While the usual traffic circled the many lanes around Philadelphia’s Logan Square, people gathered on one edge of the enormous Swan Fountain Thursday. It was tango night, part of a month-long series of events celebrating the richness of Fairmount Park’s public art.
It takes 20 to tango, two by two of course. Last night Logan Square became a tango plaza, reminiscent of street parties in old Buenos Aires. Experienced dancers, university tango clubs and aficionados came together simply to share the passion and sensuality that gives tango its fame. This is the real thing, full of drama and improvisation not the more visible, choreographed versions you might see on Dancing with the Stars says Kristina McFadden, co-founder of the Urban Tango school.
“Argentine tango is born as a social dance, it’s something that you dance socially, not something that you perform,” said McFadden. “That the roots of Argentine tango were there and they’re still there. So when you go and watch a show like “Dancing with the Stars” yes, that’s choreographed, but that’s not what Argentine tango is about. It’s about dancing on the fly.”
It’s the intimacy and harmony that gives the dance its spirit. When you are dancing there’s nothing else that matters says Argentinean dancer Roberto Pena, named one of the winners at the event.
“Something that people don’t know about tango. They say it takes two to tango, this is something that’s not true. It takes three. In the middle, if you are lucky, once in a while, you have this feeling and it’s three, because it has the same feeling as a person. You have this feeling. You have that and it’s magic, it’s magic,” said Pena.
The setting for the tango party was not chosen haphazardly, it was here that starting in 1924 hundreds of Philadelphians got together weekly to dance and celebrate at Swan fountain. They did the waltz, fox-trot, tango and other popular dances, jazz moves were frowned upon as indecent.
It was not a big leap says Penny Balkin Bach , Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Art Association, to bring back tango as part of celebrating public art.
“I’m really liking the social environment and that’s what public art can do. It creates a great space for people to come together. and look at them, dancing with people they don’t know,” said Balkin Bach.
Tango night was the first of a series of “Site Seeing” public art events organized by the Art Association to showcase Fairmount Park’s treasures and secrets.