|"Everyone can dance tango," insists Argentina's Santiago Rafael Martino. [Photo by Kuang Linhua / China Daily]|
Santiago Rafael Martino glides across the floor of the Tango Hui dance studio in the Chaoyang district of Beijing, clapping his hands in time to the music."Now, ladies will feel the pleasure of being held by the man and moving around the floor to the music," Martino tells the nervous looking dancers taking part in their first ever tango lesson.
The women don't look like they are receiving much pleasure as they cling awkwardly to their partners, who clumsily guide them across the floor, but Martino looks on approvingly as he strides around the room clapping: "One-two-three, one-two-three!"
It may look like an ordinary dance class, but Martino is no ordinary dance teacher. He is the head of culture at the embassy of the Republic of Argentina.
Meanwhile, the shuffling dancers with their hesitant steps are not only learning to tango - they are being introduced to the culture of Argentina.
On Sunday afternoons at the Tango Hui dance studio and on Tuesday nights at a bar in Beijing's diplomatic hub of Sanlitun, Martino connects China to his homeland through dance floor diplomacy.
"In the dance studios sometimes you see not only the flag of Argentina, but also Mate (the nationally popular drink) and figurines representing Argentina," proudly says Martino, who is also instrumental in bringing Argentine film and literature to China.
Martino, 38, was an accountant until 2007 when he decided on a career change and joined the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship.
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