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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 09
Queer Seattle Tango lures dancers to Century Ballroom
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Queer Seattle Tango lures dancers to Century Ballroom

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The creators of Queer Seattle Tango are proud to offer a welcoming space for people who want to learn to tango with same-sex partners, as well as for women who primarily want to lead and men who primarily want to follow. The dances are hosted, run, and attended by people who identify as LGBT or Queer, as well as our allies.

'Tango is like a dancing hug,' says Anna Kotelnikova, who leads and follows in Queer Seattle Tango. 'Tango is like a lover who lures you in with subtleties - a glance, a breath, a slight turn of the head or the ankle. Easy to miss, but hard to resist.'

Queer tango is growing in popularity throughout the world. Seattle is already on the map, with dancers coming in from San Francisco, Portland, Boston, and Vancouver B.C. for our Queer Milongas and advanced workshops.

'Queer tango is great in that it breaks down traditional gender roles,' Blaine Reed, a Queer Seattle Tango organizer, told Seattle Gay News. 'You can be whatever you want to be, which I have found makes really strong, dynamic dancers in the community because of the freedom to learn both roles.'

Blaine says that dancing tango 'settles me into my own body because I have to connect with my own body axis in order to effectively connect with my dance partner's axis. By the time the dancing is done, I feel like I've shared a really intimate experience for just a brief moment of time.'

Max Kepler, who created Queer Seattle Tango, says, 'Queer tango encourages people to be who they are and to express their passions, needs, and desires through dance without having to conform to traditional gender roles or the norms of heterosexual culture.' 'We are very lucky here in Seattle because our Queer Tango dance community is a most playful and welcoming group of men and women who love to share their enthusiasm for this captivating and highly improvisational partner dance,' she said.

Blaine said that, for him personally, after years of wishing for something like Queer tango, 'it just suddenly appeared before me.'

'I give Max all the credit for creating the community,' he continued. 'I just jumped on board because it was what I always imagined in my dancing life.'

The story begins in late 2009, as Max was looking for a place to practice and dance with other women and realized that there wasn't already an existing Queer tango scene in Seattle. After asking around and getting lots of positive feedback from friends and other tango dancers who wanted the same thing, she initiated group classes in February 2010.

According to Max, thanks to a great deal of support from the community (Sara Thomsen at The Loft and Hallie Kuperman at the Century Ballroom), the scene has been growing and thriving.

'There is quite a bit to tango that can make it seem overwhelming at first, but it really is just a walking dance,' explains Blaine. 'Throw in a little musicality and a dash of sexy class, and voila! The tango!'

According to Queer Seattle Tango officials, there are a lot of misconceptions about tango being over-dramatic, extremely athletic, or hard to learn. 'In fact, it is an improvisational dance based on walking together with a partner at a slow to moderate pace,' said Max. 'The basics can be learned in one hour. At the same time, there is a great deal of depth and subtlety to the dance, and enough complexity to keep me interested for over 14 years.'

The Century Ballroom hosts a Queer Milonga on the first Saturday of each month in the East Hall. The DJ spins a playful mix of classic and nuevo tango music, with some swing and waltz between tango sets, just for fun. East Hall is decorated for an elegant evening out on the town. Some weeks there are surprise performances. This is considered the friendliest tango event in town. All are welcome. Dressing up is highly encouraged.

'The monthly Milongas are fabulous,' said Blaine. 'First a great location central to everything on the Hill, and in a beautifully renovated ballroom. Second, a really fun evening spent socializing and hopefully getting some good dances in. And third, it's something different - even if you choose not to dance, it's really cool just to sit and watch other couples dance while enjoying refreshing libation and being somewhere different besides the normal bar you might go to on a Saturday night.'

Queer Seattle Tango is celebrating their one-year anniversary with a party March 5 inside the East Hall at Century Ballroom (915 E Pine.) from 9 p.m. to midnight. This is a 21+ event. For more information about classes and the anniversary party, visit www.queerseattletango.com.

'We are about to celebrate our one-year anniversary,' said Max. 'We are expecting over 100 dancers, including visitors and special guests from other Queer tango scenes from San Francisco, Portland, and Vancouver, B.C.'

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