Paso Han arrived in Buenos Aires in the beginning of December last year with one aim, to dance tango and learn Spanish. Now seven months later he is becoming a real porteño, dancing tango like Gardel was behind him, whipping him.
For the record, Paso Han is not his real name. He was born Yoon Chul Hu in Busan, South Korea, 31 years ago. But since he is here in the name of tango, we will honour him and call him by his tango alias, Paso Han.
First off, I have to ask you, how did you come up with the name Paso Han?
I took the name Han Gul Hm in Korea when I started to dance tango. Han translates to ‘uno’ or ‘grande’ (one or great) and Gul Hm to ‘el paso’ (step or passage). When I came here this then became ‘Paso Han’, meaning ‘Un Paso’ or ‘Gran Paso’ (a step or great step). Dancing tango is not something I can rush, but it’s a slow transformation. I hope to become a great name in tango, therefore the name is ‘a great step’.
What did you do before you arrived in Buenos Aires?
Actually I went to university to study mechanics and cars. Upon graduation I worked in a pharmaceutical company, quite strange or what? At this point I started dancing ballroom as a hobby. Then I started taking it more seriously and slowly became a professional ballroom dancer.
So you weren’t one of those who were born with dancing shoes on?
No, I didn’t dance as a child. I did martial arts like tae kwon do, aikido and taeken. Like I mentioned, I didn’t start dancing until university. I fell in love with a dance partner at this time and I loved dancing with her. That is also when I first started dancing with a partner, up until this point the only dancing I had done was imitation what they did on TV. I enjoyed working with a partner a lot and slowly turned my new hobby into work.
How did you become interested in tango?
Well, one day I was offered a free tango lesson by coincidence. That is when I heard tango music for the first time and I loved it. It was so beautiful! There is a sense of reality and truth and honesty in tango that you won’t find in ballroom dancing. My interest in tango grew strong and I wanted a change, unfortunately my partner wanted to keep on dancing ballroom so we went our separate ways. Now I only dance tango, nothing else.
What is it that you like so much with tango?
I don’t know to be honest (he laughs). Tango is the dance for me. It has emotion, heart, passion, loneliness… I have this idea of tango being present in all aspects of life. Because of this I find the dance so interesting. I used to like modern tango, but now I am more into salon tango. I like the traditional.
Where do you dance here?
I work at a tango dinner show called ‘Milonguisimo’ in Confiteria la Ideal on Fridays and in La Barrica, a restaurant in La Boca on Thursdays and Sundays.
So, in the future, this is where can we come and see you perform?
Yes, and also, my tango group will have a show on 16th June in Lugones 3161. You can come along to that too.?
How is Buenos Aires treating you? Is it very different from Korea?
I am still studying the Argentine and porteño culture, but I don’t know that much. I guess it’s not that different. Both Koreans and Argentines are human. There is a lot of shit in the street. In the beginning I found this horrible, but now it’s getting better.
What are your plans for the future?
Primarily I would like to become a great tango dancer. I want to continue teaching and perform. I would also like to arrange and do a tango show here, but I still have so much to learn so this might not happen in a few years. At the moment though, I am considering settling down and live here. I am also going to Korea to attend a tango festival there.
Tango Festival in Korea? Wow, tell me more about that. Is tango popular in Asia?
Well there are several tango festivals in Korea actually. I am going to festivals in Busan and Jeju. All Koreans know about the dance but very few dance it themselves. The festivals that exist are only for Koreans thought, so I would like to do one in the future for all of Asia to enjoy. Later, I want to travel around the whole world – dancing tango.