Take Two And Tango In Buenos Aires

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I returned to the Plaza Dorego in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of San Telmo to watch the people dance. Every Sunday Night, one side of the plaza is reserved for a milonga — the Argentine word for a place to tango. It’s a tradition for the class to go. Every Sunday.

To the right, a samba band started — loud drums, hooting, hollering.

“It is completely disrespectful. This is Argentine culture and they are ruining it,” my friend said.

I tried to hide my tapping toes.

Tango (much like mate and football and steak) is a part of Argentine pride (although some Uruguayans will claim the dance as their own. Who knows? Not I.) To put down tango would be like saying “hockey sucks” to a Canadian or “wine is better” to a German. Or would it be?

There can be a lot of negative aspects associated with globalization (marginalization, poverty, infringement of human rights, etc . . .), but the reality is, it is happening and there is some good stuff, too. I know of some amazing people who, when traveling, tried to help out where they could, volunteering, exchanging cultural ideas, bringing over wine for friends, essentially just being conscientious people. Most of us are. One couple I had the pleasure of traveling with even took in a dog off the streets one cold, Argentine-autumn night. I guess you do what you can when you can.

So it was when reading a recent article on tango in the New Zealand Herald, that I started thinking about fusion. What started this spark was when Geoff Cumming, the writer of the article, wrote that “Palermo is where you find your cutting-edge Latin beats.”

I wondered, why?

Perhaps because it’s newer.

As an observation, many of the younger generations are getting back into tango. Perhaps their grandparents or parents are encouraging them to upkeep tradition. What is really fascinating is that these kids nowadays are putting their own spin on it.

The other day when walking through the San Telmo Ferai, I saw a fusion-CD that read “The Beatles/Tango remix”.

Ok. So, The Beatles are not current and neither are CDs, but I thought the idea was incredible.

Back at tango class, they started putting on more “current” tango tunes — accordions mixed with electronica, or Portishead-like ambient music.

I wondered what a tango/samba remix would sound like?

Like all new things, it’s not something we can get used to right away. But, eventually we would and dance the waves.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog, TheBubblesAreDead.wordpress.com.

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