Tango, Tango, Tango…

Tango is present in every aspect of Porteño life. It is impossible to immerse yourself in Buenos Aires without being surrounded by tango music and dance. Although San Telmo may be the birthplace of tango, some of the most sensational (albeit less traditional) tango shows are in the city centre, called the microcentro.

While we were staying in San Telmo we would often walk up Chacabuco, into the city centre and onto Avenida de Mayo and Florida. In fact, I would say most of our time in Buenos Aires has been spent just walking, discovering and soaking it all up.

At the end of Avenida de Mayo is the Casa Rosada. This famous casa is the presidential palace where Evita (Evita Perón) once used to excite crowds on the very pink balcony overlooking Plaza de Mayo.

Down behind the casa we visited the 18th century colonial ruins of the catacombs of the Fuerte Viejo, in the underground museum. The catacombs give a brief political history of Argentina in several half chambers. From independence in 1816 to today’s female President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, wife of left-leaning former President Néstor Kirchner.

   

Néstor was the President that helped Argentina curb corruption and rise up out of the debt crisis in 2002. In the last two chambers of the catacombs, between Cristina and Néstor, however, we couldn’t help but feel like it was all part of their campaign for the upcoming elections in October.

Avenida de Florida is like the Bourke Street Mall, or the Oxford Street of Buenos Aires. It’s jam-packed full of people, shops and pollution. There is also the famous shopping centre, Galerías Pacifico, the ceiling adorned with fresco artwork.

Our tango teacher in Melbourne had told us about the national tango school on the rooftop of the elaborate shopping centre. Just next-door to the school is the Centro Cultural Borges, which has several tango shows a week.

One night we went to see a show called ‘El Passion del Tango’, which was truly awe-inspiring. Despite the fact that this was more Vegas than Porteños, it was still a stellar performance. There were more twists and turns than Luna Park, and it’s hard to believe that the human body can move so fast. Unfortunately there were no cameras allowed, so you’ll just have to take our word for it!

Tango, we were told, literally led to cultural and economic revival of Buenos Aires. People would come to sing and dance tango. To our ears tango sounds like love serenades, although a local explained to us that the lyrics actually tell about politics and the story of the suffering people endured during the economic depression of the early 20th century.

The next day we went back to the Escuela Nacional de Tango to partake in some bailar ourselves. The class we take is Milonga, which is less energetic than tango and can essentially be considered as social tango, often danced in milongas ( dance halls). We learn a few new turns and put some old ones into practice.

Vamos a Bailar!

Back in San Telmo, we are told there are free shows all the time in the streets. Though tomorrow we are moving to Palermo so we’ll just have to miss out for now.

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  1. […] there’s tango. Tango has become a symbol of this city and can be found in every aspect of daily life. Many travellers […]



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  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
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