A Night in Argentina
The last tango in San Antonio has not yet been danced, as the ballroom series returns to Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. The ornate riverside hotel offers an annual “Tango in the Courtyard” series, now in its third year, aiming for romance above all.
Weekends in November bring professional tango dancers to the courtyard, an intimate, old world space surrounded by arches, plants, and a decorative waterfall. This ticketed event offers an excuse to visit the hotel as a non-guest, enjoying the atmosphere even without an overnight stay. (Those who do decide to stay overnight may watch from their courtyard balcony if they book the special package.)
Atmosphere is everything for this series, which comes with a bottle of Malbec (a varietal tightly associated with Argentina), an unnamed “traditional Argentinian cheese dessert,” and a red rose. (No one seems to know, definitively, how the red rose between a dancer’s teeth became a tango cliché, but handing it off to your date to remember the night is a classy flourish nonetheless. Perhaps the series, which offers some history with the dancing, has a theory.)
Tango hasn’t always been such a posh pastime. Almost everyone, regardless of dance history knowledge, can recognize the dance that became a sensation thanks to immigrants and lower classes in Argentina during the mid-to-late 19th century. The modified salon dance, European in origin and African and Cuban in alteration, gained a florid reputation as most lower class movements do, as art forms practiced for passion rather than for the eye of high society.
The tango in particular emphasizes close bodies and stiff elegance juxtaposed with moments of high drama. In one of dance history’s most overt gentrifications, the tango made it back to Europe, was reportedly banned by several notable members of 20th century European high society (which always seems to add fuel to the fire of public interest), and a century later, is the height of poise and romance.
The “Tango in the Courtyard” series runs from 7:30-9:30 pm on November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, and 26. Tickets ($129 for two) are available at hotelvalencia-riverwalk.com. Valet parking is included.