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Tango fever in China


10:12, October 09, 2012

Tango dance has crossed seas from Europe and is now sweeping China! And yours trully had the chance to get a taste of this latest trend. Yes, I tried my own hand at tango, at one of Beijing’s tango club dance classes.

Raquel Olsson said, "I’m here at Tango Chino Club in Beijing. This is my first time taking tango dancing classes and I must say it’s definitely harder than it looks."

This is Diego Ma with his partner Cici, demonstrating tango steps for their students.

This is the fifth year since Diego began his tango career. Back in 2007 when studying in France, he came into contact with the dance and soon became fond of it. After he returned to China, he often went to tango parties to learn from foreign dancers. In 2008, his Tango Chino Club opened. Begun as a part-time job, teaching tango is now his full-time career.

As Diego himself says, once you fall in love with tango, you just can’t find other interesting things to do. However, tango was not his first choice back then.

Diego said, "My interest in tango first came from football. Yeah, it’s very interesting. When I was a boy I liked Maradona and Argentinian football. And later I started to become interested in the country’s culture, including tango. Now instead of football, tango occupies most of my life."

Ma’s transition to tango is actually quite like many other Chinese tango dancers.

Five years ago, almost all the tango dancers in China were foreigners. And now, 95% of Diego Ma’s students are Chinese. And they come from all walks of life, the youngest in their early twenties, and oldest in their sixties. Each has a different, yet interesting reason for getting into tango.

A Tango learner said, "Actually it was the movie ’Scent of a Woman’ that made me very interested in tango. Then my friend told me about this club and I came and found it very nice. So I joined the beginner class. This is my seventh lesson."

Much like its stereotype, tango is a hot and bold dance that flames with passion, which sounds quite the opposite of oriental culture. Maybe that is why tango hasn’t been as popular as other dances in China. However, with the country embracing the world more closely, many people like Diego are breaking the stereotype.

Diego said, "I think there is a big misunderstanding about tango. It’s not a hot and passionate dance. On the contrary, it’s reserved. And that matches the oriental characteristics. I always tell students, tango is not a fully open passion, it’s more restrained."

Besides those who are fond of tango culture, people also sign up to learn the dance for other reasons.

A Tango learner said, "I think it is a good way to make new friends while keeping fit. Nowadays young people don’t have many choices for social entertainment. Tango is a good choice."

Exercising and making friends, the exotic dance has now managed to become popular because it brings more people together.

Diego is planning to invite permanent teachers from Argentina to his club. And more ambitiously, he plans to host an International Tango Festival in Beijing next year.

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