Conversations with tango worshippers:“Hawaiian tango”

It’s springtime and Milonga is expanding horizons. We are excited to meet felow tango lovers and worshippers from the four corners of the world. Our first interviewees are Patricia and Stewart. Read on!

Belén: How did the video come about?

Stewart: We decided to do this video because we were so inspired by having an ukulele — the Hawaiian instrument — in a tango. If you watch Romantica Milonguera’s video, you even see the bandoneonistas at one point doing little hula gestures with their hands. So we thought, “Cool. Hawaiian tango! Let’s do a Hawaiian tango video.”

It turned out my friend Troy Christopher Plota was in town. He’s an amazing photographer and was shooting a hotel. He wanted to use his drone to film us dancing, which we thought would be so cool.

Belén: Why did you choose that spot?

Stewart: We originally had a different spot in mind, in the heart of Waikiki, where there’s a grassy little hill where people do hula, a huge bronze statue of the surfer Duke Kahanamoku, surfboard rentals, coconut palm trees, lots of people in swimsuits. It’s very Hawaiian, but using the drone over there would have been hard.

Belén: What does this version of Mariposita evoke when you dance it?

Stewart: I just love the song because with the ukulele, especially the beginning, it’s just so Hawaii. That simple strumming of the first chords evokes the beauty and aloha spirit — the spirit of love — of this place.

When it starts, it could be a Hawaiian song. Then when Ximena’s voice comes in Spanish, you know it’s something different, not a Hawaiian song — but a tango. Dancing to it is pure joy. It’s so delightful and light. Her voice is magical.So it evokes two loves: Hawaii and tango.

Belén: What is it like to dance on that floor? Looks like flagstone.

Stewart: The surface is very difficult. It is uneven with cracks between the stones. That Patricia can do calecitas so beautifully there amazes me. Fortunately there’s a bit of sand, which makes it easier to rotate. You’ll notice I did not try giros! Fortunately, the song didn’t really call so much for me to do that, I think. Still, the spot is beautiful for the sunset, and it’s easy to use the drone there. Plus you see the sidewalk is wide.

Belén: And what about the passersby?

Stewart:Yes! It’s funny. They just sort of look at us. It’s sort of like at a milonga. I need to be aware of them and navigate.

But there’s a funny story about the biker. You’ll notice I do what looks like maybe an embellishment with my left leg after the bike passes. Well… it was because Patricia was afraid I was going to step backward into the biker and sort of held me the way a good follower will do at milonga if you’re about to back into someone.
So I was steadying myself a bit. I think I saw the biker, but he was going quite fast and close by.

Both the biker and dog walker looked cool I think. My daughter said they really look like extras in the video. But really it was like a crowded milonga!
Here’s the thing …That place is really “our spot” where we love to dance at sunset.
So that made this video really special.

Troy had the idea of us sitting on the benches while the drone rose up and the music started. I feel it is so sweet.

Belén: One final question ,for now , what is it like to be a milonguero in 2020?

Stewart: I think the video captures what it’s like for me these days — as a milonguero in 2020 with no milongas. We are having to seek out other outlets to dance. We feel so lucky to have each other as partners, but it wouldn’t be the same without our teachers and people like you who we’re meeting.

It’s also a good example of how we meet people through social media and that fuels our passion and encourages us. We’re trying to share tango with people here and the beauty of Hawaii with tangueros around the world. That’s our intention