An expat Californian building a new life via the tango in Buenos Aires since 2003, including information on learning the tango and where to dance it in Buenos Aires.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tango Gods Part 2



I too had my idol growing up as a tango dancer during the last 15 years. Living in L.A. and traveling a lot in those days in order to dance, I took classes with many of the "greats" in Los Angeles and at festivals around the world. I even hosted an "idol" in my home for 4 days before I had to ask him to leave because of his behavior -- no respect for me, the tango, or his students.

The only one I really learned from, the one I respected the most, was Carlos Gavito. He danced the way I felt about the music (like Ruben does.) For me, as a dancer he was without equal. Completely dedicated to the tango, he was a marvelous stage performer as well as social dancer. But he didn't put on airs; what you saw was what you got.

Everyone knew that he had a woman, or two, in every city Forever Tango played. He was open about that as well. He used to say he was married to the tango, which is a cliché perhaps, but so true for so many people.

Whenever he was in Los Angeles, I took his group classes and privates. After a point, he told me that I didn't need any more lessons, nor should I bother with attending local milongas; I should just save my money and go as often as possible to Buenos Aires. I really appreciated his honesty, and respected him not only as an elegant dancer, but as a person. He didn't act superior or all-knowing, as well he could have, and his conversation (always in French with me, for some reason) was sophisticated, funny, and interesting.

Even when he was sick near the end of his life, he still went to the milongas although he didn't dance much socially any more. But it was obvious that the milonga was where he felt at home. I saw him in Gricel, El Beso, La Catédral, La Viruta, Nino Bien--always friendly, warm, respectful, nice, a real caballero. I can't imagine him doing any of the gross, stupid things that I've seen other "famosos" do in public.

To me, Carlos Gavito was a "tango god," who I will always respect in my memory as someone who loved the tango above all else (including money), and who taught me and shared that love of tango with me and all the world.

I didn't know him that well, and I'm sure there are all kinds of tales about him. But compared to the "idols" I wrote about in my last post, those famous dancers who have let fame and fortune go to their heads and are not humble in the presence of the tango or the students who pay them, Gavito was The Man, and always will be for me.

1 comment:

Tangocommuter said...

Many thanks for your tribute to a great human being and tanguero - and for a great photo too! It makes me regret even more not looking for tango when I first thought about it - the mid-90s - when Gavito was in London for extended periods. But I was working nights then, so it wouldn't have been easy. & 'Gavito' meant nothing to me then.

The name you courteously decline to mention over the shocking 'Consagrados incident' has been identified in a comment to a YouTube video. I wasn't sure whether to believe the story, but I think you're talking about the same person. I'm glad to read your comments, which are very clear and to the point.