Rick McGerry's blog, "Tango and Chaos", is full of videos and discussion about the culture of tango in Buenos Aires, It is worth exploring for hours.
Argentine Tango, From Buenos Aires to the World
Argentine Tango has a well-deserved reputation as a sultry and complex dance. Born in the nightclubs of Buenos Aires, tango in modern days has an athletic stage version, a dancing-with-the-stars ballroom version, and a street version "the way it is danced today in Buenos Aires". Starting in the mid 1990s the popularity of Argentine Tango surged across the US.
Denver has a reputation as one of the most dynamic and active tango cities in the US. The Denver tango scene started with a small band of aficianados who made the pilgrimage to Buenos Aires in 1996, and grew into a thriving dance club with 400-500 members. With Denver as a hub, Argentine Tango is studied and danced across Colorado, from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs to Grand Junction.
The growth of tango in Colorado owes much to Tango Colorado, a non-profit dance group with the mission of fostering interest in tango through dances, lessons and outreach. Tango Colorado began in 1996 when local dancers needing a space to dance joined the Denver Turnverein, a 100 year old german club East of Downtown Denver. Tango Colorado nurtured and helped renovate the Turnverein into a facility that welcomes dancing most nights of the week.
Tuesday Evening Tango at the Denver Turnverein
Looking in on the Tuesday Argentine Tango "practice" sponsored by Tango Colorado, the visitor sees over 100 people, couples, singles, old and young. The room is arranged like a well-lit dance hall, with red-covered tables for guests to chat and share a glass of wine or good German beer. The mournful cry typical of tango music comes from the bandoneon, a bellows instrument of the accordion family. When the music starts, dancers, look across the room to confirm a new partner with a glance. By tradition, the gentleman approaches the lady's table, as she rises to meet him on the dance floor.
The embrace is close, the footsteps intricate, the visitor wonders "How does he move so smoothly" and "How does she know when to do that leg-flick thing".
At the end of a three or four song set, the dancers thank each other, and the leader walks the lady back to her table.
Twice-Yearly Tango Festivals in Denver
Denver plays host to two large Tango Festivals each year over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. For 15 years these festivals were Produced by Tom Stermitz drawing 300-400 tango fanatics from around the country. In 2015, Tom turned over the Labor Day Festival to John Miller & Jessica Cutler, and the Memorial Day Festival to Peter Simoneau &Alla Lakov. The Denver Tango Festivals are two of the top ten tango destinations in the US. Professional tango teachers from around the world present classes, top DJs entertain for 7 milongas (dance parties) from Thursday through dawn on Monday. Tango Colorado puts on a glorious outdoor milonga at the Cheesman Park Pavilion, with barbeque. 500 tango dancers swirl under the pavilion lights as the sun goes down over the Denver Skyline.