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Staten Island, New York, United States

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer in NYC: Dancing Tango Outdoors

One of the perks of living in this city is all the free outdoor culture offered in the unique public spaces. I've only taken advantage of a couple of them this year, but the summer is still young.

The tango community moves outside in the summer.   Many of us are still mourning the original outdoor Milonga at the South Street Seaport. That was a victim of real estate-development, like so many other good things in this town. Also, I believe the Seaport Museum had something to do with the upkeep of the pier and they have fallen victim to the economy in recent years.

The rustic wooden surface of the pier was always a challenge to dance on, but became dangerous toward the end, with splinters and holes. But the ambience was hard to beat; the Brooklyn Bridge, the stately tall ship Peking docked next to us, the moon and the stars . . . all irresistible to people already under the romantic spell of the tango. Tango has its cliques, but EVERYONE showed up at the seaport.

My first outdoor milonga this year was at the Christopher Street pier. We dance there under a pavilion,which functions to contain the music, keeping it from drifting on the breeze out to the Hudson. 

The wood on this pier is new and we only have to worry about spiked heels getting caught between the boards and a little bit of slipping on the smooth surface. There's always a breeze off the Hudson to cool us down after the warmth of the sun, the exertion and the closeness of each other. 

When the sun sets (ah, the sunset) it cools down even more. The lights from the Lackawanna terminal in Hoboken, the Empire State Building, and The Statue of Liberty are all in view. 

Sometimes we are so taken with the ambience and good company we almost forget to dance.
This time at the pier I was happy to see that some of my regular "pier partners" were there. Some of them I only see at this milonga. Although we knew each other by sight, the names had slipped from memory and we had to re-synch our movements to each other.

The other outdoor milonga I love is at the Shakespeare statue in Central Park. I actually like the surface of the blocks for dancing, with just the right amount of traction. The area is usually swept clean and a little talcum powder applied. Sometimes a guitarist and bandoneon player provide us with music. The cool leafy surroundings and handy benches make it very inviting. Unfortunately, Saturdays are difficult for me to drag myself in for another day of commuting into Manhattan after what is usually a full day of running errands (which I do all on foot) and garden work.

This year there is a new outdoor milonga at Union Square Park. The reports have been positive and it sounds like everyone is showing up in the kind of numbers that used to frequent the seaport. I'm planning to check it out this weekend. I'll do a report.

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