Philadelphia “tangueros” were out in full force last weekend. Neither heat nor sweat, nor busy readers at the Free Library of Philadelphia, were an obstacle to the tango’s pull.
Busy readers? You might ask. Well, yes. The Free Library’s music department opened its doors and grand hall for an afternoon of dance. Couples were swirling between bookshelves. Pop-up virtuoso tango vignettes enlivened usually silent reading rooms and for the grand finale: an open dance invitation to experience tango nuevo.
The cool, cavernous hall at the central branch became a somewhat shadowy ballroom reminiscent of an old Buenos Aires atmosphere. But according to the angle you looked at it, one more turn and the doors to the sunlit Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the background made it a totally Philadelphia experience. Another swirl, and the imposing staircase gave a movie-like backdrop to the dancers’ movements.
Experienced dancers mingled with more tentative couples who were slowly unraveling the complicated choreography of well-placed legs, tight embraces and joyous complicity driven by the music. Oh, yes, I like tango and apparently other Philadelphians do, too, and there are enough groups and dance schools in the city to feed the passion, including Dance Philadelphia Argentine Tango and Philadelphia Argentine Tango School. A bailar!