Kansai Scene Magazine


The tango man

Maximiliano Paradiso

Growing up in Argentina, Maximiliano Paradiso remembers watching his grand- father dance. "At parties and weddings," he said, "he was always the best dancer. He was a tanguero!"

Eventually Maximiliano told his mother he wanted to learn the dance, and she brought him to a studio, but it would be a long time before he could truly embrace this part of his own culture.

So he began doing other things, many other things. He has been a massage therapist, he has studied acupuncture, he cooks, he writes, and he meditates. He did public relations work in Brazil, but then returned to his home in Buenos Aires. And all the while he was still flirting with the tango.

He would start lessons here or there, but was never satisfied, and would turn to something else like martial arts or break dancing. Then, one day, it all came together, the training in various disciplines, the meditation, the music, the Latin culture. As he sat, elbow to elbow with me, in Cafetin de Buenos Aires, his latest brain child, a combination dance studio and restaurant, I asked if he could remember the moment.

"Yes, the tango puts you in a very special place and intimate space in a very short period of time" he answered, "It was when I was hugging someone. The tango puts you are in a very intimate situation for a short period of time."

That hug set him off on a fifteen year course of studying the tango. Exploring the intimacy of the dance became, for him, both an inward and an outward journey of discovery. For a while, he says, he had to concentrate on mastering technique, but eventually was able to bring back to the intimacy that inspired him at first, and make the tango an avenue for sharing his Latin culture.

Maximiliano's journey along the path where the tango led soon became more that a metaphor and it has taken him around the globe. It brought him first to New York, which he says, reminded him of Buenos Aires, and where there was a growing tango culture. He lived there for eight years while studying and teaching tango. He held workshops, coordinated shows, did choreography for movies and advertisements, and danced on the stage and screen. He taught other celebrities to tango including Richard Gere for his role in Shall We Dance.

His last two years in the States were split between New York and Los Angeles where his dance partner, Yukako was living. It was during that time he began again to expand his horizons by touring in Asia. One year ago, he and Yukako (now also his business partner), came to Japan to live. Last month they opened Cafetin de Buenos Aires, which he describes as an Argentine tango bar, café, and bistro. When I asked what drew him to Japan he answered slyly, "Besides the sushi and the lovely girls, which are both delicious?"

In a more serious vein, he explained that he has been fascinated by Asian culture since he was seven. The respect for nature that is integral to Shinto beliefs, the historical traditions of Zen and the martial arts are things he has made part of his multifarious life for a long time and which make Japan a wonderful place to live.

In Cafetin de Buenos Aires Maximiliano continues to give tango lessons, to host tango parties, and to cook and serve authentic Argentine food, and put on dance shows, and screen Argentine films. There are the classes and tango parties on every Friday and Sunday. He is creating a venue where guests can be immersed in Latin culture, and experience the tango as a vibrant part of it.

"The tango has many faces," he says, "so anyone can do it. Tango is the most passionate and sutil dance of the world and it gives u the possibility to express your soul, no matter your dance skills or age or anything, while u share a very intimate space with differents human beings, it makes man self confident and woman more attractive and sexy".

Text: Alan Wiren • Photos: Courtesy Maximiliano

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Cafetin de Buenos Aires
B1F, Third Aoyama Bldg; 4-12-22 Nishi-tenma, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0004 (1-min walk from the US Consulate)
Open: Tue-Sat, 7pm-4am • Sun, 3pm-11pm Mon, 8pm-12am (only for salsa)
Tel: 06-6365-5708 • www.osakatango.com