Friday 22 November 2019

Tango fever hots up as hundreds of dancers do steamy Latin strut

Simona Zaino who runs Authentic Argentine Tango Club at Bohemian on Ormond Quay
Simona Zaino who runs Authentic Argentine Tango Club at Bohemian on Ormond Quay
Piotr Matysiak & Paula Wiszkowska dancing at the Authentic Argentine Tango Club at Bohemian on Ormond Quay

Allison Bray

It's a steamy dance born in the slums and brothels of Buenos Aires more than a century ago and this weekend hundreds of 'tangueros' will be burning up the dance floor across the capital for the 13th annual International Tango Festival.

About 250 tango dancers from across Ireland and around the globe will don their dance shoes as they celebrate the Argentinian dance craze thought to have originated with African slaves before becoming de rigueur in the elegant salons of Paris, London and Berlin by the early 20th Century.

The fiery dance renowned for its intense sensuality swept across the Atlantic and was all the rage in the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America after silent movie star Rudolph Valentino famously danced the tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1921.

It was also popular with the working class immigrant communities on both sides of the Atlantic and has seen a modern resurgence in popularity across the globe, said festival director Simona Zaino (41), who lives in Dublin but hails from Sicily.

"People seem to feel they have a connection with the music regardless of where they're from," she said.

"Tango has a blend of so many different things. But it also has a social aspect. You learn the steps and techniques but it's an easy way to make friends."

Many of the participants in this weekend's festival, which kicked off on Thursday, are regulars from tango clubs that have sprouted up in Waterford, Wexford, Cork, Galway and Belfast as well the four main tango clubs in Dublin over the past decade.

In keeping with the international appeal of the dance, about half of the members hail from 20 countries around the world but are united in their love of tango dance and music.

Among them is WW2 veteran Jim McManus, who at 95 is not only the oldest "tanguero" in Ireland but one of the most active. The sprightly nonagenarian from Slieverue, near Waterford, took up the dance after moving to Ireland upon his retirement, at the age of 82. And now he dances the steamy Argentine tango almost every night if he's not already out ballroom dancing.

While the festival wraps up tonight, there's a free "winding down" party from 4pm to 6:30pm at The Point Village with Argentinian food and live music. The Dublin Argentine Tango Society is also hosting a "milonga" dance party at the Turks Head pub from 9pm until late.

Sunday Independent

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