Mile High Milonga: Tango at the Mercury Cafe in Denver
“Slow step, slow step, quick, quick slow’, a sea of feet keep time to the sultry tango tune. For fifteen years Mercury Café in Denver has been hosting weekly Friday night milongas (tango gatherings). Why tango? It was after seeing a beautiful tango performance that owner, Marilyn Megenity, decided to give it a try. The Mercury Café has been a local gathering place for decades and Denver’s tango scene demonstrates its loyalty as devotees flock to ‘the Merc’s’ wooden dance floor every Friday.
Beginner lessons are offered at 7pm, intermediate lessons at 8pm, followed by a community dance, often to live music that begins at 9pm. Single red roses grace each of the cabaret tables- a great place to enjoy a full-bodied Malbec. In a darkened nightclub-like setting, under red lights that shine like stars, dancers participate in one of the most famous Argentinean past times.
Follow the poignant sound of violin, bass, piano and bandoneón (a relative of the accordion) to the second floor where the tango festivities are afoot (pun intended). You’ll instantly recognize the instructors. Sue Thompson, a tango dancer of twelve years is tall, lean and moves with the grace of a swan. Darrel Sanchez, her partner leads her with the astute tenderness of a seasoned professional. Aside from teaching at the Mercury Café, they offer tango classes in Boulder at on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
While it’s true that, it takes two to tango…no partner is necessary for the class or the milonga. The Mercury Café tango night is a great opportunity to meet new people and partners are aplenty. If you do have a significant other, it’s a wonderful opportunity for a special date and sure to fuel the flame.
Sue teaches that, ‘tango is about dancing with your heart.’ The dance originated in the lower class districts of Buenos Aires in the 1890s. The dance contains elements of African rhythms as well as the European music of hundreds of thousands of homesick Italian, Spanish and French immigrants of yesteryear. Tango is sophisticated, romantic, slightly melancholy and undoubtedly seductive.
Over the past century Tango has become synonymous with Argentina and represents Porteños (people from Buenos Aires) and their culture around the world. Coloradoans have embraced the heritage and have formed one of the most active tango communities in the country. Tango Colorado is the organization that unites enthusiasts and coordinates lessons and milongas across the state.
The violin pulls at your heart and the bandoneón is like a passionate gasp. The machismo of the bass is aggressive and sensual lyrics break your heart every song. The clicks of dancer’s high heels reverberate off the dance floor and partners move with intimate synchronicity. The steamy, complex dance heats up the Mile High City and leaves even the most indifferent onlooker blushing.