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2002 NEW ORLEANS TANGOFEST   Leave a comment

Top-flight tango dancers from around the United States, Canada and Argentina, arrived the weekend of August 23-25 for classes, dinners, and a show that gave New Orleans a taste of Argentina, where it all began.

The three days of workshops, dancing, food and drinks, as well as various social events, culminated with the spectacular centerpiece of the three day event, a professional Tango Show, with live music, dinner and social dancing, held at the beautiful International Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel.

Headliners of the first New Orleans TangoFest were Miriam Larici, star of the Broadway show “Forever Tango,” and Hugo Patyn, of the Oscar-nominated film “Tango.” Bringing the beat for Larici and Patyn were Miguel Arrabal, Jorge Vernieri and Ramses Colon who played Argentine tango music. Completing the professional line up, were Alberto Paz and Valorie Hart, who came to New Orleans in 1999 for a teaching gig; the two never left. They danced their authentic, smooth, elegant tango as danced in Buenos Aires in the ‘40s.

Jorge Vernieri
Ranses Colon
Miguel Arrabal
Valorie Hart-Alberto Paz
Miriam Larici- Hugo Patyn
Miriam Larici- Hugo Patyn

In the tango world — which aficionados believe is a state of mind as well as a physical pastime — the time-honored method of both inviting someone to dance and accepting the request is eye contact and a head nod. This speaks highly of politeness, courtesy and above all about avoiding uncomfortable and at times embarrassing experiences.

Eye contact and a head nod won’t get you in to TangoFest,” warned the Times Picayune in their Lagniappe section, inviting people to make their reservations right away.

The Gambit Weekly‘s Frank Etheridge wrote, “It takes ‘two to tango,’ is a cliche in both meaning and use, as it can represent anything for a call to partner up in a game of bridge to a smirking reference for you-know-what. But to many, the sensuous and sultry dance is an art form, and a perfect match for the rhythm of New Orleans. Consider the popularity of Planet Tango, a local group led by Alberto Paz, a native of Argentina, and Valorie Hart, a U.S. native, that regularly brings social dances and classes to Uptown within their format of developing education on, and appreciation of, Argentine tango.

As if New Orleans isn’t hot enough in the summer, the first TangoFest generated a lot of extra heat with its three theme milongas, which started Friday night at the House of Tango in Uptown New Orleans, continued Saturday night at the International Ballroom overlooking the city lights and the Mississippi river, and ended with a bang Sunday night at Muriel’s Restaurant on historic Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter.

Opening night at the House of Tango
Opening night at the House of Tango
View of the Mississippi Dining room at the Doubletree
Dining room at the Doubletree Dining room at the Doubletree
The South Americans
Miriam, Alberto, Linda, Hugo
Alberto and Valorie
Miriam and Hugo