Skirts swirled and feet twirled at the first-ever Halloween Tango Concert and Dance hosted by the Cal Poly Ballroom Dance Club Saturday night.
Professional dancers Christy Cote and Darren Lees taught a tango class one hour before the concert.
“There’s a lot of interest in the tango in this town,” said Cal Poly alumnus Christopher Ellwood, who helped organize the event.
One hundred and thirty-nine were in attendance as the Ballroom Dance Club presented the first-ever live band concert and dance, sponsored in part by SLO Tango. The event began with the Argentine tango dance lessons in Chumash Auditorium at 7 p.m. and the concert started at 8 p.m., featuring critically acclaimed ensemble Tango No. 9 of San Francisco and performances by Cote and Lees.
Audience members tangoed themselves into a frenzy during Tango No. 9’s two one-hour sets at 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Tickets were $12 in advance, $16 at the door and $10 for students with a valid I.D.
There were 60 advanced ticket sales and many people bought tickets at the door.
“I don’t think we’ve ever done anything like this,” club president Danielle Sanzari said. “We do put on dances, but this is a good deal because people can get a concert and a lesson all in one night.”
The performances by Cote and Lees during the concert portion of the night enthralled the audience; people stood, crouched and moved to find a better view of the dancers.
“We only choreographed the entrances,” Lees said of their performances. “Real tango is improvised.”
The two danced three numbers to songs played by Tango No. 9. Backstage between each number they changed costumes.
“(Teaching) is very rewarding,” Lees said. “We both started somewhere. We both had our first class, so I enjoy doing it.”
Lees has been dancing the Argentine tango for nearly six years; Cote has been dancing for about 12 years.
“I love the clarity of the tango,” Cote said. “You can interpret a song on the spot to decorate it with choreography and embellish. It’s a unique dance.”
Some concert-goers did not participate in the class but enjoyed the show anyway. Others danced the night away for class participation or assignments.
“It was a lot of fun,” biology freshman Nicole Bordman said. “I’ve always wanted to learn to tango and this was a really inexpensive way to learn.”