Text: Richard Price
Image: Le Tango
Timing, as they say, is everything. At Le Tango, this could not be more true.
On a recent Saturday night, my gal-pal and I arrived there at 23:30 and found no impediment between us, the velvet rope and the 8 euro per-person cover, which did not include a drink. Once inside, we felt as if someone had made a PA announcement saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Paris. Please set your watches to 1935.”
Le Tango is ostensibly a gay club, but persons of any sexual persuasion are welcome and made to feel comfortable, because at Le Tango, it’s all about dance. And this is where the timing becomes critical. Open on Fridays and Saturdays from 20:30 until 05:00 (Sundays from 17:00), the place is, at its core, an old-fashioned ballroom. Forget about the notion of arriving fashionably late – you won’t want to miss a minute of this spectacle!
Confident and graceful couples fill the dance floor, (male-male, female-female, male-female, questionable-questionable). Before you take to the dance floor to show off the chicken dance you learned at your cousin’s wedding, be forewarned – these dancers look like pros! From tangos and waltzes to polkas and the cha-cha, the deliriously happy people who come to Le Tango are quite willing to show off their tremendous talent.
Don’t be surprised to see high kicks during a waltz followed by a round of applause from the appreciative audience sitting at the wooden tables facing the dance floor. Tables are shared and everyone is outgoing and friendly here, confident in the shared knowledge that they are in a special place. I found myself glancing at my watch not to see how late it was but to calculate how much more time I could spend here.
At about 00:30, the ballroom dancing ends and the evening is transitioned by a few line dances that draw regulars to the dance floor in droves. Apparently this is an old tradition, and after the line dances the music switches to very danceable disco and pop. Now is the time to show off that chicken dance, or whatever move you might have up your sleeve. The tables empty and the dance floor becomes packed with a mixed crowd of interesting faces who simply want to dance.
The dress code is non-existent, and every night is like Halloween. There are a few men in drag – bad drag, to be sure (the best kind!). An 80-year-old Liza Minnelli impersonator wearing a Catholic school uniform would not get a second glance. Everyone is welcome. No one judges. If Le Tango feels like 1935, one wishes it could stay 1935 forever. After all, life is a cabaret, old friend.
Out on the street in the wee hours of the morning, the queue of eager patrons on the other side of the velvet rope waiting to get in stretches back down the block. Timing, as they say, is everything.