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Popping the Cork on Tango


By Christina Johnson

I finished my Tango Therapy article last week with the memory of a dessert in the Andean plateau of Mendoza, Argentina. The dessert was a parfait Malbec; the layered chocolate genoise was drenched with regional wine and raspberries. I was satiated with earthly food but ready for heavenly tango.

The local Mendoza tango milonga started at 8pm, so there was yet time for another wine tasting at my boutique hotel. After I showered and changed, I put my red, suede stiletto tango shoes into a shoe bag and carried them with me to the tastefully decorated hotel living room. Five bottles of red wine were waiting on a tray in front of the warmly flickering fireplace. The smiling host invited me to try plates of local almonds, walnuts, raisins, a variety of homemade cheeses, and green and black olives. We tasted a deep and ruddy cabernet sauvignon and a chardonnay.

As luck would have it, they kept refilling the glasses at this particular tasting, so there I sat— purple-mouthed, relaxed, and grinning giddily amongst a sophisticated group from Europe. After weeks of starvation in Buenos Aires, my stomach felt once again like it had the job of digesting food. A small voice in my memory whispered that eating is something that healthy people do at least once a day, and that tango dancers in Buenos Aires are not necessarily healthy.

I had an outstanding evening at the tango milonga. There were no disdainful looks or sneers from the ladies, and the milonga people were laughing and drinking wine, beer, and Cokes. Instead of the rigid protocol in Buenos Aires of wearing black slimming dresses and flaunting bare backs and midriffs, in Mendoza milongas, the women were fully clothed. Dancers were of all ages. Children munching pizza sat at tables with their parents and grandparents. Attire included jeans, sweaters, and colorful dresses. The dancers were skilled and authentic; no exhibition show dancers were vying for attention. All ages danced together, and there were just as many young people as the over-50 crowd. I danced with the “teacher” of the group, and then with a very tall and handsome young man who was a great dancer and as sweet and aromatic as—well—as the Finca El Portillo chardonnay I’d had an hour before.

I felt incredibly relaxed. The women’s tango workshop I had taken before leaving Buenos Aires had taught me about enjoying my body and my power. The well-known teacher, Graciela Gonzalez, asked us to imagine ourselves as lionesses, and I discovered that purring like a lioness relaxed me between tangos.

“Open your arms and your heart, invite your partner to the warm greatness of yourself as a woman,” said Graciela.

As in tango, so in life.

No partner needed!



Tango Therapy

New series

Tue, Jan 2, 10:30–11:30am

Pure Fitness studio

Stirling Dickinson 15

A few doors down from entrance to Real de Minas Hotel

180 pesos per couple

120 pesos per single for class



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