"At events like Fedora's Wednesday-night dances with the band Tango Lorca, there are probably 100-150 people," he says. "And even in big tango cities like New York and Buenos Aires, live music is a kind of special occasion. Kansas City is lucky that way."
Tango instructor Roxanne McKenney, who is based in St. Louis, echoes Ireland's sentiment. "With the work I do in other cities -- my own included -- you see the dancers sectioned; they don't mingle that much," she says. "Kansas City has always been a melting pot of dancers."
Ireland and McKenney cover the basics but also teach classes such as Followers Sacadas, in which women learn how to lead their partners, and Flash & Trash, which has been described in press materials as "tango junk food -- you know you shouldn't, but it looks soooo good!"
Tango instructors use the term flash trash "to teach their students what not to do, Ireland explains. "For example, the gancho, where one leg is hooked around the partner's thighs or buttocks: It looks cool, but you don't get to do it much on the floor."
Part of Ireland's mission is slashing tango stereotypes, such as "the guy with greased-back hair and a rose in his teeth and the woman with the fishnet stockings and impossibly high-slit skirt," he says. "That comes out of movies from the '30s but has little to do with Argentine tango. Yes, it's racy and sexy, but there's a politeness about it. It's a little oasis of chivalry and manners in the midst of chaos."