A man was put into a potentially awkward situation a couple of nights ago. You know the one, when he’s at a formal dinner and a skilled professional dancer asks him to dance. This however wasn’t one of those normal situations. This was Barack Obama, husband, father, POTUS, and now, tango dancer.
All the world’s press ‘eyes’ were on him, with reactions and micro-expressions being analysed in minutiae as he accepted the invitation. At first he politely declined, but then rose from the table and got ready to tap into his dance reserves. Facebook was filled with social tango dancers excitedly sharing videos of the dancing, “first Pope Francis and now Obama!” read the comments. Some gave critique on his performance, posture, walk, others talked about how the finish was, his salsa moves knocking her tango poise off balance, her back-leading (well they were ‘performing’ and he wasn’t doing enough). A few teachers jokingly (some not) said that if he needed lessons they could come to him.
The thing is, he was lucky. Few people have the chance to ‘try’ with an experienced dancer and with so much space around them. The tourists who visit milongas in Buenos Aires wanting to dance thinking they can ‘wing it’, without actually having an idea about how the dance and more importantly the social setting of tango works, end up causing more chaos for others than the fun they have. No one ‘wins’ at the end of the day and tango remains one of those dances that is too difficult to attempt but interesting enough to bring up in small talk “you know I’ve tangoed in BAs”.
But the other thing is this, tango was lucky. Whether it’s the President of the United States or your friend who has just seen an old Saura film and wants to dance, it’s moments like these that bring tango up on someone’s radar, and possibly inspire them to try. I’m grateful for those moments because tango doesn’t scream at you to start, it burns bright and captivates, then it’s up to you to find it. Whether it’s one of the academies that has sprung up in Buenos Aires now multi-million pound tango market or you are able to find a local teacher who is passionate about the social side, the craft and practise, not steps and certificates, the thing is to start. Yes you can.