Soledad Nani. Tango Instructor. Photographed for People of Tango, Paris, 2016.
In my home in Buenos Aires, we danced a lot — everything except tango, that is. But we listened to some tango because my dad is a tanguero. He grew up with the radio so he knows the name of the song, the orchestra and the singer. He knows everything – but he doesn’t dance.
Hanging out at my friend’s grandfather’s house, we found a notebook filled with tango lyrics. My friends started to connect with the poetry of tango; some of them learned to play tango on the guitar, Gardel style. So, through them, I starting discovering tango.
One day we decided to go and learn to dance. We went to a club in Villa Urquiza. I told the professor the first day, “I’d like to learn both roles.” He told me, “I don’t teach women to lead.” So I left. I went to another club in the neighborhood and when I told them I wanted to lead, the teacher said, “No problem, but why don’t you start in one role and get comfortable with that before you try the other.”
For the first month, I practiced just following. But I have good visual memory so when I got home after class, I could do both roles, just from watching. One day in class, there were only 5 or 6 guys but there were 20 women waiting to dance. So I said, “to hell with it” and I danced each and every one of the them. After that I never stopped.
We started going to traditional milongas. When we went in a group, we danced among ourselves. People stared at me when they saw me leading. And then there’s my deep voice, so they got really confused. But then they’d nod approvingly. “Nice dancing,” they’d say.
The ladies who were waiting to dance started smiling at me. They were sitting there and nobody was asking them, so I started dancing with the ladies. To this day, there are milongas where, when I enter, the ladies shout my name: “SOLE! SOLE!” They get happy because we’re going to dance.