the deaf people could “feel” the music by following the bass. After a while I learned that Rita also ran Tango.be. She was looking for a remake of the website, with some complexity added to it. We met up, I suggested some improvements, and before we knew it a totally new edition of Tango.be was launched. Rita is still highly involved in Tango.be, and currently we are setting up Ababa.be, which is more or less a dictionary for audio-impaired people.
One last thing: the reason I decided to write this story is because in my opinion you hit the nail on the head. Tango is indeed about passion, but in my humble opinion not as such about sexual passion, as many people like to think. It is more passion for the music, passion for the dance itself, loosing yourself and not thinking about anything that is going on. The fact that you have all the freedom in the world to improvise, that there are almost no rules, only contributes to this feeling. And on top of that, the music is great … sometimes sad, sometimes melancholic, sometimes funny, so when played in a good sequence it almost feels like a movie that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.
Tom Van Wint from Belgium