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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tango Festival Offers Free Classes, Dancing, DJ

Gotan.roSebastian Arce and Mariana Montes, two of the world’s best known tango dancers, will perform at the festival.
Argentine tango was once just an exotic hobby for Muscovites, but now it has gathered thousands of followers.

This week will see up to 5,000 people head to the Moscow International Tango Festival, or “Milonguero Nights.”

The festival takes its name from the milonguero, a tango that uses a very close embrace, small steps and syncopated rhythmic footwork. It developed in the 1950s in the crowded clubs of Buenos Aires. The name has evolved to mean anyone who dances tango.

The Milonguero Nights, which start Wednesday and last to Monday, will bring the South American dance to clubs, theaters and cultural centers all over the city — and offer free classes for beginners.

“There will be daily workshops conducted by tango maestros from Argentina and Russia, dance sessions with live music played by a tango orchestra and other interesting events for tango lovers,” said Yulia Papilova, one of the organizers of the festival

The festival will showcase the best of tango music from abroad as well as homemade tango orchestras like the Soledad Orquesta. The world’s most famous tango DJ, Damian Pablo Baggio, will also play as well as up-and-coming tango stars and legends such as Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes, Mariano ‘Chicho’ Frumboli and Juana Sepulveda — whose names and moves are famous throughout the tango world.

Tango was very popular at the start of the 20th century in Russia, but the Revolution put an end to that. The dance was banned and called a “bourgeoise form of art.” It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that tango returned, and the festival is now in its seventh year.

“Tango is rapidly developing, but not many people know what it is really about,” said Alexander Vistgof, the president of the festival. “I founded this festival in order to show everyone that tango is not just an ordinary dance that people perform with a carnation in their teeth.”

Vistgof is a former historian who had his head turned by the dance. He learned tango 11 years ago, and his passion can still be felt when he talks of the dance.

“This dance is about emotions and passion. The partners dance for each other only. It is just about him and her,” he said.

The dance, he insists, can be for anyone, too.

“Tango has many sides, which is the secret of its popularity. On the one hand, it is an active pastime, but on the other the music of tango is alive. Tango lives and is in constant development. It is also a very democratic dance. Anyone can dance it — the poor and the rich, the young and the old,” he said.

Moscow International Tango Festival will open Aug. 19 with a concert at 7 p.m. Concert hall Dvorets na Yauze, 1 Ploshchad Zhuravlyova. Metro Elektrozavodskaya.

Performances will also take place on Aug. 20 and 23 at 10 p.m. at Planetango Club. 7 Khokhlovsky Pereulok. Metro Kitai-Gorod.

On Aug. 21 and 22 at 10 p.m. at Cicterna Hall Club. 26 Prospekt Mira. Metro Prospekt Mira.

The festival’s closing concert takes place Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. Theater Yunogo Zritelya (MTYuZ). 10 Mamonovsky Pereulok. Metro Tverskaya, Pushkinskaya.

Workshops will take place Aug. 20 and 21 from 5:30 to 8:15 p.m. and Aug. 22 and 23 from 2 to 7:15 p.m. at Culture club Prozhektor, Tennis club Luch. 10D, 1st Vladimirskaya Ul. Metro Perovo.

Free classes at Planetango Cafe will take place on Aug. 21 to 23, 3 to 8 p.m.

Tickets cost from 450 to 1,200 rubles. Festival.milonga.ru. Tel. 8-916-164-66-41.