Bringing Latin flavour to Scottish dance floors is Glasgow Tango Studio. Launched in 2005, by tutors Jeff Allan and Sari Lievonen, the hub operates across different venues and class levels.
Lievonen explained the dance’s appeal, saying: “If you enjoy beautiful music and interaction with other human beings then tango is for you!”
Tango is a partner dance from the Argentinean region, with many modern-day forms.
Lievonen explained: “You can sort tango into two different categories performance tango – which you see on Strictly Come Dancing – and the milonga (social) tango that we do.”
Milonga sessions are set to a tanda of similar songs, before a cortina (break) allows for the swapping of partners. In Glasgow Tango Studio events, dancers swap partners by inclining their head towards a prospectus partner – who will move forward (to accept) or look away to decline. This tradition is called cabeceo.
After dancers have practiced their moves milongas often conclude with students demonstrating their skills. This improvised showcase is however different from the choreography of performance tango.
Lievonen said: “Learning social tango is like learning a language; you study its vocabulary and grammar and this will enable you to start making your own sentences.”
The spacing of these sentences varies depending on the type of tango. Milonguero tango uses close embraces and small steps, whereas salon tango favors open posture and longer steps. Core to both styles is traveling – heal first – with the music and your partner.
Lievonen stressed: “Tango is about connecting with your partner, not learning fancy steps. It is body language communication within the couple that makes what we call the tango connection.”
Tango connection describes the way in which a dancer can anticipate their partner’s next move.
Lievonen added: “It is possible to experience this connection in the very early stages of practicing. If both parties have the right posture then all they have to do is walk in unison, and the magic of the dance will start to appear.”
To experience this magic dancers can join Glasgow Tango Studio, on 21 April at El Abrazo Milonga (in Glasgow CCA). The night promises music from golden era tangoes, milonga and tango-valses, as well as contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.
Alternatively, beginners can try the dance at Glasgow Tango Studio taster sessions, the next of which is being held on 5 May, also at Glasgow CCA. These sessions occur around three times a year.
Lievonen added: “Beginners’ courses start in September, January and May. These classes can last 6 – 12 weeks. We also host private classes that allow people to get a better understanding of the art.”
Glasgow Tango Studio classes are currently being held in 76 Kelbourne Street Scout Hall, but updates of their details are held online.
Class participants are encouraged to book in advance, via the website or phone, to ensure even numbers for dance couples. Lievonen also explained that while tango is open to all ages, she finds it best suited to adults.
She concluded: “Life experience makes you more comfortable dancing with a partner. Men think that you need to impress a woman with fancy footwork, but this is not what women want, they want to dance with someone with whom they can relax.”