A bit of Argentina on Salt Spring

February 29, 2016

I always say I am a traveller, not a tourist. I  do not always do this but I fairly often go somewhere to see and/or experience something specifically.

I went to the UK one time for three weeks. I madly crisscrossed Scotland and England to experience much to which I am attracted . I took in The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool (note: I am still shaking my head in disgust at the recent news that some young people at a Grammy Awards after party turned Paul McCartney away because hey did not know who he was. I guess if Jesus Christ appeared, they would not have recognized him either)

Macclesfield, Manchester where my Grandpa Rex Lester was born was visited by me as were two (count them:two) stone circles: one being on the northern Hebridean Isle of Harris and Lewis called Calanais and the other beiwng the famous Stone Henge in the south of England. On the way to Calanais was the experience of the Isle of Skye, the land of fairytales and wiccan practictioners.

On other trips I visited Jersey, Channel Islands to say hello to and encourage the nearly extinct animal breeds at the Gerald Durrell zoo. In Guatemala, my boyfriend (at the time) and I sweated through the jungle to climb the steps Tikal and in later years I rode a mechanical bronco of a Central American bus the artistic giant animal stone ruins in Copan, Honduras. In Cuba,er I viewed the headstones where Ernest Hemmingway buried his many, many cats giving me a glimpse into another side of the author celebrated equally for his numerous novels as well as his machismo.

So, small wonder to me that someone would go to Argentina to experience tango in the land of its birth. This probably happens everyday. come to think of it. The following is the story I wrote about it:

Gulf Islands Driftwood Weekender

February 27, 2009

A bit of Argentina on Salt Spring: Island’s tango club evolving and welcoming new members

by Tanya Lester

Since over a decade ago, when those on Salt Spring followed their passion by cramming into vehicles and car pooling over to Vancouver Island to glide across the dance floorboards, tango has had a dedicated following here.

“What it is: is a conversation between two people without words,” said Julianna Slomka, the island’s most recent tango instructor. Before starting this work, she trained for four months in the arms of the best teachers in Argentina, the dance’s birthplace.

Contrary to what some outside the “tango family” might think, it is not dirty dancing. Rather it is a beautiful and sensual art that originally fused African and European dance movements among the immigrants in South America who developed it.

“Where else can a man always have a woman in his arms?” asked Slomka, who welcomes more male leads to the Tuesday evening drop-in gatherings on the Core Inn’s third floor.

The man, in tango, listens to the music and reads his partner, Slomka explained. He needs he needs to ask himself, “If he takes a certain step will his partner be able to follow?” It is about making her feel safe and not to “shove her around like a mop.”

The woman has the nice opportunity to let go of being in control while dancing, Slomka said. Her partner asks and “it is up to her to agree.”

“They learn a good embrace, really in tune with each other, walking to the music, soft and flowing,” said Slomka.

A tango rule encourages a male lead to dance three times with a woman and then move on to another one. In this way, none of the women end up as “wallflowers.” Those unfamiliar with the tango experience sometimes misinterpret this as “wife swapping,” which is far from the truth, one regular participant explained.

In 2005, Slomka first came to Salt Spring Island to housesit. She fell in love with this place and with Argentine tango. From Thunder Bay, she had enjoyed ballroom dancing there but the tango component was not the Argentine style and left her unsatisfied.

Argentine tango, which is favoured here, is very improvisational. “You learn all the basics but then, in general, you mix (the steps) all up,” Slomka said.

One participant mentioned it is a good dance to take up in midlife because of the slow pace. There is time to pause and to think about what you want to do next.

Megan Colgan, who is 25 years old and began taking lessons in November, believes it is a great antidote to stave off boredom for younger people, too.

“Tango is about the couple dancing for each other,” said Colgan, who participates with her  boyfriend. “It’s not about putting on a show. You get to feel and move beautifully. I think, as a young woman, it’s healthy tooe feel beautiful.”

Tango also provides women with the opportunity to do something that does not happen often on Salt Spring: to dress up in a feminine way. Colgan’s first tango high heels are made of a tantalizing red suede. The heels are steel so they will never break.

Colgan believes tango can be enjoyed by everyone.

“If you have a good lead, it doesn’t matter if he’s 16 or 60.”

She said it has helped her move forward in her life.

“We get stuck in our daily patterns,” Colgan said. “But since beginning tango, it makes me think, ‘what else is out there?'” To this end, she is  moving to Montreal — called the tango capital of Canada…


Tanya Lester is a writer, intuitive/psychic reader and house sitter as well as a reiki master. To book any of her services contact her at tealeaf.56@gmail.com or call 250-538-0086. You can also go to her website at teareading.wordpress.com or to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.




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