Tango classes put spin on Valentine’s Day


Photo Courtesy of Champaign Park District

Couples dance at a tango class offered by the Champaign Park District in 2016. Tango classes are a unique date idea for Valentines Day.

By Mary Kate Kiley, Staff Writer

This Valentine’s Day, couples can skip the standard dinner-and-a-movie date in favor of attending Springer Cultural Center’s Valentine’s Day Tango.

The event will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at 301 N. Randolph St. in Champaign. The cost is $10 for residents, which includes students, and $15 for non-residents. Registration closed on February 7th, but if you call 217-398-2376 there may be spots still available. Sparkling cider and chocolates will be served to the couples.

Gina Wojnar, organizer for the event, said this is the first time Springer Cultural Center is hosting this event, but regular tango classes are offered through the park district.

“The reason for doing this was that we noticed the tango dance classes were getting smaller and we wanted to offer an invitation for beginners and that they find interest in the class,” Wojnar said.

She said the class can be a good introduction to the regular tango classes offered, and this would be a great opportunity for couples in the area to find a unique activity to do for Valentine’s Day.

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“I think it’s a good activity because this would probably be their first time, and it’s new for both people. It’s very interactive, and I think because you’re bringing a partner you know, you’re not shy and awkward going through it together,” Wojnar said.

Wojnar, who graduated as a dance major from the University in 2014, worked with instructor Joe Grohens, an English professor at the University. Grohens first began to experience dance during college. He initially took a modern dance course and soon learned he was interested in the art and began to explore social dance classes such as ballroom and tango.

“At the time, tango was becoming popular and for me it just kind of clicked. Tango is one of those dances that requires a certain amount of study and practice; it’s a dance that has a lot to it,” Grohens said.

Grohens stressed that no special shoes or previous experience are required for this class. He also urged people who are curious about tango to attend this event.

“It’s a short lesson, and they can experience of feeling of tango and find out if they like it,” he said. “It’s also a good dance to start with. It’s a social dance that teaches a lot of skills that transfer to other social dances.” 

The hope for both Grohens and Wojnar is for people who find that they enjoy tango to attend the regularly offered classes through the park district to start seriously learning tango.

Not only will the Tango class offer a new opportunity, but it is a romantic gesture for a significant other.

“From a man’s point of view, a woman friend or wife would like to dance,” Grohens said. “In my experience, it’s a universal thing that women like to dance. It would make a female partner quite happy.”

The Valentine’s Day Tango is a new way for not only couples but friends to try something new.

Jessica Watson, sophomore in FAA, knows the intimidation that comes with trying a new dance but noted the importance of keeping an open mind and just having fun.

“It’s always great to get anyone dancing and to understand the importance of movement,” she said. “It could be super fun to get out of the house on a day like that, meet new people and have a good time.” 

Watson, who recently learned about the event, is excited to try it and bring friends from her dance classes.

“It can be really intimidating to take a dance class you aren’t used to, but if you go into the class with an open mind and just to have fun it could be a great experience,” Watson said.

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