Tango popularity grows in China
By Lyne Lin

Buenos Aires is said to be the farthest city from Beijing. But, despite a distance of over 19,000 kilometers, the two cities share something in common — a love for Tango.

Ma Jinzheng and Wu Simeng are the winners of the 2019 Tango Asian Championship. They are the first Chinese couple to ever take the stage in the world finals in Argentina.

The couple had their first encounter with Tango in 2012. As they went from novice to world-class dancers, they quit their jobs and turned their passion into a career. Now, they run a club in downtown Beijing, teaching Tango classes every night of the week.

Tango for Ma Jinzheng is an emotional outlet.

"Like its music, Tango is rich and complex in emotions," Ma said, adding that "It resonates with many aspects of my life. When I dance, I'm brought into a different world."

Ma Jinzheng (L) and Wu Simeng (R) dance on the Great Wall, Beijing. /Lyne Lin

Ma Jinzheng (L) and Wu Simeng (R) dance on the Great Wall, Beijing. /Lyne Lin

In 2017, Ma and Wu traveled to Argentina to compete in the World Dance semi-finals. That was Wu's first trip to South America, where she got an authentic tango experience. Though they didn't make it to the final round, sitting in to watch the finals was a transformational experience.

"The spotlights, the audience, the applauses, the best judges … Forget about the placements, I just wished I was up there dancing," Wu shared with CGTN. "That was when I got determined to turn this passion into something more."

People enjoy Tango for different reasons. Xing Chengyan, who has been practicing it for over six years, first encountered the Argentine dance when he was studying overseas in France. For him, the allure of tango is its quiet embrace. As for Tian Wei, a beginner dancer, she likes the social aspects of the dance.

The couple dance on the Great Wall, Beijing. /Lyne Lin

The couple dance on the Great Wall, Beijing. /Lyne Lin

Tango is all about feeling the present. It offers an unhurried but intriguing experience – a much-needed break from the rhythms of our fast-paced lives. It is also bold, expressive, and flirtatious. And this may appear to be quite uncharacteristic for the Chinese culture.

"Tango is profoundly multicultural," said Ma. "We had Argentine teachers explaining Tango concepts to us using the Yin-Yang philosophies. Sometimes they say Tango is the South American version of Chinese Tai Chi."

Ou Zhanming is the culture consultant for the embassy of Argentina in Beijing. He spent almost two decades researching Tango culture. In Ou's perspective, the dance offers Chinese people a whole new form of expression.

"In Chinese culture, people prefer to keep a fair physical distance from each other, be it with family or friends, not to mention strangers. But with Tango, the close embrace of a partner bonds strangers together," Ou explained.

The history of Tango in China is relatively short. And it's still a niche interest in comparison with other dance styles. But, as more enthusiasts join the Tango community, the Argentine dance evolves as it takes root in China.

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