Breathe Buenos Aires into your soul

When tango was basic tango, it initially resembled something similar to S & M, with women on the receiving end, often tossed to the ground in a passionate gesture. Born in the poorest Argentinean barrios, excitingly on the edge of the slaughterhouse area of Buenos Aires, it moved up to the fashionable salons of Paris in the early 20th century, becoming a popular ballroom dance. But over the last couple of decades it has become such a vogue – both for exhibition and for people who just want to learn it – that there are tango festivals worldwide. Movies like British director Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson, American star Robert Duvall’s Assassination Tango, and Broadway’s Tango Argentina, along with the hugely successful Strictly Come Dancing franchise, fuelled the flames, which was already hot enough to begin with.  And now the throwdowns have been replaced by clever swirly kickbacks and twists through a partner’s legs: a more highly co-ordinated, egalitarian and elegant, pairing of the male and female dancers.   

Copenhagen is one of many cities (and countries) to showcase tango festivals (it has most recently become a huge phenomenon in the Middle East!), but Tango Copenhagen is special: a non-profit festival, run by the Copenhagen Tango Society, which simply intends to promote the tango. To add irony to the hot part, the ‘milonga’ evening – meaning the place of the social gathering for the tango, though the word also describes a faster rhythmic beat – will be held in an old steam heating factory that was used to supply heat for the nearby hospital. It can now accommodate 650 dancers and is at Kedelhallen Nyelandsvej 75, Frederiksberg. Tickets are sold at the entrance – for members of Tango Copenhagen 140kr, for non-members 160kr. The afternoon milongas are free, which is nice, though doesn’t it seem the tango should be danced at night? They will take place from Thursday until Saturday from 14:00 until 20:00 in the city centre at Kulturhuset Indre By, Charlotte Ammundsens Plads 3 (Ahlefeldtsgade 33). Topping off the event is something the festival organisers are particularly proud of: the ‘Cool down Milonga’, which they say is unique to Tango Copenhagen – a long, intimate, laid-back milonga which closes down the festival at midnight. Members pay 110kr, non-members 130kr.

Throughout the festival, tango dancers from 24 countries will be showing off their talent, including some big-name duos of the tango world: Esteban Moreno and Claudia Codega, Fausto Carpino and Stephanie Fesneau, Pablo Inza and Mariana Dragone, and Daniel Carlsson and Sigrid Van Tilbeurgh. Music will be performed by Orquesto Silenci, and among the disc jockeys on the stage will be well-known Barbel Rucker as well as Bianca, Sabine, Thomas Zelikman, Lene, Giuseppe, Tommaso Fiorilli and Sigrid van Tilbeurgh.  

To see how your body and spirit fit into the intense melodrama of the tango matrix, you can take an introductory class every day of the festival from 20:00 to 21:30, also at Kedelhallen Nyelandsvej 75, Frederiksberg.  

Copenhagen Tango Festival
Various venues in Cph; starts Wed, ends May 20;;

daily introductory classes at 20:00 at Kedelhallen Nyelandsvej, 75 Frederiksberg – tickets 160kr

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