U’s Tango Club spices up summer nights


James Regan locks his eyes with BreAnne Mackenzie as she wraps her leg around his thigh. After her leg descends back to the floor, their feet slowly slide across the ground in one sensuous movement.

Mackenzie decided to try the Argentine tango when Regan approached her after their physics class in the spring. She said Regan walked up to her and asked, “Would you like to dance the tango?”

Since last fall, the University’s Argentine Tango Club has taught students the art of the tango.

Argentine tango is distinguished from ballroom tango because it is less mechanical and choreographed.

“Tango is the ultimate sexy dance,” said Regan, an Italian studies student and co-chairman of the club.

Regan said he became passionate about the club when he joined last fall. Since then, he has been getting everyone he knows – men and women – to try the tango.

Argentine Tango Club President Burak Ozkosem, who started the club, said he learned to tango when he was an undergraduate in Turkey five years ago.

Now a graduate student in plant biology and a tango instructor, he said, he wanted to bring the dance to the University.

“I wanted to introduce the tango to young people and to people from different backgrounds,” Ozkosem said.

Argentine tango clubs aren’t just on the University campus. Before he started the club here, Ozkosem talked to people in Argentine tango clubs at Stanford, Purdue and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., he said.

Ozkosem said he recently gave the University of Chicago advice on how to start its own Argentine tango club.

Last year, for $25 a semester, students could attend Monday-night tango lessons at Comstock Hall.

This summer, the tango has made its way from the dance floors of Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Wednesday nights at Manhattan Loft.

“When we are at the Manhattan Loft, sometimes I will ask girls who are walking down the street if they want to dance,” said Regan, who said he believes in having as many friends as possible.

Every Wednesday, the University of Minnesota’s Argentine Tango Club will host its weekly milonga, or tango dance party, at the Manhattan Loft from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

In July, the club will offer free tango lessons from 7:15 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. before the milonga.

The event is free for anyone who wants to learn how to dance or to just watch the tantalizing tango performed in person.

On June 1, 10 couples, a mixture of students and tango enthusiasts from the community, danced.

Some members have taken their infatuation for Argentine tango out of the state and even out of the country, going to tango festivals in Chicago, Ill., and Ann Arbor.

Ozkosem and other members have traveled to the birthplace of Argentine tango – Buenos Aires.

“For people here, tango is a hobby; for people in Buenos Aires, it’s a lifestyle,” Ozkosem said.

This fall, the Argentine Tango Club will continue lessons for students, and Ozkosem said he hopes to get more students to join.