After a few years hiatus, queer Argentine tango classes have returned to Sydney’s Oxford St.
Keen dancers can head to the Colombian Hotel on Tuesday nights. Classes start at 6pm, followed by a social practice from 7-8.30pm.
Vio Saraza is the founder of Queer Tango Boston and Queer Tango Wellington, with both community organisations continuing to thrive after her departure from those cities. She hopes to reboot what was once a lively queer tango scene in Sydney.
Beyond the beauty and sex appeal of the dance, Saraza is interested in tango’s contribution to self-confidence.
“Tango dancers know how to walk across a room showing everything off and feeling great about ourselves,” she said.
Saraza will also teach workshops looking at how tango can enhance ‘gender performance’ as a special collaboration with the Gender Centre (for information on these classes, call Rainbow Queer Tango on 0478 397 203).
“[Embracing tango] is the first time I really felt totally femme, although I have a femme appearance. And at the same time, leading tango has helped me embody my butch,” Saraza said.
“As a leader, I walk and move and touch another person in this really gracious, tender, masculine way. As a follower, I can move in a way that is a fantasy of femininity. It feels like being the ballerina on top of a jewellery box.”
But not all queer dancers take extreme gender roles, Saraza said. There are many ways of dancing tango, and many ways of queering it as well.
She encourages people who’ve found other styles of dance unengaging to try tango.
“There are fewer rules. If you love music, you can dance tango because it’s a framework to work with any part of the music,” she said.
“You can dance to the melody, [or] to the singer if you want. It’s about moving with your partner, no matter what – and that’s built into us as animals.”
Tango is best done sober, and therefore is a great alternative to the bar scene. Classes will be held in the Colombian’s upstairs room, so it won’t be an alcohol-centred event.
No partner is needed for tango, as you can experience an intense connection with many different partners during a lesson. Couples and singles are welcome.