Monday, April 14, 2008

For the Love of Tango

Last Friday, Paradiso celebrated its 11th anniversary with a big party at Dovercourt House. Bandoneon Master Raul Juarena from New York performed live with his trio, and Nelson Pino sang beautiful renditions of "Malena", "Sur" and other tangos. The hall was packed to the roof; everyone was dressed elegantly and ready to dance; the atmosphere was electric. What a party!

It was a special night not only because it was the 11th anniversary of a truly wonderful milonga, but also because it was a celebration of the spirit of the people who put their hearts into organizing this event, week after week, year after year for the lovers of tango in Toronto. Dearest Patricia and Regina: We cannot thank you enough!

Nowadays, we go to Paradiso every Friday without fail and we love the music there - but believe it or not, we've had our little differences with Patricia and Regina over the years. Like most people in Toronto, we started off our tango education dancing big flashy show tango moves and liking only music from the soundtracks of tango shows, tango movies (and perhaps a little Pugliese and Color Tango, because we didn't want to appear very narrow minded). In fact, one of my first communications with Patricia was to complain that all the music at her and Regina's milonga was Canaro and that they should play more Pugliese! She replied very courteously, by the way, and I didn't get my way about the Pugliese - but as I have told her years afterwards, they were right about keeping their music the way it is.

Patricia and Regina play music the way it is played in the traditional milongas of Buenos Aires. Whether there is a hundred people in the milonga, or only twenty people, they aren't swayed by fads in music or styles of dancing. Some other milongas may pander to the mob and play whatever is trendy or whatever permits the people go hog wild with the big movements. Dancing well to traditional music requires patience, discipline and love for what tango is, and not what we want tango to be. The best dancers in Toronto - the ones who savour the tango's sweetness, who are passionate about the embrace and who are inebriated by the compas -dance at Paradiso. I'm glad Patricia and Regina have stuck to their principals, so we all can have a place to go whenever we want to feel the ghost of tango - and where we can be motivated to become better tango dancers.

I once asked Patricia whether they make any money in this tango organization business. It was quite clear given the size of our tango community that it is impossible in Toronto! So I asked her why she and Regina does it, why do they run these milongas week after week, invite guest teachers from Buenos Aires every year, organize outdoor milongas and involve themselves in promoting tango in every way possible. What was the big reward?

She quoted Paradiso's motto: "FOR THE LOVE OF TANGO" - and she meant it heart and soul.

Feliz Cumpleaños Paradiso. Besos y abrazos.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Brinton said...

I just discovered your blog and enjoyed reading back to your trip to BA. BTW, tell me more about the accupressure slipper and what to look for.

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