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Let’s Dance

When people think of Argentina, they think of Tango (though many think of steak!). When I get to Buenos Aires, I want to learn to dance the tango so did some research into it and it came as a surprise to me that the dance form was only born just over a 100 years ago. I thought of it as a much more ancient form. Here is an interesting excerpt from a great book I am currently reading called Bad Times in Buenos Aires by Miranda France.

The tango started life as a symptom of a city with growing pains. A hybrid of sailor’s song and Italian dance tune played on a German accordion, the genre was born in the ports of Buenos Aires around 1880 when the city was still a frontier town and more than half its inhabitants were new arrivals from the poorest parts of Europe…..Tango became the anthem of a generation of homesick and sometimes desperate immigrants. Usually set in Buenos Aires, the songs always yearned for a happier past. Many of them were addressed to the singer’s mother or an ex-lover. Often the sentiment was desperate, suicidal…….

Soon after the haunting music was invented, it was accompanied by a strange dance which in view of the shortage of women at the time, men danced with each other – hence the wary physicality of some movements. By the turn of the century, the city’s brothels had started hiring out their women as dance-partners by the hour, but tango’s popularity was still restricted to sailors, low-lifers and small-time assassins…… ‘Perhaps tango’s real purpose is to give Argentina the certainly of having once been valiant’ Borges wrote.

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  1. October 19, 2010 at 11:06

    What a great line!

    ‘By the turn of the century, the city’s brothels had started hiring out their women as dance-partners by the hour, but tango’s popularity was still restricted to sailors, low-lifers and small-time assassins……’

  2. October 19, 2010 at 18:16

    Which one do you identify with? 😉

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