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Tango in Japan

Chang Sang Hyeon - Tango in Tokyo
Chang Sang Hyeon - Tango contacts in Tokio
Kate Withey - Japan Tango
Chang Sang Hyeon - Japan Tango

Date:    Wed, 3 Mar 1999 20:12:39 +0900
From:    Chang Sang Hyeon
Subject: Tango in Tokyo

Hello Tango-L,

Yesterday, I went to a Milonga in Tokyo. That was my first time
to attend tango in Japan and the first tango dance after I left
Florida last year(7 months ago!).

Well let me tell you about dance in Japan first. Ballroom dance became
popular (at least for old generations) after the big hit of the movie
"Shall we dance." Except the ballroom, the most popular dance in Japan
may be Flamenco. In my town (1 million pop.), there are a couple of
Flamenco schools, dozen of ballroom schools but no AT school.
 Some young guys like to dance Salsa, mainly because Latin students
are having Salsa party regularly.

If you want to dance tango in Japan, you should go to Tokyo.
This huge city has everything, I found out there are
some homepages about AT. They even have Searchable Database of
AT. You can find Milonga, Lesson, Teachers, Concert and/or even
partners. Unfortunately, it is all written in Japanese.

Now I want talk about the dance, Milonga yesterday. I should confess that
I am a merely a beginner who just danced a few times.
And this is just one event I observed here.
So it might not be general and even incorect but I will try my best to
describe my experience there.

It was quite similar to the milonga I danced in Tampa. The place was
old nice hall. An old man (I think he is one of local AT teacher)
organized it. He also did DJ. Musics were nice, a little bit old
and slow tempo. Later he mixed  a few rather modern ones with old ones.
For 3 hours only 3 milongas and one Valz.

And they offered a free lesson for beginners in other room and later
offer some wine and cookies.

I noticed a few things different from Tampa. First, they
don't call it Milonga, they call it Party. You should ask for
Tango Party not Milonga in Japan.
And it won't last till midnight. It starts around 6 pm and end before
9 pm. (Japanese are busy people).
It started 5:30 but people came around 6pm. In total about little more
than 30 people were there. The hall was full at 6:30. Male/female
number was almost even. I think men outnumbered ladies.
Most of men were old ( half of them looked over 60, and
I was the only one who looked less than 50 ) while ladies were
considerably younger.

There were many good dancers, they were smooth and skillful.
Both ladies and men were doing lots of fancy steps on the floor.
I especially liked a bold and short old man who danced with lots of
energy and passion.
Strange thing (at least for me) was that it was hard to find a
beginner (even for the beginner lesson, only one guy was true beginner
while all others were more like beginner to intermediate level.)

During the break I could find some people who can speak English.
They were very nice and kind. They told me that they had visited
BsAs and they really love tango.
I heard that some well-known Argentine teachers had visited Tokyo and
gave some lessons there.

I enjoyed a lot. Ever since I had learned tango, I haven't had
many chance to dance. So when I first embrace my partner, I couldn't
move smoothly. One Japanese teacher pointed out that my upper body
is not stable and my head is in wrong position. She also corrected
my right arm hold (which I wouldn't expect from teachers in America,
but comparing with one Japanese ballroom teacher who corrected my
index finger and ring finger direction in Paso Doble class, it was
Ah, one more comment, Japanese like close embrace.

It would be a little bit hard to find them if you don't speak
Japanese. But there are some people who can speak English (or Spanish).
I recommend this club I went though you should stop dancing around

So I say, when you are in Kyoto, enjoy old temples and old street
with cherry blossom. If you want dance Tango in Japan, you should
go to Tokyo.

Any of you want to dance AT while you are visiting Tokyo, I might help
you find a person to contact.


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Date:    Fri, 5 Mar 1999 18:40:53 +0900
From:    Chang Sang Hyeon
Subject: Re: Tango in Tokyo (Contact Address)

After I posted about Tango in Tokyo, I got several messages about
way to contact in Tokyo. I first try to reply to individuals.
But I think it would be better to post here.

Frist, some general information, most of Japan tango page is written
only in Japanese.
Japanese tango party ends around 9pm.
The enterance fee is usually 1000-2000 Yen (it would be higher
if they have live tango band or special performance.)
Now 1 US dollor is about 120 Yen.

 The Tango party I attended is organized by SUIYOKAI.
You can find their schedule in their English homepage
They have party almost every tuesday.
The person who are managing this homepage is not a member of this club
but he would help him.
 The organizer's phone number is (Japanese National code is 81, and
when you call them from outside of Japan you should omit first 0 )
03-3360-2151 (e.g. 81-3-3360-2151)
(I don't know whether he can speak English)

 One lady I met in the party can speak English and also organizing
tango party. Her name is Lilliana Nakata (03-3986-8149)

These are active tango clubs in Tokyo (El Tango, They have regular dance) (Monthly tango party in Tokyo called GARUFA) (club Tango Argentino)

You might get some information from Kyoto, Nagoya, Osaka are from
Kyoto based tango band "orchestra Astrorico" homepage (Japanese)
and their e-mail contact

This is Web tango magzine in Japanese, You may get some information from
the creater of this homepage (Japanese)

And this is latin music magazine in Japan (Japanese)

You can also contact Ms. Yukiko Konobu who are in some oher
tango club. Her e-mail address is

p.s. Yukiko informed me that several months ago Japan postoffice
printed Japan-Argentine 100 yr friendship stamp.
And there is a tango picture on it!
When you visit Tokyo, drop by postoffic. It would be a good souvenir.


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Date:    Mon, 26 Apr 1999 22:52:37 -0800
From:    Kate Withey
Subject: Japan Tango

Well, I did manage to find tango in Japan.  In Tokyo, I went to a
practica & -- after getting lost in the subway system until it was
almost over -- the last few dances of a milonga (called a tango party
there).  Everyone was extremely nice, language barriers notwithstanding,
& there were even some tall men!  There were maybe 15-20 people at the
practica, & 40 at the milonga, evenly divided between men & women (!).
There were a couple of very good woman leaders at the practica (& I
think at the milonga, too).  The differences I noticed from what I'm
used to were that fewer people (if any) were dancing really close
milonguero style, and more men led gancho sequences (even with a tall
woman) & boleos than I'm used to in a social dance (but their studios
were nice & big, so they do have lots of room for them).  Another
difference is that their events are all early -- 6-9pm -- since many
people live an hour or more out of the city, so people go right after
work & bring their tango clothes.

In Kyoto, I went to a (non-dancing) concert by a very good 3-piece
Japanese tango band (with an Argentine singer).  Playing in a little bar
in front of a big spray of cherry blossoms....

Perhaps illogically, it felt much stranger to me to be dancing or
listening to tango in Japan than it has in North America or Europe.
Don't know if that's about cultural stereotyping, but I think it's
(even) farther from their culture than it is from ours.

Contact info & details offlist to any who want them.  (Also
non-dance-related info on a truly great walking tour of Kyoto if you
want to learn a lot about zen gardens & temples....)

Kate :)
San Francisco

                  "Great dancers are not great because of
                   their technique; they're great because
                   of their passion."   - Martha Graham

Oh, & has it been mentioned that the number one hit song of all time (I
think) in Japan is a children's song about little dumplings on a stick,
called "dango" -- so naturally, the song is a tango called "Dango
Tango"?...  I bought the CD single, but it's such a bad pressing (or my
CD player has rotted in 3 weeks) that I've had trouble really listening
to it.  Sounds cute but not danceable.

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Date:    Thu, 29 Apr 1999 03:52:42 +0900
From:    Chang Sang Hyeon
Subject: Re: Japan Tango

Hello, I'm glad that Kate could find Tango places in Japan.
Most of her impressions about Japan tango are same as mine.
Yes, I also noticed that almost every people doing gancho and
boleos, sometimes women doing it without man's lead.
 Now there is a small tango boom in Japan. It is just a coincidence..
First Piazzolla boom lead by two most popular classic musicians
Gidon Kremer and Yo Yo Ma... they visited Japan and knocked out
audiences with Piazzolla.. and suddenly you can find all the Piazzolla
CDs in local cd shops.. you can here Piazzolla everyday.. from coffee
ad. to background music.  Then Carlos Buono band/singer/dancer
tour for almost all major cities in Japan. Last month, Forever Tango
hit Tokyo.. it was such a hit so they will come again next month.
Now Carlos Saura's TANGO will open in Tokyo..
 I found out Saura is more popular director in Japan than US.
Don't underestimate his influence, he is one of main reason that
Flamenco became one of most popular dance in Japan just in a couple
of years.
 And yes... the smash hit of the song "3 Dango brothers"
this is really unbelivable story.. even Japanese themselve could not
belive it.. early this year, there was a song in a TV program for
kids (like sesame street).. which is about japanese dumpling
usually they put 3 golf ball size dumpling on one stick and sell.
This is called "Dango" and 3 brothers means this 3 Dangos on
stick. This is some parody of European Tango rythm.
 First kids like it, then parents.. its amazing popularity makes
them print this song as a single CD.. suprisingly they sold out as soon
as released. It looks like more than 5 million CDs have been sold.
No wonder Kate's CD doesn't work.. if they printed several million
the original frame would worn out.

 Even though Kate wrote it is not danceable, I actually saw one local
argentine dancers danced AT while this music was played on TV show.
Now that was the first time I saw AT on the major TV show (US, Japan
and Korea..) then the next week some local AT teacher appeared
on TV show and showed some basic steps while she explains about
AT.. (they were talking about Japan dance boom and the related movies..
like Disco - Saturday night fever
Ballroom dance - Shall we dance. etc.
Then they predict it might be AT for next time.)
It was a peak when last week one hour TV show was entirely devoted
for AT lesson for beginners (I am not kidding, one hour national TV
program for AT lesson only.)
It covered basic, and forward/backward ocho and sandwich.
That point I understood why all Japanese dancers doing gancho.
When they taught basic sandwich, that step end with gancho..
so it is in basic step.. I noticed that all women automatically
do gancho when I lead sandwich..

All I hope this tango boom will reach to where I live (Sendai) in near
future so I can learn and dance some tango here...


One more thing, the Kyoto tango band kate wrote must be
Orquesta Astrorico.
most famous Japanese tango band. They recently updated their
homepage (now they have Japanese/English/Spanish version)
I found out the homepage is not the only thing they upgraded
they now have dancers Lucia y Alvaro and singer Roberto de Lozano
they have e-mail addresses too.
Lucia y Alvaro

Anybody who plan to visit Kyoto (One of nicest city in Japan) check
this homepage

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Garrit Fleischmann May.99
Email: kontakt(at)