ARTango: Passport To Argentina
Established communities of LGBT Tango dancers already exist in Berkeley, Boston and San Francisco. There’s even an annual Queer Tango Festival in Stockholm, Sweden. Now Shafqat Manzur has brought Tango to Chicago’s LGBT community. Specifically, the passionate and increasingly popular Argentine Tango.
Five years ago, Manzur came across a National Geographic article about Argentine Tango, and from there ARTango was conceived. And now settled into its new dance and performance space at 4011 N. Ravenswood, ARTango aims to give Argentine Tango to our city, definitely including the LGBTQ community.
"I was aware of the queer tango scene in San Francisco and Berkeley and wanted to do something similar in Chicago," Manzur said, "We decided to approach the GLBT community as it has no presence in the Argentine Tango community."
Argentine Tango is a social dance and a musical genre that originated in Argentina, moved to Uruguay, and later was influenced by Europe and North America. The dance is defined by close embraces and a reliance on improvisation. It’s also very sexy.
"I did not know anything about the dance but found the story and history of the dance captivating," says Manzur. "Argentine tango is not just a dance, it is the story of immigrant workers longing for their families and countries. It is the product of a fusion of multiple cultures mixed with nostalgia, tragedy and uncertainty in a new land.
"There is a show element in most dances. Argentine tango dancers dance for each other," says Manzur of the dance, "This dance also brings people together and can create strong bonds within the community."
The ARTango Center opened Nov. 1. It offers a brand new hardwood floor, a sunroof, 18’ ceilings, and a state-of-the-art lights and sound system.
"We want to offer separate lessons where men will feel comfortable following and women will feel comfortable leading," says Manzur. "We can also arrange queer tango nights for dances.
"My partners and I want to expand the Argentine Tango community in Chicago. It need not be a niche dance and can and should be accessible to the larger market," Manzur said of his motivation behind opening ARTango. The space is conveniently located on the intersection of Irving Park and Ravenswood Avenue and accessible from I-94, Lake Shore Drive, Brown and Red Line, ample parking available. For more information visit http://www.tangoshusheta.com/
A Sampling of Classes at ARTango:
7:30 - 9:00 p.m. Beginner Level Tango
9:00 - 10:30 p.m. Intermediate/Advanced Tango
$15 drop in or session 6 weeks $75
Every Friday Milonga Éclectique
8:30 - 10:00 pm Complementary class by Milton (All Levels)
10:00 - 3:00 am Éclectique Milonga: DJ: El Turco (Great selection of Golden Age, Alternative and Electrotango music) Coffee, tea, light snacks, BYOB $15/$10 (for students with ID).
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=33001685747
Kilian Melloy contributed to this article.