I grew up with the tango, never understanding exactly what it was, only that it spoke to me. When I was very young there were a few popular tango songs I loved that almost always were played as campy parodies, you know the rose in the teeth type thing—Hernando’s Hideaway, Jealousy, Kiss of Fire, La Cumparsita. Many Broadway musicals featured a tango number—for example, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Pajama Game, Chicago.
The pianist at my ballet school chose to play tangos for the grand battements at the barre, inspiring me to kick higher and with more passion.
Looking back through the piano sheet music I had collected since a child, there was a plethora of piano solos with names like Mood Indigo, Deep Purple, Blue Fantasy, Blue Moon, Moonlight Mood, Stella by Starlight, Spellbound, Manhattan Moonlight, Moonlight in Vermont, Autumn in New York, Autumn Leaves, Rhapsody in Blue—it was a shock to see them all in a stack covering fifty years of my piano music tastes. Jewish lullabies, Armenian love songs, the second movements of symphonies touched my soul. I must have been a very sad and lonely child.
I later realized that was the tango in me, waiting to be found; each aching diminished or augmented 7th minor modulation in these old pieces expressed my feelings. I was searching for the tango before I even knew what it was. So when I finally found a whole genre of this type of music, and music that I could even dance to, I knew I was home, that I had found my heart beat.
So I was acquainted with tango music and the 2/4 tango rhythm. But Argentine tango dancing ? Until I saw Tango Argentino at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in 1988, I had never seen tango danced. My late husband and I left the theatre, exclaiming, wow, to dance like that!
Years later, when I was a widow and alone, I ran across a flier promoting a series of eight Argentine tango classes. I took the eight lessons, and then went to Buenos Aires in 1997 on a group tango tour.
The rest—my continued visits to the Mecca of tango on short vacations, my move to Mexico and my frustration with tango there, and finally, my permanent move to Buenos Aires in 2003—is history.
Cherie Magnus from USA