It Takes You to Tango

A South Bay woman overcomes heartbreak with the help of her own two feet.

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    Ilona Glinarsky

Argentine tango is not merely a dance. It is a conversation between two bodies and two hearts.

I discovered social partner dance 17 years ago. It was the same year that I turned 30 and was facing the toughest transition in my life: my marriage of 10 years coming to an abrupt end followed by the loss of my mother to cancer. Feeling numb, bereft and desperately looking to fill the empty spaces in my life, I stumbled upon a local community dance class and decided to take the plunge. 

My first love affair was with salsa. It was that happy, percussion-driven music that slapped me in the face and said, “Wake up! Life is short! Let’s play!” 

This vivacious dance jolted me back into my body and reawakened my sensuality and passion, which lay dormant for many years. I was immediately hooked. 

Then one day Argentine tango found me. As I was leaving my salsa class, I heard the faint, tantalizing sounds of a vintage tango, dominated by violins and the breathy bandoneon. I walked toward the music, and my eyes caught a glimpse of the dancing couples, each wrapped in a peaceful embrace, floating on the dance floor like in a sweet dream. 

I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and a deep longing for an intimate connection with another. I could never have imagined that just a few years later, I would be considered one of the most respected tango instructors and dance event organizers in Los Angeles.

Tango turned out to be more than just another beautiful dance. It reached into deep places within my soul that longed to be healed. Contrary to common perception, it is not just about fancy footwork and patterns, which merely represent the outer layer. 

Tango is a dance based on connection—a sharing of energy between two equal partners. This is a dance that requires both partners to embody their roles and be fully present in each moment, like a meditation in which two people move as one. And most addicting of all, dancing with another in a close, tender embrace (abrazo) feels like coming home after a long journey. 

I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love every day of my life, to share this gift of dance with so many people whose lives become transformed by it. Those who are courageous enough to give tango a try are generously rewarded, becoming a part of a magical world and partaking of its treasures. 


Ilona Glinarsky (pictured) is an Argentine tango instructor and life coach who offers group and private instruction in various locations throughout Los Angeles and the South Bay. For more information about her and her teaching approach, visit