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Edgy, sultry, intense – the atmosphere of the Argentinian tango salons was recreated recently at the Oxford Playhouse with Tangomotion.  Normally I’d be there helping out as a volunteer, but this time I was firmly an audience member for a lively and impassioned show.

UK tango band Tango Siempre accompanied four dancers performing Milonga (the faster paced Tango style), Waltz-style and improvisation in the two hour performance. Unsurprisingly, the work of tango music composer Astor Piazzolla was prominent.

The star of the show for me though was definitely the near invisible but perfectly audible ‘bandoneon’, played by band member Julian Rowlands.  It is the smallish squeeze box, of German origin, that creates and sustains the mellifluous and extended tango hum.    A hum that enjoyably reverberated well after the curtain came down.

See:  Tango Siempre

So where might one more usually go to hear the bandoneon?

I guess Buenos Aires, and now that has come to Oxfordshire too.

Photographer Sarah Terry’s Tango Argentino exhibition opened this week in Chipping Norton.  Sixteen black and white portraits are on display, mostly prints with a couple of acrylics, that exude the vibrant and humid streets of Buenos Aires.

The candid close-ups show the clearly visible and mesmeric facial contours of some of the city-dwellers.

Photographer Sarah suggested to me that the black and white shots work well with the cityscape’s characteristic hue.  I reflected that the panorama of pictures looked like one large vivacious gathering.  She explained they show not just one day but regular life in the city.

For me there were two particular photographs to really ponder on and wonder what the backstory could be.

Couple tango dancing is a street scene of a pair looking like they have been in their passionate dancing embrace for years.  Maybe or maybe not – as, when the Buenos Aires street musicians strike up, even near strangers might take up confidently in step together.

The Sleeping man is a photograph of a street bookseller apparently.  It could be at that moment the heat of the day had overtaken the heat of trade.   I asked Sarah if she had woken him to let him know about the photo.  Perhaps wisely, she had returned later for that and allowed him to slumber on.

The Tango Argentino photography exhibition is on at The Theatre Chipping Norton until 15th August.

See: Sarah Terry photographer

© Laura Claire H 2014