The Story of Isla Del Tango

Malta is progressing nicely and catching up with the rest of Europe in its enthusiasm for The Tango.  The ebullience and effervescence of nowadays know their beginnings to 1997 when tango was showcased at every opportunity to the la-di-da and the hoi polloi alike.

The story as we know it goes like this…Charlotte Stuart returned to Malta after ten years in London and Nice in which time her passion for dance led her to the growing scene of Argentine Tango. If you are heavy in the scene, you will arrive on the doorstep of El Corte, The Tango Institution  in The Netherlands.  That is what happened to Charlotte and there she met Tango Maestro Eric Jørissen.  El Corte was to become a second home and a special place for great friendships and later on romance.

Eric Jørissen was game to come to Malta and give a hand to Charlotte Stuart and friend Mario Borg to organise the first workshop in April 1997 at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar.  After his first workshop in November, Aldo Calleja went to El Corte for a week of classes and dance events over Christmas that year, including the New Year Tango Marathon (a 72 hour dance feast) and he didn’t look back.

Isla Del Tango was formalised early 1998 and showcased Argentine Tango and held workshops in Malta with Maestro Eric Jørissen two or three times a year.  Aldo Calleja ‘enrolled’ as a student of El Corte and spent many years getting private tuition from Eric Jørissen and Komala Vos among others and subsequently followed the Teacher’s courses.

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From 1997 until 1998, Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar, Peppino wine bar in Spinola and Moondance in Paceville where the places used for demos and workshops.  For milongas, Labyrinth in Valletta has the habitual haunt.  Between 1999 the usual places for classes and milonga where Luciano’s  and St. James Cavalier in Valletta.  From 2008 to date, group classes are held at Top Floor, 31, Calleja Buildings, Bishop Labini Street in Birkirkara and milongas take place wherever a nice location is found for e.g. Villa Madama (Attard), Ku De Ta Meridien Hotel (Balluta), Palazzo Depiro (Mdina), Palazzo Xara (Rabat), the Royal Malta Yacht Club (Ta’ Xbiex) and Medasia Playa (Sliema).

In July 2001 Charlotte Stuart met the tanguero Sinan Vural at El Corte’s International Week, married and started a family. Isla Del Tango was glad to welcome Sinan, an experienced milonguero from Istanbul. Charlotte & Sinan gave lessons locally for a few years.

Photo by Elaine Bugeja

Natalie Debono, Aldo Calleja, Mario Borg, Charlotte Vural, Sinan Vural.

Aldo Calleja was the main tango teacher and organiser for a number of years and organised the first ever Malta Tango Festival with foreign dance performances,  professional tango quintet and professional teachers.  A good number of participants joined the locals for a memorable 3 day event in August 2003. During the years, other Maestros including Komala Vos, Stefan Wimmer, Henry Geurtsen, Jeusa Vasconselos and Eric Muller, David Lurie, Herve Cousin who have also given workshops and performances.  These were not easy times as dance was not something that the Maltese men easily opened up to.  Aldo Calleja carried on holding the tango torch high, in the times without internet and no easy access to promotion.

In January 2008 Natalie Debono started her very first tango class (with Tango Malta at that time run by Gordon Pace, Nathalie Mifsud and Claudia Pace).  Natalie, also caught by the passion of this dance and a brilliant organiser to add, was a welcome addition to Isla Del Tango.  Natalie has since been a regular at El Corte Tango School and always seeks to improve her dancing while enjoying the beauty and connectedness of the dance.  Currently Natalie takes care of the organisational and developmental aspects of Isla del Tango and assists in the teaching while Aldo is entrusted with the teaching and technical aspects.  Together they make a strong team.  Their union was blessed on the 8th of December 2012 when they married and organised a lovely tango wedding milonga.  The location for the wedding milonga was Bottegin Palazzo Xara, the place they met for Natalie’s first tango lesson.  The milonga was specially TJed by Diana Michel from Nijmegan, Netherlands and the first tango dance was Verde Mar. The tango wedding cake was entrusted to Patissiere Rita Knowles. The honeymoon was of course in Argentina culminating in a number of nights spent at the milongas of Buenos Aires.

Aldo and Natalie offer regular group and individual private tango lessons.

Tango 2008

Natalie Debono assisted by Aldo Calleja during her first Argentine Tango lessons in early 2008.

Isla Del Tango is proud to be affiliated to Tango El Corte in the Netherlands and is very grateful to Maestro Eric Jørissen. Eric is a constant source of inspiration in the teaching of Argentine Tango and in the demands of an ever growing Tango community in Malta.  Appreciation also goes to other brilliant teachers who over the years gave a hand in strengthening tango in Malta.

Argentine Tango, to be enjoyed with every step, is a social, people’s dance of two persons. It takes a few steps to start ones’ Tango journey and each dancer can decide the pace and distance to be travelled. Isla Del Tango organises events to share knowledge and experience with anyone caught by the magic of the Argentine Tango.

Photos from the first first international tango event with workshops, tango quintet and dance shows in Upper Barrakka, Valletta.  This event was superbly organised by Aldo Calleja in 2003 and was entitled The Malta Tango Milonga.

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