By Yim Poh Yin
Penang Argentine Tango ( PAT)

I was intrigued.

The way Argentine Tango was first described to me – it sounded like Aladdin’s secret caves, full of gleaming jewels. The tango journey sounded like flying on a magic carpet to exotic places that I have never been!

Jokes aside, I had quite a few years of social dance experience under my feet by the time Tango found me. And it is said, that when tango finds you, it will not let you go.  Melodramatic much, thought I, when I first heard that. Ask me again over a cup of Ipoh white coffee and I’ll tell you what I think now.

My husband and I – our first contact with the tango was on the car porch of our home in Penang. The dance studios were all shut then, no thanks to a little microbe. A struggling dance instructor who was out of a job taught us his version of tango. We didn’t mind as we didn’t know any better. We have flown quite a distance on our magic carpet since…. but tango is a journey that never ends.

For years, we had learnt partner dancing from instructors who taught us to memorise sequences. And when we thought we were going to paint the dance floor with these newfound steps, we were often left disappointed. The moment one of us forgot a step, the chain in the sequence was broken. And believe you me, the chain was broken more times than not! We engaged in some self as well as partner recrimination- “we are not body smart! we should have practised more! IT WAS YOUR FAULT!”


It is an improvised dance – meaning the leader learns some key figures that he himself fits into a sequence based on the music he feels. Nothing fancy is needed. The enjoyment is not in complex figures to wow an audience but in the connection between dance partners flowing to beautiful music as one. It becomes a meditative dance. Poetry in motion.

Once we got used to it, I found tango liberating. For once my husband could dance the entire song without stopping. As I learnt to ‘listen’ to his lead, my body became more sensitive to his signals. I stopped anticipating the next move. We were finally truly dancing with each other.

Together with a very good friend, I formed Penang Argentine Tango ( PAT) in 2022 as a private group. I was bereft at the loss of my dance mentor-friend who inspired me to find Aladdin’s caves. I think I was seeking to fill the vacuum he left in our lives with his sudden departure.

The stars were aligned. The universe nodded its approval.

In Christopher Gan, we found a very good tango teacher. I swear, he has tango coursing in his blood. He has been coming from Seremban to Penang almost monthly to teach us for the past 2 years. As our community grew in numbers, even Argentinian maestros came knocking on our door.

A shared interest and unity is Penang Argentine Tango( PAT)’s super power. PAT is friendly, inclusive and generous in sharing. In our daily life, the first conversation with someone new often is, “ What do you work as?” In our tango community we are not judged by our profession nor status. We are not judged. For me, one of the simplest joys is to strap on my dance heels and see the smiling faces of my Tango Family.

In our regular practicas, we work together on what we have learnt in the workshops.

Prácticas are safe places to fumble and stumble so that we may have wonderful evenings dancing together at monthly dance socials called milongas – elegant evenings where we dress up and dance the night away!


PAT had a tango holiday in Ipoh recently.  Ipoh is a charming place full of friendly people.  PAT organised a beginners workshop there and our dancers participated in a Tin Miners’ Milonga at 22 Hale Street as well as a Tea Milonga at Royal Ipoh Club. With the help of our instructors, VOILA! PAT ‘delivered’ a new tango baby named ‘ATI’ – short for ‘Argentine Tango Ipoh’.

PAT’s mission is to nurture little ATI into another lively community of tangueras and tangueros. I’m also looking for opportunities to return for Ipoh’s unique brand of chee cheong fun! Penang cannot find one!


Argentine tango may have had very humble beginnings among migrant workers of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s.  Missing their loved ones and their homeland, these workers spent evenings dancing the tango after a hard day’s work . It was made fashionable in Europe in the early 1900s by the rich and now people travel to major cities around the world to dance it socially.

Tango is famously a dance about connection. Connection with the music, connection between the partners, and connection with ourselves. Unlike standard (ballroom) tango, social argentine tango is danced only for the 2 persons and not for display to the outside world.

Join us in the tango journey. Why not give it a try? Now…. how about that cup of Ipoh white coffee?

Coming tango workshop in Ipoh will be on 25/5/24. Please refer to poster below for more information. Please register with payment by WhatsApp to YPY @ +6012 5521813 by 22/5/24. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Argentine Tango Penang @ PAT for a schedule of tango activities in Ipoh and Penang

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