Yuyo Brujo

Hecho con el corazón

How coffee can help your tango practice

Carolyn WestComment

(Spoiler, this is not about antioxidants)

Caffeine can help your tango in many ways. It improves circulation, memory retention (to remember all those tango moves), and let’s not forget that it also fuels your muscles to actually practice. But did you know that coffee can help your tango beyond these functional abilities? Keep reading to find out more.

Illustration by Sarah Vonthron-Laver

Illustration by Sarah Vonthron-Laver

Tango isn’t always easy. It’s a dance that takes a long time to master. You begin by doing, going to class, practicing at home and watching the pros whenever you can. But what if I told you that a simple cup of coffee after class with your teacher and peers could help you understand tango on a deeper level?

I had a teacher many years ago, and after class, we would go to a cafe for coffee with a small group of students. This was a casual and simple affair, only for those who wanted to join and completely unscheduled… and it was as powerful as the class before it.

These gatherings started out as a social affair, but inevitably we would talk about the class, and tango in general. Through these debates I got a clearer understanding that you transfer your weight on the beat but you extend your leg before the beat… Eureka!

In class I was always too busy trying to do this move to even think to ask about it, but after a few days of reflection, coffee provided the right time and place to ask a question that I couldn’t before.

Our chats were not always about this step or that move. There were more discussions about “what is tango” and its cultural heritage of a particular region. I remember learning about the different orchestras and “moods” associated with them, getting recommendations of what music to listen to and even deciphering some of the lunfardo (typical local slang) in the lyrics.

Of course we were very lucky that our teacher encouraged us to ask questions, discuss concepts and ideas about tango, and he generously contributed his time and experience.

However, even when he couldn’t join, some of us would still go for a drink. It was baffling how sometimes each of us understood something that was said in class in very different ways! By talking to each other we also resolved some of these dilemmas… and yes, there was also a bit of live practice in the middle of the street (who hasn’t done that, right?).

In a class, a teacher is under a lot of pressure to teach many people in a short time. Sometimes there isn’t room for deeper discussion or individual tutorials, and sometimes, you need a space to introspect and venture a position you formed yourself. This is where a cup of coffee can elevate you. It’s a moment and a place where you can exchange knowledge and learn by discussing with words rather than movement.

Think of it like an extra layer to your tango practice.

Talking to your peers or an experienced teacher in an informal setting can really help you, it certainly helped me and also inspired me to keep going back to class.

Whether it’s a skinny soya latte, builder’s tea, or a gluten-free beer, a post-class social interaction could boost your learning tenfold, and you can make some friends along the way!