I once met a German in San Telmo who, without the slightest hint of irony, was dressed head to foot in the attire of a tango dancer. At one point I think he even tilted his trilby down to the side so it slightly covered one eye, or maybe I just want to remember him doing that.
There’s a whole industry based on glam-tango for export, which is fair enough. People go to Leicester Square for “We Will Rock You”, so why shouldn’t Buenos Aires capitalize on spectacular show-time versions of its musical heritage?
Impressive though they often are, the women in high heels and smartly suited men strutting and twirling their way through highly choreographed routines aren’t going to inspire me to trip the light fantastic. Where I grew up dancing meant shrugging your shoulders a bit or jumping up and down if things got intense. Having to think about what one’s feet are doing makes the whole latin dance thing a bit too much like hard work.
Which isn’t to say I don’t like tango. I do, but rather than spending hours shuffling ungainly on a dance floor, I’ve found someone foolhardy enough to try and teach me how to play some of the classics of the genre on the guitar. Here’s a video on youtube (with permission) of Alejandro playing Soledad at a snail´s pace so I can see what his fingers are doing.
After a couple of months of classes, I’ve learnt just about enough to pluck and strum along with a friend of ours, who is a very accomplished bandoneon player. All of which puts me firmly in the same class of cultural vampire as the German dancer. I just haven’t bought myself a trilby yet.