When tango lovers Aykut Kazanci and his girlfriend Miranda Xu relocated to Shenzhen in 2014, they were sad to find the city had no tango.
“We were probably the only tango dancers here back then,” Kazanci recalled. “As tango lovers, we thought we should start it here as leading people and create a local tango community, which we actually did.”
Aykut Kazanci (R) and his dancing partner during a tango class. Photos courtesy of the interviewee
With engineering as his background and profession, before settling in Shenzhen, Kazanci worked in Hong Kong as a factory safety inspector. It was at a tango party there where he met Xu, who was then based in Shanghai. After deciding to live together, the couple quit their jobs and moved to Shenzhen. While Kazanci continued his inspection business, their tango studio, Luna Tango, also began to take shape.
“We’ve been offering a variety of tango classes, from beginner’s classes to advanced classes to tailor-made classes,” he told Shenzhen Daily. “We also organize milongas (tango dance parties). Now every time we organize a milonga, we usually have from 60 to 80 dancers. Of course, students come and go, but, after all these years, there are now maybe more than 100 people dancing tango in Shenzhen after learning from us, which is cool.”
Kazanci picked up tango in his home country, Turkey, over 20 years ago. In his eyes, tango is a language infused with creativity. “Tango is not simply moving. It’s listening to wonderful music, understanding the music and infiltrating it to your partner in an expressive, creative way. It’s a language about how we communicate with two bodies moving. ”
He said that this is also why tango is well received in China.
“Expressing your feelings openly is not very much in the Chinese culture. People usually do it in a discreet way. Some people would like a new channel to communicate, and tango is that channel.”
The couple said the tango community in Shenzhen has very distinctive features. First, the dancers are generally young — most of them are below 30 years old. Second, female dancers greatly outnumber male dancers. Third, they are mostly curious people who love to know and observe new things. And fourth, they are usually hesitant and nervous at the beginning.
“They are fearful of making mistakes, and they have close contact issues,” Kazanci explained. “This is more or less understandable, because you know nothing and a man comes in front of you and wants to move with you. We always try to explain to them what is tango, what is connection and how to listen to music. The most important thing in tango dancing is relaxing. That’s why the only Chinese I know really well are ‘fangsong’ (relax) and ‘tingyinyue’ (listen to music). If one can really understand the value of relaxing and listening to music, tango is not that difficult.”