Tango: the rhythm of a heartbeat

The tango is a powerful, attractive and mysterious dance to me. A lot of students don’t know that Richland College offers an Argentina tango class in the continuing education department.  

The instructor, Phyllis Williams, has been teaching the tango with her partner since 2000. She is also a DJ for the dance parties, which means she likes to introduce great music and tango history to the class. She has traveled throughout the country to develop her skills.

The origins of tango are unclear, but it is generally agreed that the dance developed in the late 19th century in working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Montevideo, Uruguay as practiced by Uruguayan and Argentine dancers, musicians and immigrant laborers. 

The word “tango” may be African in origin, meaning “closed place” or “reserved ground.” Argentine tango is a simple quadruple meter and binary musical form, with some basic social dance steps accompanying it.

In my first tango class, we learned four basic steps that mean if we remembered them and understood music, we were ready to party.  We did go to a party in a South American café called Zaguan. I was glad to see what the real tango social dance looks like.

At the party, there were tango fans who were familiar or new to each other, but the one thing they have in common is appreciation for tango. Williams said, “For me, the dance is about community and about sharing a moment with another person. One of my favorite things in the world is to dance with a complete stranger and have this instant connection and understanding. 

“It’s about creating a special bond, if only for a moment, with another person and experiencing a connection not just with that person but with another time and place. Just listening to the music is an experience that gives me a new perspective on a different way of life.”

Tango can be an addiction that brings joy, happiness and a more exciting life experience.Next group of classes starts in March.