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The not‑so‑forbidden dance

Traditional tango takes over the University Club this weekend

- January 15, 2014

(photo courtesy Tomás Howlin)
(photo courtesy Tomás Howlin)

The Great Hall in the University Club is going to be turned into an Argentine ballroom this weekend when professional dancer Tomás Howlin brings his national dance to Dal.

Growing up in the midst of the “Dirty War” in Argentina, Howlin experienced a period from 1976 to 1983 when tango cafes were closed by the government, tango radio broadcasts and shows were banned, and tango schools were shut. People were banned from gathering in groups, and dancers were arrested.

It was in that environment that Howlin first learned tango from the elderly people in his neighbourhood. He has since performed for 34 heads of state, danced for and taught classes to Cirque du Soleil, and even acted as Jackie Chan’s tango double in The Tuxedo.

“Tango is not in the feet, it is in the heart,” says Howlin.

After the political situation in Argentina began to improve after 1983, tango made its way back into the forefront of Argentine culture. It’s now popular around the world—including amongst a growing community in Halifax.

On Friday, January 17, from 8–11 p.m., Howlin will give a presentation on tango music followed by a guided practice. On Saturday evening he will DJ a milonga social dance.

“It’s not going to be a wild party, it’s going to be a restrained party,” says Michael Scott, a longtime member of the local tango community.

He explains that unlike movies depicting regular tango as a dance with “people with flowers in their mouths”, milonga—classical Argentinian tango of the 1930s and 40s—is a little more retro and a little more restrained than regular tango.

Aside from an excellent workout, Scott says the nicest thing about tango is the connection two people make dancing together, without talking.

“It’s not like music you’ve ever heard before,” he says.

Tickets for Friday’s class and lecture are $20 while Saturday’s milonga is $5 per person. Both nights are free for university students (ID required). Tickets are available at the door.



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