Tango is 
Sex on Legs Article in the London Times



October 25th, 1997 - IN LONDON they are preparing a twice-weekly tango club with live band. It's due to start on Valentine's night. In Montevideo, Uruguay, next month, they are expecting 27 bands from 22 countries for a tango fiesta. In Belgium it's massive and in New York it's chic. And next week, the tango slides, struts and preens it way into Scotland.

Morag Deyes, director of Dancebase, the leading dance studio in Edinburgh, says it has a lot to do with Evita. "Whenever there is a craze for anything, you can usually find a onnection with a popular movie or show. That said, tango is not going to be a short-lived thing. It has really captured the public imagination."

She has organised a two-day salon for beginners and advanced dancers in January next year. "I expect a great deal of interest. It's incredibly erotic in a discreet way whereas the lambada is all bump and grind. It's the difference between wearing silk in bed as opposed to being completely naked."  Such tango classes as there are in the Capital are already over-subscribed.

And all the fans are slicking back their hair and pinning a gardenia behind their ear before heading off to Tango Pasion, the show which has turned on hundreds of new fans wherever it or its predecessor, Tango Argentino, have played.

"It's amazing to dance the tango", says Sophie Gilbert, 34, an Edinburgh student who is one of the new aficionados. "It is so deep and so beautiful."  Sex and the tango have always been bedfellows. Not for nothing was tango once famously described as the vertical expression of a horizontal intention. But the sanitised Come Dancing version which has  oiled and whiplashed its way round the ballroom dance circuit since the Fifties is far removed from its South American origins when the original Argentine tango was danced by pimps, prostitutes and pool-sharks in dockside brothels.  Its resurgence has been fuelled by Broadway revue-style shows. The first, most famous of these was Tango Argentino, which toured the world for four years in the Eighties. Now there's Tango Pasion which is touring Europe and will be in Edinburgh next week.

But is it another example of an entertainment concept bled dry to make a quick buck? The show's producer, Mel Howard, unsurprisingly, says not.  "As a vehicle to express emotion, tango is quite extraordinary," he says.  "In many ways it is like flamenco, except flamenco usually expresses aggressive, intense feelings. But tango can be soft, tender, even quite coy."

Howard and Tango Pasion's creative team - choreographer Hector Zaraspe and designer Ricardo Carpani - explore all these in the first half of the show where the atmospheric world of the Buenos Aires tango salon, circa 1940, is conjured by a cast of wildly romantic characters.

Tango classes are now full throughout across Britain.  According to Liz Davies, an avid tango dancer and organiser of hugely successful tango balls in London, one of the most fascinating and appealing aspects of the dance is how much you can learn about your partner.

In tango, she says, everything is up-front. "Are they pushy, are they generous, are they selfish, if you want to know more about someone, it all comes out in the dance." The fantasy element, she says, is also a big draw.  "You should see some of the outfits they wear. People like to know there's no limit - that you can look like a tart for an evening and not have to bother. Mind you, there's not a lot of women's lib in tango: the men are definitely in charge. But that's the point - with a really good partner, all you do is lie back and think of Argentina."




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