The dancers take catlike steps, moving forward and backward, side-to-side, legs intertwining. The leader and responder hold each other in a close embrace, and although there is no tension in their framing, the dance is one of passion and intensity. While there are trapezes hanging from the roof of the Load of Funstudio, it is the tango students that hold this writer’s attention.
Christina Simpson and Mark Longerbeam have been teaching these tango classes as a part of Baltimore Tango for almost five years. They were both entranced when they first witnessed the tango. Longerbeam had his first encounter with the tango at a demonstration at the Creative Alliance.
“It was a one-time thing, and they did a demonstration of close embrace tango, and that was it,” Longerbeam says. “I had to have it. I had to do it.” After that, he drove to Washington, D.C., every Wednesday night for two years to take classes because there was no tango in Baltimore at the time.
Eventually, Longerbeam found tango classes in Baltimore and invited Simpson, his social dancing partner, to go with him. Apart from dances, Baltimore Tango has unintentionally created an ad hoc community of tango lovers in Baltimore. Along with beginner and advanced classes, Baltimore Tango also holds practicas, lessons and time to practice what they’ve learned from class, andmilongas, dances with music and no instruction. From May to October, they hold first Friday milonga dances on the pier at the end of Broadway in Fells Point. The next one is Sept. 7.
“We don’t strive to create community in tango,” Longerbeam says. “Tango is a very individual sport. You develop it on your own. You refine it as you would refine any talent, and then you can do it anywhere.”
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