Lou Blouin, left, and Morgan Evans-Weiler onstage at Traverse City's InsideOut Gallery.

Lou Blouin, left, and Morgan Evans-Weiler onstage at Traverse City’s InsideOut Gallery.

Gary Howe

I was a tango virgin until the blue-sky winter Sunday when I first saw Barefoot Tango perform. The show was at Leland’s sun-filled Old Art Building, and I came expecting stereotypical ballroom tango, the kind built for formal, stiff-armed dancing — you know, with the rose stem clenched between the teeth. But what I heard — and saw — blew me away.

The young and talented T.C.-based Barefoot Tango quartet specializes in nuevo tango, an Argentinian style attributed to 20th-century composer Astor Piazzolla, who revolutionized tango by fusing it with jazz and baroque elements. The result is a sensual, raw, dramatic music that is hugely emotional and totally mesmerizing. And oh, the dancing — it was enough to make me blush more than once that day, what with the couples slowly snaking across the dusty floor, eyes closed and bodies pressed tight.

Barefoot Tango formed little more than a year ago when Traverse native Lou Blouin, himself newly gripped by nuevo tango, was inspired to pick up his Gram’s old accordion. Through “Wanted: Tango Band” fliers, Blouin met Kalamazoo-based violinist Morgan Evans-Weiler — and as fate would have it, Evans-Weiler’s uncle, Chad Evans, was a pianist living in Honor. Upright bassist Jason Toth was added to the roster last fall, and, through chance and pluck, Blouin acquired a bandoneon — a rare accordionlike instrument used in authentic tango. “It’s like a soap opera,” Blouin says of the band’s short yet tale-worthy history. “But tango always is.”

Barefoot Tango is available for house concerts and milongas. For show dates and contact information, myspace.com/barefoottango.

For tango classes in Northern Michigan, see Dance the Tango.

Photo(s) by Gary Howe