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Tango On AssignmentArrows

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From Photographer

Pablo Corral Vega

Tango On Assignment

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From Author

Alma Guillermoprieto

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Pablo Senarega (top) and Pablo Corral Vega



Field Notes From Photographer
Pablo Corral Vega

Best Worst Quirkiest
    It was great to finally be accepted into the tango culture of Buenos Aires, but it wasn't easy. I had been taking pictures at a place called El Beso (The Kiss) at around 3 or 4 a.m. Tango is very nostalgic, and it seemed to heighten my loneliness and sadness. My father was seriously ill at home, I had no friends in Buenos Aires, and I was quite tired of seeing tango shows in which dancers fake sensuality. I felt out of place and unwelcomed by the dancers in this club, and I was actually wondering whether it had been a mistake to propose the story to the Magazine. Then Tito Franquelo, a dancer I had seen three or four times before, said to me, "You're taking this job too seriously. I've seen you many times around here. Leave your bag behind the bar and come have a glass of champagne with us."
    Tito became my closest friend in Buenos Aires, and from that night on every single door opened. Now I enter any tango club in Buenos Aires, and almost every one gives me a big smile and greets me by my name.

    Before my first night shooting at Torquato Tasso, a local milonga, or tango club, I had only seen tango shows of dancers trying to impress the audience with exaggerated acrobatics and sensuality. But at Torquato Tasso, I was seeing normal people dancing for themselves and truly enjoying the music. I got so excited that I immediately made my way to the middle of the dance floor and started snapping close-up pictures of the first authentic dancers I had seen. I began to get a lot of dirty looks, and in a few minutes the manager grabbed me and told me I was not welcome in his milonga. It didn't matter who I worked for, he said, I had to respect the rules of tango. And the first one is that if you are not dancing, you keep away from the dance floor. Then he kicked me out.

    For my first time dancing tango, I went with my tango teacher, Natalia, to Niño Bien, one of the fanciest, most beautiful tango clubs in Buenos Aires. The moment we stepped onto the dance floor, she gave me that very tight tango embrace. It was much tighter and closer than in class, and there were dozens of couples dancing around us.
    Well, I forgot absolutely everything. I was completely terrified. How in the world was I supposed to know how to move my feet without seeing them, communicate with Natalia through the movements of my torso, make sure I didn't bump into anyone, pay attention to my partner's and my own emotions, and follow the rhythm? I was paralyzed. Then Natalia whispered, "Either you move, or we will create a traffic jam on the floor." So I moved one-two, one-two, as if dancing a waltz. I had forgotten everything about tango. I was so nervous that I started laughing, and no one ever laughs on the dance floor. It was an absolute disaster.


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