Lucky for me I had a week to kill before I started my new job here near Wheeling, WV, and so I had a great opportunity to check out Pittsburgh’s multitude of tango offerings. Let me tell you that this is the youngest tango community I’ve ever come across and it is huge! There are lots of tango venues here in and all around the University of PIttsburgh.
Ladies, now hear this! Pittsburgh is LEADER heavy! That means there are too many leaders and too few followers. So please, get your butts up here and even out the numbers!
By far the best, as well as the most unique tango spot was the Milonga @ Rich’s located in the RJW Law Office on a Penn Avenue that is under heavy construction. There are two milongas here simultaneously on the first Friday of the month.
Upstairs there’s classic tango broadcast in a tiny office space. It is strewn with posters of Obama and relics of the Virgin Mary. I think it really is a working legal factory for the masses of Pittsburgh’s proletariat class. Vehicle titles and yellow carbon copies litter a desk at the far end of the room where a laptop executes the night’s music playlist.
It is a very casual scene.
Downstairs are the restrooms, an anteroom where finger foods and empanadas are offered on a small tray before you enter the main ballroom called the Dance Emporium. This place has ambiance that rivals that of the milonga at De Las Puertas in Albuquerque, NM. It does not have the size but it definitely has steel beams of character.
The walls are covered with posters of our President as Comrade Obama and the ceiling is strung with ancient bike parts welded onto plumbing fixtures.
Did I say restrooms? That might not be an accurate description but relief can be found and they are clean(at least the boys room was).
A man who introduced himself as Rob greeted me as soon as I walked in. He was in the middle of a dance with a young lady but that didn’t stop him from fulfilling his duties as a host. He’s a BIG guy: tall and heavy; yet he is a surprisingly talented leader, especially with the colgadas.
I would like to lead colgadas like him before I leave here, if I ever do leave.
It was early and there were five extra leaders. A man came over to play twenty questions and he informed me that Pittsburgh was leader heavy. He promised the odds would even out later and they did around 11 p.m.
I attended several more events over the next seven days and had quite a few conversations with members of the local tango tribe. I feel confident now that I can offer a reasonable account of the state of tango in the Steel City.
Apparently the population surge of young tangueros is a recent occurrence. Tango has been around here in the home of the Steelers since 1995 and there is a solid core of experienced dancers here. I did not notice a dominant style, in fact, I experienced almost all of them, from Milonguero-style or close embrace, to tango salon and nuevo tango.
For a complete and extremely accurate listing of all of P-burg’s tango check out their webpage: http://www.pittsburghtangueros.org/
Almost all of the events I attended were within two miles of the university. Most of the dance floors were small but there are a few genuine dance ballrooms here.
This town is big on its tango offerings. Just last night I attended a workshop taught by Javier Antar and Kara Wenham. I’ve been here less than a week and already I’ve attended three milongas and two practicas. Sweet!
It looks like the Kayak Hombre got lucky on this job assignment. Great tango only 70 miles away and did I say that I’ve always been a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers? I think I might even get a chance to attend one of their games. Now where is my Terrible Towel?
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