January 2001  |  Archive  |  © Witold Krassowski/Network
reportage Passion parade
Young Polish professionals have discovered the delights of the Tango. Witold Krassowski photographed at a dance academy which gives lessons in the surprising location of the former Communist militia in Warsaw Young people in Warsaw are flocking to learn the old time Argentinian tango. Polish yuppies and professionals have enthusiatically welcomed the arrival of an Academy of Tango in their city. Bored with rock and roll, they have grasped at another trendily pastime. Some hope to meet the big love of their life, though they wouldn't care to admit it. The first sessions took place in the former club of the hated communist militia, right next to their notorious headquarters in the Mostowski Palace. Every Wednesday more and more bored young hopefuls congregated in this dark, socialist-realistic environment to experience the double thrill of tango and former danger. The venue became too crowded and, overwhelmed with success, the Academy had to organise extra sessions every Monday in the former casino of the equally feared secret police. This place lacks the heavy atmosphere of socialist architecture but is much more appropriate for teaching the tango. And the crowds keep coming. The teachers are mainly dance enthusiasts, all young, some expatriates. A few are studying, most have jobs, all give energy and time to sustain their passionate pasttime. They can do incredible things with their legs. The tango meetings evenings start around 8 p.m. and the atmosphere builds up slowly as more people arrive. First, couples interested in polishing up their tango technique try new steps in the almost empty room. The crowd grows thicker and the bar serves drinks at full speed. Things heat up. Technique goes out the window as emotion and imagination take over. Liaisons take place and some last beyond the dancing. Aspiring newcomers look on from the sidelines, curious at the relaxed but volatile scene before them. At midnight, on the dot, the clientele leave in a cloud of all-pervasive tobacco.