By Aaron Blevins, 7/12/2012
It takes two, but many turnout for ‘Tango Mio’
¿Quieres bailar? Whether in English or Spanish, when someone at “Tango Mio” at Leonardo’s on La Brea Avenue requests a dance, the answer is generally yes.
Every Tuesday for the last couple of years, approximately 100 people have donned formal wear, put on a smile and prepared for a night of tango dancing in Los Angeles at the local nightclub.
Hosted by Hollywood Dance Center instructor Linda Valentino, the event continues to grow, which reflects the increasing popularity of tango in the United States. Its appeal was apparent this week as participants young and old twirled on the dance floor to the sound of South American rhythms.
“The music is very beautiful, and it’s a very connected dance,” Valentino said. “You’re really dancing together with that other person.”
She said tango has been described as “a three-minute love affair,” and its effects are enticing. Valentino, like many Americans, was initially captivated by the tango after watching the Broadway performance of “Tango Argentino”. However, it wasn’t until three years later that she saw a flyer advertising a tango class in Los Angeles.
“That was it,” Valentino said. “I took one class, and I was hooked.”
And the bug spread. Lupe and Robert Sandoval, who attended the event on Tuesday, said they too are hooked. In fact, the Alhambra couple used to have carpeted floors in their home — until Robert tore it up to reveal the wooden flooring underneath, a perfect surface for practice.
The Sandovals have been married for 32 years, and were of the impression that they’d participated in just about every social event imaginable. Then, five years ago, they were titillated by the tango.
“I didn’t realize that there was this whole other world I never really ventured in,” Robert said.
They said the dance allows them to feed off one another while working as a team. Inherent in the dance is a closeness that cannot be obtained by any other social activity. And there are now a plethora of opportunities to tango in Los Angeles.
“Every day of the week you can go somewhere and tango,” Lupe said.
Laura Andrews and Norward Bible have been dancing together for about 10 years. Andrews said the tango is like one body and four legs, though it’s not about the steps. It’s about the connection, she said.
“It’s a conversation with music and passion,” Andrews said.
Bible said that, of all the dances he’s learned, tango is the one he’s going to take with him into old age. He said tango is so intimate that dancers can always find new ways to interpret the music.
“When they say no two tangos are alike, they mean it,” Bible said. “Once you’re into it, you’re not going to get out. You’re hooked for life.”
Valentino was working as a nonprofit administrator when tango entered her life in 1990. Since then, she’s visited Buenos Aires, where the dance originated, 10 times, to learn the dance and how to teach it.
“I certainly never planned it,” Valentino said of her transition.
In 1998, she began teaching tango full-time. A Miracle Mile resident, Valentino launched “Tango Mio” after somewhat randomly stopping by Candela Taco Bar & Lounge, which shares space with Leonardo’s, and expressing interest in hosting an event at the nightclub.
“It’s a great place for a tango dance,” she added.
“Tango Mio” features live music once every month, and every so often, the event hosts professional dancers from Buenos Aires. On Tuesday, Valentino hosted Leandro and Laila Oliver, internationally-acclaimed dancers from “Tango X2” and “Una Noche De Tango”.
Dennis Cante, who assists Valentino is her various dancing endeavors, said they are trying to make the tango community in Los Angeles larger and larger. He said it can be enjoyed by people of any socio-economic background.
“It’s really fun,” Cante said. “It’s so fun. …I want to share this passion with other people.”
After a few tango classes, participants will likely be set for the “Tango Mio” dance floor. Non-dancers, though, are invited to simply watch and enjoy the atmosphere. However, the tango is not too difficult to learn, but it does require more of a time commitment than other so-called “ballroom dances,” Valentino said.
“It’s also tremendously rewarding and fun,” she added.
“Tango Mio” is held from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Tuesday at Leonardo’s on La Brea Avenue. During special events or nights with live music, the cost is $15 per person. Otherwise, the cost is $12. For non-dancers, it is $8.
For information, visit www.apurotango.com.