Stepping closer

By Yang Fan Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-21 17:28:01

Tango club brings residents together

"It's more like a big family than a dancing school," said Yang Weiyi, a member of TangoBang, a Shanghai-based community devoted to tango dancing. "It's a place where I always feel like I belong."

The Argentine tango is a dance of passion. The partners press against each other as they strut through a myriad of complex steps to the tempo of rich, rhythmic music. The dance relies heavily on improvisation. The male dancer can and should improvise freely, selecting the way he intends to lead his partner.

To introduce more people in Shanghai to the exotic dance, TangoBang gives lessons to both beginners and advanced dancers. It also holds regular tango events such as milongas, a kind of tango dance party, workshops and the annual Shanghai Tango Festival, which brings in world-class tango masters to perform in the city.

During the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, TangoBang held a milonga in the Argentina Pavilion in cooperation with the Consulate General of Argentina as a way to introduce tango culture to the rest of the world.

Founded by two Taiwanese tango partners, Vivian Yeh and Charles Qiu, in 2007, TangoBang has become one of the best-known advocates of the Argentine tango in Shanghai. It has attracted thousands of tango lovers from all over the world.

"Dancing has always been an important part of my life. I began to dance when I was a child. I learned ballet, flamenco, salsa and belly dancing. But they were all solo activities. Tango is different because it can only be performed in pairs," Yeh told the Global Times. "There is so much interaction between the leader and the follower. Because they are so close to each other, they have more ways to feel the other person. One's personality is thus revealed through the tango."

Yeh first learned the tango nine years ago in Taiwan, but when she moved to Shanghai, she found there were few organized tango groups. "We established TangoBang because we hoped to dance together and share our passion for tango as a group. Besides, we have met people from all walks of life and have made many friends from across the world. It's a good way to meet people," Yeh said.

German landscape designer Andreas Luka, who moved to Shanghai two years ago, met his landlord at TangoBang. "The tango community is quite connected. I started learning tango a long time ago in Germany and I'm happy to find a tango group that I can fit in with in Shanghai," Luka told the Global Times.

Adriana Fugulin, an IT manager from Romania, joined TangoBang five years ago and met her boyfriend here. "When I first came to Shanghai, I had no friends here. But during the years in TangoBang, I learned how to dance, dress, walk in high heels and make many friends. The IT work I'm engaged in is too serious, but tango gives me a chance to relax," Fugulin told the Global Times.

Fugulin is not the only member whose dance partner is also her romantic partner. A Shanghainese woman who called herself Jessie comes to TangoBang three to five days a week with her Singaporean husband, Stanley. "I think it's important that the two of us share a common interest. We spend most of our spare time at TangoBang because it's such great fun here. We often have dinners with our tango friends and chat about everything beyond just tango itself," she said.

Tango can draw people from different countries together because it transcends language barriers and provides a sense of intimacy, security and recognition. "I like tango because it's a dance in which one is very close to the other person," said Matias Sotto, a tango instructor from Buenos Aires with more than 10 years of experience, who came to Shanghai to teach at TangoBang. "The male dancer tells the female what kind of steps he wants her to dance. Even if they speak different languages, they can communicate through body language. A good dancer can transmit his musicality to the partner and lead them effectively through the dance."

"TangoBang has brought people of different age groups together. The youngest is an 18-year-old student and the oldest is a retiree in his 70s. Even if you are not a tango dancer but just love tango music, you'll receive a warm welcome at TangoBang," Qiu said.


Dancers perform at the Shanghai Tango Festival last year.


A poster for this year's Shanghai Tango Festival

Photos: Courtesy of TangoBang


Posted in: Metro Shanghai, Dance

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