In this week's post, Nora writes about learning how to tango at a My Global City event held at a local dance studio in Buenos Aires.
What’s was great about this study abroad experience is that we got a lot of free unstructured time to just explore the city and travel and do our own thing, but there were a few preplanned activities called “My Global City events.” The event that I think everyone was looking forward to the most, myself included, was the estancia trip. This was a trip an hour outside of the city to a ranch where we would ride horses, hear from real life gauchos, and watch live performances over a free lunch. Sounds amazing right? Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about that one. I was seriously sick all weekend. It was a huge bummer!
Learning how to tango in Buenos Aires.
But almost as cool, I was able to go to the tango lesson the first weekend of June. At this activity we learned tango from instructors in a cavernous, slightly chilly, sort of rustic, artsy dance studio called La Catedral.The studio was located a few stops out on the B line, though I took a colectivo (translation: bus) from Juramento. There was a little café-like set up at the back of the huge dance floor and above it hung this giant shabby looking piece of art work made of wire and dingy reddish cloth. Some people thought it was meant to be a heart, a plausible hypothesis. On the other end of the room, by the entrance and above a cluttered low stage, hung a giant portrait of Carlos Gardel, a singer in the early 20th century who’s remembered sort of as the father of tango.
One dance step at a time.
We started off easy, walking in a circle, but it got complicated fast. Everyone laughed nervously as dance partners constantly ran into each other and others. I learned “the man’s part” as there were more women at the lesson than men. At the end it was really fun to watch the professional dancers showcase their craft, and with a four-piece band too, including a bandoneon (this is an Argentine instrument that looks like an accordion, but it’s really its own instrument!). After that we got to gorge ourselves on delicious and free empanadas made right there in the kitchen of the dance studio and sit in the café-like setup at the far end of the floor. I’m super glad I went to this event, because tango is such an interesting iconic dance that people don’t really do socially anymore, so I otherwise probably would not have had the chance to try it.
Enjoying empanadas with my host sister!
I had a great time at the tango lesson, but it wasn’t my only experience with dance lessons in Buenos Aires. There are plenty of opportunities to learn different dance styles. Our group went to a tango school and learned salsa a few times, a dance that still thoroughly confuses me even though I’m a fan of bachata and merengue. My favorite dance lesson experience was going to Kizoumba with my host mother. Kizoumba is not even native to Latin America—it’s an African dance, but after going to that lesson I love the dance style and the music. It’s so sweet and happy and that discovery, for me, really exemplifies the global experience of spending some time immersed in this city.
Nora Callahan is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. An International Affairs and Math major at Northeastern University, she is studying abroad in Buenos Aires this semester.
Nora's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.