Sway to go
Red Tango milonga
“If I go to New York, if I go to San Francisco—in May I went to Paris—the first thing I do, the first night I’m there, I’m dancing tango,” said Julia Auzmendi. “Especially for me, that I’m from Buenos Aires, even if I’m in Rome, Paris … Reno—I dance tango, and it’s like I’m at home.”
After moving to Reno two years ago, she started an organization called Reno Tango Collective.
“It’s mostly for organizing milongas—that is the typical tango evening dance event of Buenos Aires,” Auzmendi said. “And then we are also trying to teach, not dance, but everything else that’s related to tango.”
The Reno Tango Collective isn’t a registered nonprofit, at least not yet, but its four members’ outreach goals fit the bill for one.
“Through our group, we try to show and share with people what we know as tango and what we love about tango,” Auzmendi said. “That is not only the dance, but it’s also the history of the music style that is from Buenos Aires—and with that comes the history of a city, the history of immigration … graphic arts, cinema.”
The Reno Tango Collective’s teaching goals are geared toward introducing people to tango, but monthly milongas the group hosts at Craft Wine and Beer, 22 Martin St., often attract a crowd of regulars. Tango instructors and spouses Victoria Randlett and Zak Brown are among them. They say the community of regulars at Craft milongas and others in town is natural to tango.
“It’s a very intense dance form, and it requires you to really be personally present and intensely involved in it while it’s happening,” Randlett said. “I think that attracts a certain kind of person, but it also fosters that kind of connection and communication among people who dance it. … When you get there through the dance, you find that you make those kinds of connections to the people you dance with on some level you don’t with most people in your life.”
Randlett and Brown have been teaching lessons at the Reno Ballroom and private lessons for seven years now. They met on a dance floor in Sacramento more than a decade ago and kept up a long-distance relationship for a time, during which Randlett lived in Reno and Brown travelled often for work. During his travels, he discovered there are few places around the nation, or the world, without milongas.
“In Lincoln, Nebraska, you could dance four nights a week,” he said.
What’s rarer, especially in small communities, said Brown, is the chance to attend a milonga featuring live music.
The Red Tango has performed locally as a string quartet for about four years. It’s comprised of members of the Reno Philharmonic, including violist Catherine Matovich and violinist Olga Archdekin. The pair recalls the first time dancers appeared during one of their performances.
“We played it for ourselves,” Matovich said. “Basically, we wanted a great excuse to drink wine—and it felt like the sexiest music to play. And then we went and played a concert somewhere … and the dancers showed up, and we were like, ’What?’”
They have since played a few milongas, to which they’ve incorporated a stand-up bass. Now, they’ve joined Brown, Randlett and Auzmendi in organizing another at the Saint, 761 S. Virginia St., on Oct. 21. They’re hoping the midtown location might bring in a crowd and some tango newbies.
“You dance. We’ll play,” said Archdekin.