Tango is from Argentina, but like Salsa – it is danced worldwide and appreciated in many places. Tango in the Coffee Axis has a long history and a special place in local culture. The most famous city for Tango is Manizales, Colombia – which has already produced some world tango champions, and will probably produce more.

History of Tango in the Coffee Axis

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A scene from Tiempo de Tango – Manizales, Caldas

Even though its native home is Argentina, it quickly became an international sensation. As the first theaters began to open in Colombia during the 1920’s, Tango in the Coffee Axis, quickly became a theme that was revisited frequently on the silver screen. The dance quickly gained prominence along with other common dances of the era including the Milonga, Foxtrot, Paso Doble, Vals and Bolero along with Colombian salsa, cumbia and pasillo.

Today, tango has lost ground slightly, but is still greatly admired and danced throughout the Coffee Axis and even much of Colombia. We are going to show you the local culture and where you can go to learn to dance!

Where to Dance Tango in the Coffee Axis

There are clubs in Pereira, Manizales and Armenia which specialize in Tango. It is a very interesting scene because, much like in the US dance scene, the people who dance it also study it on an ongoing basis. The result, a dance scene which allows for more exchange of dance partners.

Calle del Tango – Manizales

Tango in the Coffee Axis

Carlos Arturo Garcia lives what he teaches each Saturday night in the social settings of Tango in the Coffee Axis.

The only one of its type in the world, the “Calle del Tango” is a conglomeration of 3-4 different bars and clubs which specialize mainly in Argentinian Rhythms like Tango, Milonga, Bolero and Valse.

Calle del Tango is the Calle 24 between Carrera 22 and Carrera 23, only one block from the main Cathedral and Plaza Bolivar.

Be sure to visit on weekends to see the local talent, dance culture and nightlife. Even if you aren’t much of a tango dancer, most of the tango bars play a mix of tango, milonga, valse, rancherito Argentino, bolero, pasodoble, cumbia and salsa.

Generally in Colombia you go to the bar in a group and dance only within that group. In tango situations, it is more common to dance with a variety of local dancers. Try to always use your good sense, you are not obligated to dance with people who you don’t feel comfortable with or who have been drinking to excess.

If you would like to take a special dance tour with trained dancers who can provide private dance tutelage as well as accompany you on your night out (Latin or Argentinian Rhythms) email us for more information at PereiraCityGuide@gmail.com

Where to Dance in Pereira

Pereira also has a tango scene albeit a bit smaller, but no less important because there are several clubs which specialize in it and a medium small following of enthusiasts. In el Centro (or downtown), there are several places where you can go dance the Argentinian dances. It is notable to mention that the Latin dances (salsa, merengue, cumbia, vallenato) are often included as well, especially on weekends. Here are a couple which we recommend.

  • La Milonguita  Cra. 7 # 25 – 27
  • Milonga 900     Calle 24 #5 – 19

Where to See a Tango Show in Pereira

The Argentinian music has a very special place in the hearts and imaginations of Colombia. For many, it has been constant since childhood and all have special memories related to certain songs and dances. There are associations and clubs all over Colombia for Tango/Milonga aficionados of which some are rumored to go all night drinking aguardiente and only listening to the music.

More Tango event info: facebook.com/FesTangoPereira/ and nocturnodetangos.com

As an added bonus, now local residents and visitors can experience the magic and grace of Tango dance each month. There is also a yearly event “Festivo de Tango de Pereira” which is celebrating its 7th annual celebration in 2018. Be sure to pick up tickets early as these events are almost always sold out prior!

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Where to Learn Tango

There are many class options in both Pereira and Manizales. The one we like best, is Dancing Tango. A partnership between an American and a Colombian, brings dance with English translation, as needed. With a focus on technique and usability, you will learn in a way that will allow you to dance beautifully no matter where you go.

How long does it take to learn Tango in the Coffee Axis?

Unlike other Latin dances, there are more layers of communication and technique required, so it is a bit more of a process. Part of that process is to understand the basic skills which ensure balance and proper form. Argentinian Tango is a dance that relies on deeper perceptions and subtle signals. It’s a beautiful combination of cat-like agility and musicality. Everything works towards that magical moment where you are able to enter the dance floor and live the passion, rhythm and deep connectedness.

Expect to spend about six months in lessons before you really start to feel comfortable and confident on the dance floor. Once you learn the basics the sky is the limit. Argentine tango is danced in all major cities in the world from Beijing to New York and what you learn here will apply. With a good fundamental base of technique you will be able to dance with style and class.

What should I wear?

In a class setting, comfortable street clothes are typically worn. Definitely dress on the light side. While the exercise isn’t strenuous, it will definitely challenge you and warm you up a bit. Dance shoes which offer a bit of heel elevation and with smooth bottoms which turn easily are a must. For custom design dance shoes we recommend Angela Arias, based in Pereira. facebook.com/angelaariasshoes/

In a social dance setting, the dress code is a bit more formal than the average nightclub. Women will often where dresses or slacks with nice blouses and dance shoes. Men often wear the loose fitting black slacks, a button up shirt and maybe even a vest or fedora (in some cases). Be careful about wearing a fedora here as it is still respected in many places, as a sign of a master dancer.

Who is Carlos Arturo Garcia?

From childhood his family had always played the tango music in their home. For most of his adulthood he has danced in some form, initially in an empirical way, and later with technique and style. His studies and passion for the topic has taken him to places like Medellin, Cali and Bogota where he studied technique from dancers, many of which were from Buenos Aires.

With more than 20 years of experience. Carlos Garcia has helped many dancers create a formation which has successfully gone anywhere that tango is danced. Now you can experience the knowledge and technique he has to offer in a friendly studio setting in Manizales.

 

For more information on classes in Manizales, follow his Facebook page: facebook.com/DancingEjeCafetero/

 

Conclusion

With style and grace, tango is loved and danced around the world. The dancers themselves are people who have a deep well of passion, dedication and love for what they do.  Tango in the Coffee Axis is a world of elegance and romance. Come and experience a culture which has more than 100 years of tradition!

Owner/Editor of OpenMindedTraveler.com, Erin is also the Project Administrator/Editor of Pereira City Guide.com - She has been living in Pereira, Colombia for several years.

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