After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tango Universal

Although there are many ethnicities making up the population of Argentina (Italian, German, Spanish, among others), the people, especially the men, often have the “look” that marks them as portenos. Handsome and elegant, nevertheless there are dark circles under the eyes and lines of sadness in the faces. They are nostalgic for places they’ve never been, for lives not lived, for love not experienced, for people lost or never known—this is the tango.

Tango lyrics cover a gamut of subjects, but primarily the songs tell of loss. A typical tango is Margarita Gauthier by Nelson (Rossofsky)-Mora:

What do I want life for if my soul is ruined? ..
Today, on bended knee in the grave
Where your body rests.
I have given the tribute that your soul whispered…

And Abandono by Homero Manzi:

The wind of memory approaches
that corner of my abandonment
and amid the dead dust of yesterday,
your love also returned.
I don't know if you will live happily
or if you the world has defeated you...
If living without wanting to live,
you seek the peace of dying.

Human beings everywhere can identify with that sense of longing and loneliness. Even if the rationale is different, the emotions are universal. God knows, as an expat in Buenos Aires, I feel like a portena. Don't get me started on loss and loneliness.

In the United States we sing the blues and old cowboy songs, in Spain the gypsies cry flamenco with their hearts, in Portugal it’s fado. And even though we may not understand the words we recognize the feelings. We all want to go home again. When people respond to tango, no matter what culture they are from, it’s to an absolute, a spiritual connection to being human.

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