Petróleo – Interview to a dancer

At the time of this interview, Petróleo was nearly 80 years old, born in 1912 he started to dance in 1928. He was a bank clerk for 36 years, and lived in the neighborhood of Villa Devoto. In 1988, he gave up dancing because of an ailment in his knees, since then he is living of dreams.

«I was called Petróleo because I used to drink too much wine. I was a drunkard. Now I have only fizzy drinks, but it’s worse, it rusts you»

«I always liked uncomplicated tango. I changed tango dancing. I invented the turn, the contrafrente, the change of postures, the boleos»

«Furthermore, I separated sex from dancing. Before, a man was after a leg not a female dancer, to squeeze not to dance. I was after dancing. Getting to know your tango partner through rehearsals is very important, in such a way one knows the handling (leading)»

«In the milongas, dancing with corte was forbidden, if we did, somebody would come near and tell us: “Go to the ticket office” and there we were recommended or dismissed. We were called compadritos»

«Everybody can learn to dance, but there is a lot of work to be done and also you have to feel the music»

Tango does not come all of a sudden. I was taught by a professional, Navarro, he gave me his steps, later I made up mine»

«Tango is a refrained emotion which later bursts. It can’t be said tango is danced this way or the other, you have to dance it as you feel it, it’s a personal creation»

«My dream always was to dance better than anyone. I invented many figures, I transformed tango, but I ought to have made more. I lacked inspiration to create true tango. Today I would do it differently. As each tango lasts three minutes, I would divide it into a prologue, a development and an epilogue»

«You have to live your dreams, that’s the truth».

Carlos Alberto Estévez, Petróleo.

Published in the magazine La Maga, on 6 May 1992

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