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Julie Hatfield
Argentine Tango
United States
Boston, MA
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An Overview to Tango in the Greater Boston Area

by Julie Hatfield
September 5, 2008
Boston, MA
A person walking near Harvard's Weeks Bridge on a moonlit summer night should be forgiven if he or she thinks they see a group of people in the outdoor light dancing the tango there.

They are seeing things; but the things they see are real. The dancers are members of The Tango Society of Boston, and their guests, plus anyone else who wants a free tango lesson and some good times dancing in the moonlight. They turn the bridge into a dance floor at their monthly Tango By Moonlight parties held as close to every full moon in Boston from May to September (the final one for this year will be September 13).

That's just one of the many activities of the society, which was incorporated 11 years ago as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support and growth of Argentine tango and has grown steadily ever since. Every Wednesday throughout the year, for example, the society sponsors tango dances at their Somerville, Mass., headquarters, with a one-hour lesson from 7 to 8 p.m. for beginners, another for intermediates from 8 to 9, and dancing from 9 to ll:45 p.m. Every couple of months the society sponsors a milonga, or tango dance social with live music, often in conjunction with a weekend workshop in which they bring teachers from Argentina to work with students of the dance. Each third Friday of the month is Tango Bar time, meaning a little less formal tango dance party, and whenever there is a fifth Friday of the month there is also a Café Tango, a dance with a different theme each time.

That means that with the Tango Society offering five monthly opportunities to dance, plus three other groups which run regular tango dances, a person in the Boston area has between eight and 10 opportunities to dance the tango each month. Once a year the society holds a four-day tango festival when people from all over the world come for lessons, workshops, shows and dancing. The mayor proclaims the first day of the festival Tango Day in Boston. This year's festival drew 700 people to the city.

Bostonians love their tango dancing. At a special wine dinner at her award-winning Cambridge restaurant Rialto a few years back, chef Jody Adams brought out her dancing partner and performed a tango around the diners, just for fun. Tamila Talishinsky of Newton, Mass., paid her $15 yearly membership fee to the tango society and goes nearly every Wednesday to the dances. Relatively new to tango, she says "I love the music; I find it hypnotizing. I can't stop; I'm addicted. It makes me relax." She says it is a wonderful break from her work in front of a computer all day as a software engineer. Although she, as many members, goes alone to the Wednesday night sessions, she says she always finds dancing partners at the events.

The society has hired Hernan Brizuela as its master-in-residence. Brizuela, a native of Argentina, commutes between New York and Boston to teach tango, and he performs at tango shows in New York as well. "It's a kind of dance," he explains, "that is for people who want to be alone to dance, not necessarily to party. It's a mix of cultures, with passionate music and more sharing between partners. Each time we tango there are four songs, so that you dance with one person for a longer time and feel close to the other person. The society is really interested in learning the real tango, as opposed to fantasy tango or ballroom tango, the choreographed version that you see in shows. How to lead and how to follow; how to walk, is what we teach."

Vicky Magaletta, president of the society and a native of Buenos Aires, boasts that the society brings to Boston "the best tango teachers in the world," such as Antonio Andrea Monti and "Gato" Valdez, in addition to Brizuela. She's especially excited about a new project that the society is about to launch which she calls its "Parkinsons Project." After a study on dance and the brain, doctors have found that teaching patients with Parkinson's Disease the tango helped them with improving their balance and lessening the shaking that is part of the illness. Allen Swartz of Melrose, a society member who says "I fell in love with the dance and a woman at the same time" when he discovered the society and began dancing tango, is working as a volunteer with two Boston hospitals and a Jewish family and children's service center, the latter with a Parkinson support group, to bring Parkinson patients to the society to dance with members. "Not only does it bring the patients better balance," he says, "but it brings them joy." In Buenos Aires, he notes, tango dance teachers have for a long time been teaching mentally handicapped and blind people the tango.

The Tango Society of Boston, Inc., can be reached at P.O. Box 390055, Cambridge 02139-0055 and its website, with a tango calendar, is www.bostontango.org. Its 24-hour tango hotline which publicizes events for all tango organizers in the Boston area is 617-699-OCHO (6246).
Boston's Tango by Moonlight

Boston's Tango by Moonlight

Photo © & courtesy of Clifton

Boston's Tango by Moonlight

Boston's Tango by Moonlight

Photo © & courtesy of Clifton

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