Author: Danielle Christopher
Over 80 students squeezed into Pauley’s MLK lounge last Wednesday evening to learn how to ballroom dance. New to Occidental’s campus this year, Oasis Tango Club strives to promote appreciation of Argentinian Tango by teaching members how to dance while utilizing the unique style of tango.
Oasis Tango president Alexander Keat (sophomore) founded the club after spending the summer dancing tango for three hours a day, five days a week. “For me, tango is an addiction,” Keat said. “When I go and dance, I am so present in the moment. For me that is my oasis. I leave my shit at the door and say ‘This is my space, this is my oasis, this is my time to connect with others. My time to be completely present with no worries in the world.'”
Keat created Oasis Tango to share his passion for tango dance with the Occidental community, and he welcomes anyone interested in learning. “All levels of experience are welcome because tango is a new and different type of dance,” Keat said. “It’s not very structured, it’s all improvisation, and that’s what makes it awesome.”
This year, one of the main goals of Oasis Tango is teaching members to be comfortable dancing and connecting with one another. “Tango is an interesting new subject for most people,” Vice President Joshua Snipper (sophomore) said. “It is a way of meeting new people and learning how to dance a social dance that can be done anywhere.”
The first exercise of the evening was hugging a stranger, and the physical interactions between members continued to be close; from mirroring a partner’s movements to embracing a different partner and leading him/her around the room. While teaching, Keat focused on two main areas: connecting with a partner and alternating between leader and follower.
“For me it’s important to break that personal bubble,” Keat said. “People today don’t like to be touched, but you need to feel comfortable with your partner.”
Keat teaches defying traditional gender roles and stereotypes, such as men leading and women following, while dancing tango. “My teaching style of everyone leading and following is not gender normative,” Keat said. “It’s important for me to teach others to do both, because to be a good leader you have to understand how to follow, and to be a good follower you have to understand what it’s like to lead.”
Keat and Snipper were impressed with the outstanding attendance last Wednesday and hope the enthusiasm continues past the first meeting. “Seeing so many people out there was great. I think that no one really knows a lot about Tango,” Keat said. “I’m excited that people not only want to dance, but want to dance with each other.”
The club will hold weekly meetings and tango practices, and is planning trips to local Milongas and a campus-wide Tango Dance next semester.
The only difficulty the club has run into is finding a space that will accommodate the large number of excited students. “Tango Club was so much fun and I absolutely cannot wait to get going and learn some great moves! As soon as we get a bigger space it will be even better,” Leah Wolf (sophomore) said.
On Saturday, Keat announced Rush Gym as the new location for next week’s meeting, and he encourages anyone interested to join now that there is plenty of space. “I am enthusiastic about this club,” Keat said. “So as long as people continue to bring their energy, I will meet them there.”
Oasis Tango meets Wednesdays in Rush Gym from 9 – 10 p.m. For more information or to join the mailing list, e-mail Alexander Keat at [email protected]
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