They say it takes two to tango and having two left feet I thought I’d be amply qualified. Such was not the case though.
I’d often mentioned to my wife that it would be nice to take formal dance lessons. But of course never followed through and did anything about it. So it was a bit of a surprise when she told me she’d signed us up for tango lessons.
To be fair we had tangoed before, having taken lessons in the Finnish tango on a trip to Minnesota just last year.
Yes, to my surprise the tango is very popular in Finland and they even have their own version of it, similar to the more popular Argentinian tango. They even have a four day tango festival in a small town there just below the Arctic Circle.
But being purists we were to be taught the more traditional version by our amply qualified instructor Horace Luong.
Horace, a former ballroom and Latin dance competitor in B.C. shares his love of dancing by teaching classes in a variety of dance formats including the Argentine tango at the new Active Living Centre at the University of Manitoba.
He is a member of a Canadian Dance Sports Federation and trains Manitoban ballroom dance competitors.
For the next ten weeks we gathered every Wednesday evening with about six other couples as he put us through the paces. As music played with that unmistakable tango beat, he taught us the basic steps first. How the man can lead the lady into a series of forward figure eight-like swivels called forward ochos. Then step in and check her movements and reverse her into backward ochos.
He taught us some signature moves such as a leg hook, referred to as a “gancho” to add a dynamic flourish and give the impression that you actually know what you’re doing.
Then there was the “Captain Morgan” where the man sticks out his leg as if resting on a barrel of rum, then the lady, if she doesn’t trip over the judiciously placed leg can rub against it sensually before giving a dramatic step over movement.
There were leg sweeps and a rotating bicycling movement that partners performed together with their feet synchronized.
Horace made it all look so smooth and simple.
They say he has a day job as a chemistry professor, but I think he just moonlights at that. His real vocation is as a dance teacher.
Although we struggled at times it was a lot of fun. Syncopated Latin rhythms, couples moving as one around the dance studio.
They say you should dance like no one’s watching, but believe me somebody always is. Take lessons.