We meet the founders of the Dubai-based school, Tango-OK, to explore the health and social benefits driving the dance's revival
"I always say to people who are unsure: if you can walk, you can dance tango," says Lin Krstic, who runs the Dubai-based tango school Tango-OK, with her husband Oliver. "People soon overcome their shyness."
Tango conjures images of sultry Latin Americans passionately strutting around dancefloors, locked in intricate and lithe embraces. In recent years, this complex dance has captured the imagination of people across the planet, keen to experience a taste of red-blooded Argentine exuberance.
Krstic is a classic example of how tango’s revival has spread around the world. Working for a telecom company, she transferred from Singapore to Dubai. The high stress job led her to try some tango classes as she tried to find some work-life balance. She was immediately addicted. “All I wanted to do was watch tango on YouTube, shop for tango shoes and look for tango festivals when I was on holiday,” she remembers.
I always say to people who are unsure: if you can walk, you can dance tango
Her experience is mirrored in the people that come to Tango-OK, perhaps encouraged by events such as the annual Dubai Tango Festival.
“I think people like how it makes them feel: it’s an oasis where you can be who you want to be,” she says. “You can completely let go and be in the moment. So it’s a little bit spiritual, a little bit physical and highly emotional.”
The health benefits of tango are also appealing. Krstic says she finds a lot of people come to their classes after becoming tired of the same old gym classes. They might not, initially, work up much of a sweat doing tango. But with practice, something interesting happens.
“You get a dancer’s body,” she says. “You are stretching and toning, working muscles you never knew existed. And it feels beautiful.” The “feel” of tango is just as important. Krstic quickly learned that the social aspect of the dance really works in Dubai, the classes attracting people from all walks of life. “Noone really cares who you are, what your position is, who you know. They just care about the tango,” she says.
Everyone can do it - in Argentina people are just as likely to start at six years old as they are 60 - and it quickly gives you a confidence
“Which means there are no limits,” adds Krstic’s husband, Oliver, who taught tango in Switzerland before moving to Dubai. “Everyone can do it - in Argentina people are just as likely to start at six years old as they are 60 - and it quickly gives you a confidence.”
Lin and Oliver are now just as confident that tango is here to stay in the UAE. Tango-OK was originally something of a shot in the dark when they started in 2012. But they take on new people every month.
“The demographic in Dubai is perfect, actually,” he admits. “There are plenty of young people working very hard who want to meet new people and have fun. Tango is brilliant for that. It turns out that people are really hungry for what we offer.”