A First Encounter with Tango

Stories : Story : Poem : History

Under the half full dome
Under the gold and white painted ceiling
Under the shining fountains of glass and light

The ethereal “ping” musters
A swirling sea of colour, smiles, or raised eyebrows
Chaotic yet ordered
Calm yet vigorous
Pairs of souls engulf each other, but never fully consume each other
The snakes swish their tails around their mountains of rock, whether experienced or youthful
Miraculously, the snakes energise the mountains to move
Loving yet refraining
Admiring yet hiding

The lustful promise of the sweeping music enticed my father, nearly 18 years ago
The scent of adventure leading him
When a new, foreign mountain joined the melting pot, he snapped his gaze to a snake
She stood out
He stood out
Coincidental yet inevitable
“There she is.”
Then their souls mingled.
She took refuge under him
And swished round him.
Chaotic, ordered, calm, vigorous,
Loving. So loving
Unapologetic. Holding nothing back.
Where the others would stride and swish around each other, my parents were different. The mystique of the slowness, holding each other, as if listening to each others ears.
Falling though each other into the depths of love.

Now, a grown boy, I bring myself before the sea, resting my heavy mountain on the beach of where my parents met.
“It’s not difficult, but it’s hard”
“It’s not a dance for how it looks, but for how it feels to your partner”
I see this dance not through my eyes, but I can feel every step, every pivot and twitch.
“How many steps in tango? The next one.”
I don’t care how long it will take
I must learn Argentinian tango

Written by Jacob Houck (and the spirit of tango) on sight at The Counting House. 14.1.23

Jakob’s story:

The moment that I entered the Counting House and the atmosphere of the busy city outside was swapped for a suave but spicy one, it was like I had entered a parallel universe. One where all that mattered was mingling, intelligent and social conversation and of course, the main event, Argentinian tango. I had been there twice before, though my poem omitted this. Once as a mere baby and the other time around 8 years of age. Of course, back then, I was too young to understand the pure genius of the dance. I knew that my parents met dancing, but I was too busy playing to take notice of what was going on.

I happened to be in Edinburgh on the brunch’s 20th anniversary to pick up a book and, due to the special occasion, felt obliged to go along and see what tango was all about. I’d seen my parents dance tango in the house or garden but I’d never seen (or really paid attention to) a whole roomful of couples. To say I was entranced, even seduced by tango was an understatement. I couldn’t take my eyes off the couples. It was poetic. The amount of intimacy, sophistication and everything that the dancers tell each other though the language of tango involved just astounded me. It was then that I knew I had to write something to help me make that moment last. I’d written several poems previously, but never before in the heat of what they explore. They’d never been that good either. That day felt different to me; it not only inspired a poem but it made me want to write something good.

Written by Jacob Houck 11.2.23

Subject: Poem / History

Published: 2 May 2023 by Toby Morris


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Reduced hours at the Counting House on Sundays

Please note that from Sunday the 7th April 2024 there will be a change in the timing of the Sunday milonga at the Counting House


We will now start at 19.30 and finish at 22.00.

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Edinburgh Tango Society | 01 Apr 2024

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