photo by Alvaro Ferrari
You've been tango'd
plenty of place cater to tango addicts
The ‘Argentinean tango’ first appeared during the Forties, but did not find its way to Europe until 20 years ago. Jimmy Rey, an Argentinean, was the first person to establish a tango school in Barcelona. Along with Toni Barber, the director of Tango Gotán in Il Café de las Artes, Rey currently organises a milonga (tango salon dance) at the café every Wednesday night.
“Many say that Paris is the second capital of tango, but I believe that the order is Buenos Aires first, Montevideo second and Barcelona third,” said Rey. ‘‘In Argentina, in the Seventies, because of all the political problems, tango had sort of been lost, but the dance began to appear in other places around the world.”
Today, tango continues to be danced in many countries. The leading man and gracefully following woman make it a playful dance of balance and synchronised moves. There are many teachers in Barcelona, and they organise different milongas around the city. “In Barcelona, you can dance tango every night of the week,” explained Toni Barber.
The Wednesday night milonga held in his Il Café de las Artes has a friendly, casual and relaxed atmosphere that goes along with a late evening in the middle of the week.
A similar atmosphere exists at the milonga ‘El Desbande’ where many young people go to the fifth floor of an old building in the middle of Gràcia on Friday night. Tango instructors Carlos and Olga hold classes before the studio opens to the public at 11pm—in fact, at most of the places where milongas are held, there are classes that people can attend before the main event starts.
Some milongas are more traditional than others, like ‘La Casa Valencia’, the oldest milonga in Barcelona or ‘La Pantera Rosa,’ also in Gràcia and which starts at 10.30pm on Saturday nights. The latter is organised by instructors Dan Claramunt and Ruben Ramos. Because La Pantera Rosa mostly plays traditional tango music, this milonga is popular among all ages.
Professionals from around the world come to perform tango at La Pantera Rosa. “Tango is a type of dance that can be danced in many ways, from a very traditional style to a very modern one,” said Claramunt. “When I started to dance tango, it was more of a uniform dance, now it has very much transformed itself, and you find alterations that you would not in the past.”
Tango often becomes a progressively important part of the lives of the people who dance it. ‘‘I spend half my time in Barcelona and the main reason I do so is tango,” said Pete Batemen, an Englishman who has been dancing tango for five years. “I have a house in England and I share a flat here so I can dance tango in Barcelona. I like Il Café de las Artes and La Pantera Rosa in Gràcia, and on Sundays at the Ciutadella Park there is a beautiful outdoor milonga under the glorieta.”
Some milongas, like that at 10.30pm on Monday nights at the Pipa Club in the Plaça Reial, want to go beyond traditional tango music, according to organiser Claudio Frost. ‘‘If tango does not transform itself, if it does not renew itself just like a river does, tango will die.”
In short, for those curious enough to take a pre-milonga class, there will be plenty of places to dance once the basics are mastered. But beware—tango can be habit-forming.
Il Café de las Artes; Valencia, 234
El Desbande; Mare de Deu dels desemparats 5-Second Floor
Casa de Valéncia; Córcega, 335
La Pantera Rosa; Berga, 34
Milonga Maldita at the Pipa Club; Plaça Reial 3- principal