Las Tanguerías de Buenos Aires – Argentina

Tango – the King of the Night

The tango is Argentina’s celebration of machismo, domination, and tormented love, and it is the very air the porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) breathe. This anguished lament, transformed into an intricate and exquisite dance, is the most authentic of Argentine creations. The tango’s popularity has waxed and waned since the heady days of the 1920s, when the suave and darkly hand­some singer Carlos Gardel drove the country wild before dying tragically in a 1935 plane crash. Tracking down the tango in Buenos Aires is both easy and impossible: it is everywhere and nowhere.

A recent resur­gence of tangomania confirms that this indigenous popular music has survived the era of rock ’n’ roll, and some of the large dance halls, such as El Viejo Almacén and Casa Blanca, still put on an emotion-packed nightly show with the coun­try’s finest tango dancers, singers, and musicians. To see tango in its natural habi­tat – the classic small, smoky, dimly lit tango bar, where things don’t start happening till the far side of midnight – the casual Bar Sur is the place to go. On Sundays at the weekly flea market at the Plaza Dorrego, a number of amateur tanguistas perform spontaneous shows on street corners – minus the flash and maybe with less polish, but from the soul.

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