Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In Argentina, You Gotta Tango!

Please welcome freelance writer and photographer Beverly Burmeier as a guest blogger today. Beverly lives in Austin and travels the world on assignments. Her blog is “Going On Adventrues.” Welcome, Beverly.

Thanks, Caroline. One of the best ways to get a feel for local life when traveling is by sampling popular passions. In Buenos Aires, Argentina, that means learning to tango. That’s why I ended up in a tango class, trying to contort my gringo body into Carmen-style sultriness.

The passion inherent in the tango has inspired an entire culture in this romantic South American city—a culture with all the charms of Europe but without the high price tags. Buenos Aires is a bargain for travelers, whether the city is a port on a cruise or your primary destination.

Our first night in Buenos Aires my husband Larry and I put on our dancing shoes for an evening tour that included group lessons on basic tango steps followed by a traditional steak and wine dinner. Listening to the tango beat, we mimicked our instructor’s slinky walking steps and quick kicks. We learned to shuffle our feet to the music, moving our bodies somewhere between graceful and gawky, but nowhere near the agile, athletic moves we later saw in a professional performance.

Show-stopping tango contrasts with the social version enjoyed by portenos (local residents), which is quite different and has unwritten rules such as men and women sit separately and a nod of the head is an invitation to dance. Visitors can step out on the floor of the local dance halls or milongas—if they’re brave or skillful enough. Or they might opt to enjoy people watching while sipping a drink. Locals don’t really get swinging until 11:00 p.m. Too late for you? There are dancing opportunities five days a week at afternoon milongas.

History of the tango was showcased through the different dances performed to live music. Originally performed only by men, tango had its origins in lawlessness and was once considered scandalous by the upper class. Highlights of the show we attended covered the dance’s evolution through Europe and back to Argentina into the glamorous choreographed production numbers presented today by women in slit sequined skirts and men in tight pants and fedoras.

Tango was fun to try, but I feel more passion when applauding the talented dancers on stage.

Beverly Burmeier is a freelance writer based in Texas. She writes for national and regional publications on a variety of topics including travel. Find her at http://www.beverlyburmeier.com/ and http://tinyurl.com/bevtrl and her blog for more of her intriguing travels.
Thanks for visiting today, Beverly!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Great article, Beverly. Thanks for being my guest.

Avery Michaels said...

Wonderful article! So much of the world out there I would love to visit. And since I can't, I love reading about it.