Tango heats up the Vail Sonnenalp | VailDaily.com
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Tango heats up the Vail Sonnenalp

Dozens of people were at Saturday's tango-blues fusion dance lessons at the Sonnenalp.
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VAIL – Tango is like life, and comes with directions so simple they should sink the entire self-help industry.

“Point your heart in the direction you want your partner to go,” said Deb Sclar, an instructor at last Saturday’s tango-blues fusion dance lessons at the Sonnenalp.

You don’t need a GPS to find your way around a tango dance floor. I know. I asked my GPS for tango directions and it told me, “Take your life for a test drive. Do not be afraid to fail.”



And around 150 or so of us did. Community Minded Dance from Denver sent the instructors, Sclar and Brian Dunn, and several dancers for good measure so we’d see how it’s supposed to look.

And that’s the thing. Tango looks like life. It’s a little different for everyone, but if you feel the music and help your partner feel it too, you’ll look radiant.



Like life, in tango there’s some basic stuff you have to do. But, like life, it generally revolves around enveloping those close to you with the best your soul can give.

And you might make what appears to be a mistake, but is it really?

“No mistakes in the tango, not like life. It’s simple. That’s what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on,” says Lt. Col. Frank Slade, who’s really Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.”



The Sonnenalp brought the event to Vail, in partnership with the Vail International Dance Festival. They’re bringing the next one back on Valentine’s Day.

Dunn and Sclar were accompanied by adorable young professional dancers. Watch them, then the rest of us, and the behavior patterns soon become obvious.

Beginners want to dance like intermediates; intermediates want to dance like advanced dancers; advanced dancers want to dance like the greats; but the greats always go back to basics.

Two steps forward and one step back was never this much fun.

But what really becomes obvious is that tango contains all the stuff of life: pain, pleasure, passion, excitement, connection, freedom, torment and bliss.

Chef Steve Topple’s dinner was a marvelous beginning to the evening. Partnered with the herb-crusted lamb rack, garlic mashed potatoes, zucchini stew in mint chimichurri sauce was eggplant so good that I ate it and liked it. In fact, it was so good that when one woman at our table looked at me deadpan and said, “You know you’re eating eggplant,” I still ate it.

When dinner was done, the staff cleared the tables and Ludwig’s became a milonga, a place where the tango is danced. Turns out that’s pretty much everywhere Caryn Carrasco can be found.

Carrasco helps run Community Minded Dance (cmDance). cmDance is a non-profit arts organization in Colorado dedicated to the education and preservation of Golden Era music and dance. Last fall semester, they taught jazz and swing dance classes in 25 Head Start classrooms and five high schools.

They teach all sorts of dances to all sorts of people.

“The Argentinean tango and the Lindy Hop, these are dances that rose up from the people. All dance is great, and all dance is created on the fly,” Carrasco said.

Some less enlightened souls say you should only do one kind of dance during an evening. They’re mistaken, of course, Carrasco said.

“Why do we have to choose?” she asked.

So they started Hot Night/Tango Blues Fusion in Denver back in 2004. They go about every week in Denver and the vision is to come to Vail once or twice a month. Valentine’s Day is next on the tango hit parade. Call 970-479-5420 to learn more.


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