Tango pros: How are they doing now? Part 4

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had I stayed in Buenos Aires last spring. My visit was cut short by the outbreak of the pandemic. I had arrived in the first days of March, not sure whether I had done the right thing by sticking to my travel plan and not sure what to expect. My plan had been to spend several weeks in Buenos Aires studying Spanish in the morning and tango in the afternoon. The first cases of Covid-19 had arrivd in the USA, but Argentina still seemed a safe place. I was naïve, as were most of us. But I had no idea how quickly the virus was going to spread, and that it in no time it would turn into a pandemic.

During the few days I ended up staying in Argentina the government moved into action quickly. So far as tango was concerned, their first step was to ban all foreign visitors from tango events. A day later they shut down all tango events, and then finally closed the borders. I had a choice: either to stay in Argentina indefinitely and be confined to my small rental apartment or to take the next flight back to the USA. I decided on the latter. My entire stay, short as it was, was overshadowed by the mounting crisis.

One of those who stayed because that was his home and lived through the turmoil of the past year in Buenos Aires is Eduardo Saucedo. Until the arrival of the pandemic he used to travel frequently around the world, teaching and performing. But suddenly his world shrank to the size of this apartment.

On the other side of the world in London, another well-known tango teacher, Raquel Greenberg, worried about the future of her business — of her entire profession. She bravely kept her tango academy going by teaching online classes. Thanks to the British government’s uneven handling of the crisis Raquel was able to open her school for a while for in-person classes. She even managed to organize a tango trip to the other end of Europe.

What follows is the continued story of two tango teachers in two cosmopolitan cities, seven thousand miles apart, living through the same crisis: what happened during the second half of 2020 to Eduardo Saucedo in Buenos Aires and what happened Raquel Greenberg in London.

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Eduardo Saucedo

Eduardo Saucedo
Eduardo Saucedo, master teacher, dancer, choreographer

When I call Eduardo in early January he sounds as happy as a clam. No wonder, after a very long and strict lockdown he is now out and about, enjoying the simple pleasures of life he had missed so much.

Buenos Aires suffered an unprecedented lockdown for more than two hundred days between March and October. The confined living situation caused a five-fold increase in depression among local residents known for their lively social life. After the lockdown was lifted, not surprisingly, people began flocking to milongas that popped up at many places in Argentina’s capital. Some of them take place legitimately: outdoors and with special permits by the administration. Others are held without permits and are frequently shut down by local police. Needless to say, dancing tango at a time when the pandemic is still raging in Argentina is at the center of a much-heated debate. The issue hits a delicate point in the memory of Argentines, since during the dictatorship tango as a place of social gatherings and potential uprising was forbidden.

Even though the reasons for the continued restrictions on social activities, including tango gatherings, are different this time, they have been just as hard to bear. And in many ways they have affected everyday life even more. The residents of Buenos Aires were only allowed to leave their homes to go shopping at the nearest store. At times a nightly curfew was imposed, strictly enforced by police.

Ever since rules were loosened at the beginning of the Argentinian summer, Eduardo tells me laughingly he has been taking ‘a looot of walks’ across town. He buys his coffee in the morning, goes for a walk, has lunch outside, and hangs out and enjoys time with a few close friends in his bubble.

But the many months he was forced to spend alone at home were not wasted: he worked on receiving a certificate in life-coaching. This was something, he tells me, he had always wanted to do.

This doesn’t mean that he has given up his tango career. He continues to teach online, both private lessons and group classes. One of these is a rather unusual class about the culture of Buenos Aires including instructions on tango technique for advanced dancers, called ‘Tango Embrace of Buenos Aires’. He tells me that he developed the concept with his co-hosts Christy Cote in San Francisco and Kikki Rusth. Furthermore, he maintains close ties with other tango communities in the USA such as the Tango Society of Boston for which he teaches a four-week online series this month. This way he also stays in touch with students in parts of the world that he used to visit frequently.

When I talked to Eduardo last summer about teaching online, he said that he appreciated some of the new benefits of teaching online, above all the fact that ‘zooming’ into his students’ living room creates more intimacy and allows for a closer relationship between teacher and student. Now he adds that his new online teaching experience was a learning process: “With teaching online you have to reorganize your mind. You have to teach with a different vocabulary.”

It seems that he is still far from teaching in person and will continue teaching online for the time being. While returning to his old tango life is not in the near future, he seems too busy to have any regrets: “It’s good to miss tango because it is going to result in a ‘reset’ in tango.” Tango will be even more popular than ever after the pandemic, he thinks.

After we talk, he packs his bags for a trip to the south of Patagonia with his friends ‘in the bubble’, for a few days exploring something new — and enjoying his new freedom.

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Raquel Greenberg

Raquel Greenberg
Raquel Greenberg went back to teaching online in London. Photo by Gustavo Piola.

After a devastating spring and summer, London started opening up in mid-August. So did Raquel with her tango academy. The church where she teaches allowed her to teach in person with all the required restrictions in place. The church was accommodating in other ways too, as Raquel adds: “They were so kind to reduce the rent.”

Months of teaching online only from her apartment finally came to an end. It was a huge relief to see her students in person, even though Raquel never missed a beat. She was one of the first tango professionals to switch to online teaching immediately when the lockdown took place last March. During our first conversation three months later she told me how she quickly learned to master video-conferencing platforms and managed that way to keep her students engaged — dancing tango as well as on a social level.

Although her students loved her online classes they were overwhelmed to be able to attend in person classes again. “It was rewarding to see all the happy faces”, Raquel remembers. She taught a reduced number of students at the space in the church. Encouraged by the success of this first step, she started to organize her annual tango retreat in Crete.

Still, there was a lot of uncertainty how the overall Covid crisis would develop in the UK and in Europe. “It was difficult to get the trip off the ground because the rules changed all the time,” she says. In the end, the group with eight students was much smaller than previous groups. The students came from France, Denmark, and England: a genuinely European experiment, given that each country had — and still has — different travel restrictions. The experience was quite different too: the trip was moved to a different time of year — from May to late September— and the overall relief of the participants at having escaped their restricted life at home and of actually being on vacation was unprecedented. The group stayed in a remote part of Crete and had to drive to get to dinner places in the evenings. She wasn’t able to participate in many of these small social outings since she continued teaching her online lessons during that time. But she rewarded herself with an extra few days of vacation by herself after all the others had left.

When she returned to London she says she felt incredibly happy, and it was almost a surreal feeling to be back in a city that had returned to life. She thought her events planned for the holiday season would still be happening and continued to promote them, investing a lot of time and money. “December is usually the busiest time of the year for me,” Raquel says. But soon after, the infectious numbers went up and everything started to shut down again. All Raquel’s events had to be cancelled.

Nevertheless, she tells me as we speak in January, she is at this point the only operating Argentine tango school in London. She firmly believes that tango will come back, but it could also mean a lot of competition for those few professionals like her who will have survived this crisis. “It’s scary to think what’s going to happen when everything opens up again,” she ponders. But ‘scary’ is the way life feels in London these days. When Raquel now walks in the nearby park to clear her mind it’s very quiet, but at the other end of the park she keeps hearing sirens and ambulances. “It’s like a science fiction movie,” she says.

Last of all I want to know if she will get vaccinated. “I can’t wait!” she says without hesitating.

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Eduardo Saucedo: A time for reflection and new opportunities.

This story is part of the ongoing series Tango in the Time of Covid-19, Phase 2

Eduardo Saucedo
Eduardo Saucedo, master teacher, dancer, choreographer

My very first private tango lesson was with Eduardo Saucedo. I was still a tango baby, barely one year into dancing Argentine tango, and he was a star at the tango firmament: a master teacher, dancer, choreographer, and producer of tango shows. I was attending the ‘Congresso Internacional de Tango Argentina’ (CITA) in Buenos Aires at the time, the biggest event in the world of tango during which I took a workshop with Eduardo and his then partner, Marissa. Not only was I deeply impressed by his teaching, but at the end he brought me – just as every other student in the room – to tears when he spoke about the deeper meaning of tango in life, of love and passion, and of believing in yourself. Then they both gave each of us a red rose. There wasn’t the slightest bit of sentimentality or fake feelings. Even we less emotional Northern Americans and Europeans could sense that what he had just delivered was profoundly honest and had come straight from his heart.

With my heart pounding, I knocked at Eduardo’s apartment door the following day. A distinguished blonde lady with a Swedish accent opened the door and introduced herself as Eduardo Saucedo’s manager: Kikki Rusth. She led me through the apartment to his dance studio, and my nervousness faded quickly. I remember how he took me seriously right from the beginning and took away my fear of perhaps being an inadequate or too inexperienced student. It was an eye-opening lesson in my early tango life and it gave my self-esteem a much needed boost at the time.

I met Eduardo again a few years later when he started to teach frequently with Christy Cote in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then he has become a regular in the Bay Area, as well as in many other parts of North America. We also see him now every year in early spring when he serves as an Official Judge for the ‘US Tango Championship’ in San Francisco. He is a judge on other tango competitions, participates in tango festivals all over the world, has appeared in documentaries by National Geographic and the very sweet short documentary ‘My first Tango’. He sees himself as a cultural ambassador for his country, and was honored with the prestigious ‘Pa´que Bailen los Muchachos’ award in Buenos Aires. Eduardo Saucedo is based in Buenos Aires and that’s where I reached him he has been living in quarantine at his home since the middle of March.

AB: It looks like over the past few months you’ve become the ‘master of tango online classes’. Regardless of sheltering-in-place, you’re busy all the time, right?

ES: Yes, I work and thanks to new technology I can relax here at home and at the same time work from home. What can we say of this time? It’s just what it is, it’s just very different this time. So yes, I’m working at home.

AB: What kind of classes do you teach?

ES: I’m teaching group classes and private lessons too. I’m glad I have a dance studio so I can teach here. I’m busy, but at the same time I have time for myself because I’m on my own here in Buenos Aires because of the corona virus. This technology really helped me to reconnect with people differently.

AB: In what way?

ES: Because they let me get into their homes. It’s not that they’re coming to the studio. I’m in the studio! But I’m in their homes. So the feeling is very different because it’s very intimate. The connection is bigger. But I have to get used to see people in little squares. [laughs]

AB: Does that mean you feel less in control than when students come to your studio?

ES: Well, the feeling is that I have to break this perception that what I see is a computer or a camera. I have to really feel that I’m really connected with them. So I have to break down this first barrier. It’s not easy at the beginning to do that with so many people. You have to learn the tools of these new platforms and then just be yourself again. You can be yourself when you’re with people in one place and you see them and you can feel what is happening around you. So I can control how I will approach a class. But when I’m teaching from home and I’m watching people on the other side, I have to learn that I can’t control the class in the same way. I have to believe in what I give and what I teach and I hope they’re listening and dancing. [laughs] I have the feeling that when I’m teaching with these new technologies, I have to speak louder. I have to make my presence bigger in the same way so they don’t get distracted because they’re at home. People are at home, so when they decide to leave, they leave. And they come back and they continue the class. In the actual class they usually stay there with you all the time.

AB: Do you structure the classes differently?

ES: First I show what I need to teach, then I tell the students to do it with me and then I watch what they’re doing. It’s harder because not everyone has the camera just capturing their whole body. The students ask and they step back, but the camera doesn’t show the feet and so you have to accept what you see. I need to be more detail-oriented, especially in group classes. I ask people to mute themselves and then I can talk and everybody can focus on what I’m teaching. At a certain point I say ‘Okay, now we can do questions. If you have a question, lift your hand. And then unmute yourself and ask the question.’ It helps other people in the class. But I can’t answer absolutely everything. That part is not difficult for me. The difficulty is to be able to see all of them simultaneously; but I’m actually getting used to it.

AB: How many students can you teach on one screen?  

ES: I’m having around twenty people. That’s a pretty good group size. And then… I’m nearsighted. But we near-sighted people focus more. You can always see what’s wrong, even when it’s difficult to see objects. So when I teach, I know when the foot is not right. I can see those little details even with the students there on the screen. I kind of know if they’re doing it right or…. I don’t say ‘wrong’, but I say they need to get better in something that I’m teaching. Because one of the things that I believe is that we don’t do things wrong. We need to get better and we can improve. One teacher can have one vision about something, another can have a different vision, and I have my own vision. Because I learned the different styles in tango, I understand better what people need. When you know the other styles in tango it really helps to understand the students.

AB: Tell me a little bit about how you started tango.

ES: I come from a small village in the north of Argentina. When I was a little kid, the only TV channel we had in our village showed movies from the 1930s, 40s and the 50s, and almost all of them were about tango. So I wanted to dance. I remember being a kid; I looked at the TV and I just took the broom and I started to dance. When I started to study law at the university here in Buenos Aires there was a tango class at the University Extension. I went there. I said ‘Wow, this is my chance, this is my time’.  And then the first time that I embraced my partner and I lead her into the cross, something clicked in my head and I said ‘This is for me’. I was studying law until my life turned naturally to tango. It was once a week, and it was my day to go. I don’t know for what reason, but it was that day that I had to go. And I had to dance, and I had to feel it, and I had to embrace, and I did it. And since then I never stopped.

AB: At the end of each of your lessons you always have something important to say, something that puts tango into a larger perspective. It’s like your mantra. Where does that come from?

ES: Because before I started tango, I was challenged by my own life. When I was sixteen, something happened and I almost died. The doctors didn’t know what it was. I never used drugs. We went to so many doctors. My brother is a doctor. We went to one doctor and he told me “Wait here, I’m going to talk to your brother.” And when they went to another room, it seemed like something wasn’t right. So I went and put my ear to the wall because I wanted to know what they were talking about. And the doctor said to my brother “You have to tell your family that there is no hope for this guy.” So I said to myself ‘Who is this person saying that I’m going to die?’ I was sixteen years old. I felt good, even though I was sick. But I felt I wasn’t going to die. And so I learned to believe; to believe in myself. And I want to transmit that everything that you want to do is possible. It doesn’t matter if you do small or big things. But everything that you do is important for your life. Tango helped me to communicate this idea that you have the power to decide for your life. Tango for me is a way to communicate, because I don’t think there is another dance where you communicate things in the way tango does.

AB: Did you dance other dances before you started tango?

ES: We grew up with folklore. But I was not a professional folkloristic dancer, I just danced. We’re in a country where we dance, especially in small places. I was always the little guy and I was never shy, and the others always called me to dance: “Eh, Eduardo, do it, come on, Eduardo, come here, Eduardo!” And I was always ok with it, I went to recitals and everything. When I became part of this tango world, I discovered other dances and that I could use a little bit of this and of that.

AB: What changes have you seen in tango since the corona crisis began? And do you think tango is coming back?

ES: I’ve been so many years in tango and in so many communities around the world, and I think there was too much information for tango people. There was too much information about everything. There is a point where you don’t really know where you are with your tango sometimes. So this time gives us the opportunity to relearn what we want, what we miss. I’m not making generalizations, but it was like, okay, I’m going to dance here and I’m going to dance there, but there is something that I feel I don’t need… because it’s too much. I think when we return from the quarantine, we will choose better with whom we want to dance, and what we want to communicate. And what we want to give. And what we want to share. And with whom we want to share. For me as a teacher it was like a wall at first. One day you were having classes and the next day nothing. I thought ‘What? And now what?’ And then you have to absorb that information. You have to just eat it and process it. I’m grateful that I’m in a situation that I can do that, that I can take my time, a little bit of time just to process.

AB: You were traveling a lot. It seemed like you hardly ever took a break.

ES: Exactly. And then all of a sudden you say ‘Okay, there is the wall I have in front of me. Now what am I going to do?’ If I only see the wall, I don’t see the opportunities. So, well, let’s create a little ladder so I can work around this problem, so I can develop different ideas. But I have to accept that tango for now is not going to be the same. I’m not going to be able to teach people in groups, I’m not going to be able to go to dance at the milongas, I’m not going to be able to have good times and dinners and things with friends. But I think tango specifically makes you think that you need to evolve. If people don’t evolve, tango will disappear. We need to see what’s happening with this new version of tango, and then it will come back. I don’t know when. That’s the big question. I think what’s probably going to happen is the formation of small groups. Is it going to be more than that? I don’t know. Are there going to be any milongas? I don’t know. However, we need to restart and not forget how important it is to embrace in tango, to hug. I think what we’re missing is that connection. That’s why I said there was too much going on so that even when you did embrace with somebody it sometimes was just an embrace, but not a real one. I think that what it will bring — this idea that we meet again — it will be a difference in our embrace. We have to reconnect with our passion. Every time I deliver a message, it’s about passion, joy, and life and for the respect of peace and freedom in the world. Tango to me is this idea that I can embrace somebody, that I can connect with a person, with the music, and to share something very special. And I think after the quarantine that will happen more. I think it’s a lesson for every tanguero that we don’t have to hug because it’s an obligation. We have to feel it. We have to be sincere. We have to respect the other person, but we don’t have to stop what we feel, what the music tells me. Because the music is very important in this whole picture. We cannot embrace if we don’t have the music. It will be different because we talk about tango. And that’s what I value of tango, el valor de la musica.

AB: What role does the music play in your teaching?

ES: I try to show what the movement is about. Then I try to make them feel comfortable. I play any kind of music at that point. I just play something that is comfortable, something that relaxes, something that is easy because there are a lot of elements that people need to incorporate before they accept the music. They know they like something in the music, but they don’t know exactly what it is. In some way it was the same for me. At the beginning, Pugliese, di Sarli, d’Arienzo, they were all the same. It’s all tango. Okay, good, let’s dance! By nature, I think, people have some sort of idea about music, so they somehow figure it out. But when I start to incorporate the music into the movement, they don’t know exactly what it is, what orchestra it is. And then I start to tell them a little bit about the orchestra we’re dancing to. I’m just trying to incorporate the idea of all the elements together. When I just tell them to do this and that, and then that’s it, that doesn’t help. I like to guide people in a way so they can find their own tango. I can’t obligate them to dance my tango. My mission is that people discover the tango they like to dance.

AB: Do you think there is a specific type of tango music that is most suitable for this current time?

ES: You know, I’m usually a very dramatic person and I like Pugliese just as much as d’Arienzo. But there’s so much happening in our heads today. All the things you thought you had organized for yourself in your life can disappear like that. In terms of the music, I think we have to get back to basics, to di Sarli. If I’d have to choose a song, I would say Bahia Blanca or A la Gran Muñeca — something that calms me down, something that relaxes me and that is simple. I have to make my own life simple because I think everything is too much. It’s hard to understand what’s going to happen, so it’s better to be just simple, to enjoy day by day. And to feel what’s happening now will help us in the future to embrace the world and tango better.

AB: Which must be especially hard for the people in Buenos Aires where sheltering-in-place has been in effect since March and won’t be lifted until September. You used to work with people all the time and travel a lot for work. How do you deal with the isolation?

ES: I have to keep my life organized. This is my opportunity to be at home because usually I’m never at home, I’m always traveling. Ninety-five percent of my life is with people. So now I organize my days differently. Of course, I have the classes, I have work. But for the rest of the time, I get up in the morning, then I study English because my English needs to get better. I bought a book with my mandala animals, and I choose the color I feel at that moment and I paint. I cook — I like to cook. And I didn’t cook for such a long time and now I cook every day since we started the quarantine. I talk with good friends, with Kikki obviously, we’re always working together, we’re family, we’re friends, we’re business associates, so we keep working, thinking about possibilities etc. I exercise here at home three or four times a week. And once a week I go for a walk outdoors. I just need to do that. I protect myself, I don’t touch anybody, I just walk, I just want to move and feel that my blood is moving. I’m not the kind of person who can stay at home and watch TV, I’m an active person. I also read. Come Friday, Saturday, Sunday, then for me it’s weekend. Which means I have to eat differently and do things that I don’t do during the week. And believe it or not, when you organize yourself in that way, even when you are indoors, life makes sense. If you don’t organize your life and you live in a chaos, well, it’s hard. The most difficult part for me that I’m not able to practice with somebody, to dance with somebody, even with one person. But overall life is good.

AB: Eduardo, thank you for this interview!

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© 2020 by Andrea Bindereif

Tango in the Time of Covid-19, Part 4

Christy Cote
Christy Cote from San Francisco, Argentine tango teacher, performer, choreographer
(Photo: Tanya Constantine)

Christy Cote, San Francisco, California: tango teacher, performer and choreographer  

Christy is my ‘tango mom.’ She was my first tango teacher when I started learning tango in 2009. I had known her for many years before, when I was a student at the ballroom-dance teachers’ college at the Metronome, at the time one of San Francisco’s most respected and popular dance studios. I wasn’t into Argentine tango back then, but I kept seeing Christy at the studio and I loved watching her at our student – teacher showcases at Fort Mason. I thought her choreographies, her outfits, and her dancing were most charming. She was approachable and friendly without knowing me, and so I trusted her enough to finally take one of her tango boot-camps for beginners. I had fun and enjoyed her teaching so much that I signed up for her regular Tuesday evening classes. The rest is history. Now Christy Cote is without doubt one of the most established tango teachers in the Bay Area. She began teaching full-time in the mid-nineties, and will be celebrating twenty-five years of teaching next April. Now, however, her future, like that of other tango teachers, is uncertain.

When I last saw her in person at class in late February this year, she was observing the oncoming crisis with great concern. But she kept her classes going, despite warnings. “I didn’t want to feed into the frenzy,” she explained. But Tom Lewis, the owner of the La Pista studio where she teaches, urged her to be cautious, and recommended early on to consider canceling her classes. When the shelter-in-place order was announced in mid-March for San Francisco, she had no choice but to stop teaching.

Shortly before she had already suffered her first blow. She was about to take a group of her students to the International Tango Congress in Buenos Aires (CITA), the longest-running tango festival in Argentina. Christy was in Hawaii for her mother’s eighty-fifth birthday when her phone rang. “I was getting my hair done, my mom was getting her hair done, we were about to welcome twelve dinner guests at the hotel,” she recalled, “when Fabian Salas, the festival organizer, called and told me that they had to cancel the event.” That was two days before she was to leave for Buenos Aires. She immediately picked up her phone to inform her students and to tell them not to get on their flight to Argentina. But she had left her address folder back home in San Francisco, intending to pick it up during her layover, and now scrambled to find the phone numbers of all the participants in her group. Email, she said, would have taken too long. She managed to contact everyone, but there was one student who insisted on traveling anyway. “I had to be strong with him,” she said, “because they had lockdown already in Buenos Aires, and I told him he should stay at home.” She finally succeeded in convincing him, but one student from Canada was already in Buenos Aires. He had trouble with his accommodation and wasn’t allowed to check into his hotel. He ended up staying at a different place, but was not allowed to go out, and frantically called her for help. His situation was eventually sorted out, and after several miserable days all on his own in Buenos Aires he flew back home. Christy returned to San Francisco and kept teaching for a few more days.

How does she experience the sudden termination of her work? “It’s financially devastating,” she said. Tango, however, provides for only one part of her income. She owns a rental property in Hawaii which usually pays for her expenses. She hasn’t been able to rent the vacation property for weeks now, and she doesn’t expect it to be a source of income for the foreseeable future. She tells me that her property in Honolulu costs $1,600 in monthly homeowners-insurance, and that rental taxes run as high as $17,000 annually. In other words, with the arrival of Covid-19, both sources of Christy’s income have dried up at once.

Like everybody else, her calendar is suddenly blank. She had to cancel a boot-camp for advanced dancers in early May which she was supposed to teach with Eduardo Saucedo, another tango legend from Buenos Aires. Then a major dance-camp in Las Vegas for dance teachers, scheduled for mid-June, was canceled as was the International Tango Summit in Los Angeles in September. However, she is as busy as ever. She has recorded tango videos with Eduardo Saucedo and promotes them online. She wants to keep her students engaged. In May she started Zoom meetings on Tuesday evenings — the time of her regular class for the past twenty-five years. She talks to many of her students a lot, but to some others not at all, and is concerned about some whose only social contact is their tango class.

Altogether she remains very busy with her social interactions and care of her financials, applying for the new government unemployment program for self-employed individuals, PUA, the corona PPP program, and grants. She has applied for an artist grant with the City of San Francisco and recently received a check for $1,500. It made her proud to live in a city that appreciates its artists. She also helps her non-English-speaking artist friends who are often unaware of various benefits and grants.

At the time we talked, she said that she had received $7,000 in donations from her students and about the same amount in pre-paid lessons. The downside of this means that once she is able to teach again, she’ll have to teach six to eight private lessons a day to work off that money, during which time she won’t be able to earn new money. It’s a Catch-22, but she says she is very grateful for the help at this time and the amazing generosity of her students.

What does she think is going to happen to tango? “The gates are never really going to open to the way we knew it,” she thinks. Looking at the bigger picture of social dance, she said that ballroom dances have always been affected by politics. “Look at the swing, for example, it was at its height in the early 1940s, then the war came and the young men were drafted and that brought out the demise of the dance. The same happened with Argentine tango: after the fall of President Peron in 1955 tango almost disappeared. It wasn’t until decades later that it re-emerged. With the success of tango shows such as Forever Tango it became more popular all over the world than ever before. But that was twenty-five years ago,” she said, “it’s surprising that a popular dance lasts that long.”

“I never thought that tango would become that popular,” she continued. She says she thought of tango as a dance in popularity similar to the lambada or swing, both of which lasted for a few years and then disappeared. At first, she recalled, tango in San Francisco was danced by a small group, and initially she wanted it to remain small and intimate. At the time, she still had a full-time job and taught ballroom dance on the side. But with tango growing more and more, she realized the benefit of a larger community. Then she had a personal experience with cancer and decided to follow her passion to become a full-time tango teacher.

She wonders if now tango is coming to end or: “Maybe some kind of underground tango is going to develop.” It surprises me to hear such clear but pessimistic words from someone who has dedicated the past twenty-five years of her life to tango. She laughs and says she actually can’t imagine a life without tango.

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