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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dancing for Marcelo--and all Argentina!

I've been wanting to post again about Marcelo Tinelli's Bailando por un Sueño. the Argentine smash hit version of Dancing With the Stars, for some time now. Paddy beat me to it (and he's got more photos and even videos!), and Miss Tango also inspired me with her recent post.

It's astounding how important this show is in the Argentine culture, how much space it takes up. If you miss the live 10:30 p.m. nightly airing, the following day blow-by-blow recaps are on all the talk shows, with repeat video footage, and then repeats of the repeats. Each judge's scoring is hashed, rehashed and argued; if a dancer herself argues, so much the better--hooray, controversy and thus more press. Then of course the weekly celebrity magazines are full of the same photos. For those who want even more, Bailando also has it's own blog, complete with judges' scores and videos. Maybe the show is blown all out of proportion because being concerned with crucial events happening in Argentina and the world is too depressing. Que sé yo?

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires to live more than four years ago, I was sort of disgusted by the show and the exploitation of women's bodies, by all the plastic surgery, by all the pandering. But then with time, I got more used to the close-ups of the ladies' derrieres in the super-skimpy costumes and how it was more about how everyone looked than how they danced. As you can imagine, wardrobe and makeup are huge on this show. The stars on Showmatch are primarily vedettes, or showgirls and spokesmodels, so what can you expect? Sometimes they can dance well, more often they can't, but they all have gorgeous bodies. Once in a while they'll have a guy singer or comedian, but it's rare that a man is one of the stars dancing for his dream (help for various charities and worthy causes).

But also I became somewhat impressed with the variety of dances presented: salsa, cumbia, adagio, caño or pole dancing, strip tease, children's songs, ayé, milonga, cuarte tasso, rock 'n roll, rock nacional, disco latino, bellydance, and music videos (my personal favorite). Another good point besides the variety of dances, is that all the dances are performed as couples, so the pole dance, for example, had little stories to account for the male half of the couple. In the bellydancing, the guy was usually a sheik or a customer, but sometimes he shook it as well.

The truth is that the choreography is similar in whatever dance--designed to show the women's nether regions, and in the "sexier" ones (I use quotes because ALL of them are sexy, even the children's songs category), there is simulated uh, sex. All the dances include certain required lifts and trucos, as well as splits. And in the strip tease and pole dances, the girls exposed their breasts at the end.

What really took the cake, though, for me, a PC and sensitive North American, was the recent blackface makeup on a couple of contenders. I was so shocked I took photos of the TV screen to show you, because otherwise I bet you wouldn't believe me:

When I posted Stripper Dreams about Showmatch a year ago, I was amazed when checking the stats on how readers come to my blog, how many people searched Google for "naked tango," "nude tango," topless tango," and "stripper." So now that I'm using these words in this post, I guess even more people will arrive on tangocherie with hopes of seeing more than a milonga photo or a picture of my new cat.

At least they don't do a naked tango on Showmatch, for which I for one am thankful. Or they haven't done one yet.


n a n c y said...

UHm....please, please don't compare that to Dancing with the Stars which is all International Ballroom orientation with at least one certified ajudicator and the requisite costumes which stay in place. Maybe it is more like "So You Think You Can Dance" which incorporates, jazz, hip hop, etc.

But yes, I am always fascinated by those magazines especially knowing how very sexually naive the portenos are - even the well-known milonguero roues. And the hysterical women??? Don't even.

tangocherie said...

Nancy, Showmatch is the Argentine response to DWTS, International Ballroom rules or not.

Showmatch has its own rules: show as much of beautiful women's bodies as possible within the "parameters" of the various dance styles.

I've never seen "So You Think You Can Dance." Do they do Pole Dancing?

The "women as sex object" focus along with the fascination with transvestites, just proves once again that culturally speaking, Argentina is at least 10 years behind the western world.

The U.S. has been there, England is often still there, and France has never been there.

Guillermo y Mercedes said...

Hermoso el Blog!!
Saludos desde Rosario, Argentina
Guillermo y Mercedes
P.D: deja tu mensaje en Slide...

miss tango said...

I think the Argentines are making up for lost time. Did you know that porn was banned until the end of the military rule? So there was none of this, culos and twatage in the face like we have now.

Greece is actually worse btw...its quite funny, because they are prudish...yet kind of pervy. I remember one billboard ad EVERYWHERE that use a topless model to sell sunscreen. But I guess that is less offensive than seeing the culo con pussy shot. But the Eastern European Heavily pregnant women porn ad took the cake I must say.

tangocherie said...

Yeah, porn and tango banned for the good of the people. Hmmm...
So does that mean they go together? That somehow there's a relationship between culos and ochos?
I dunno, but then I could never think like a general.

Quickroute said...

Thanks for the link. It's funny what google searches end up on our blogs. Now you have "porn and tango" LOL!

Anonymous said...

The longer you live...

Can you just picture that last couple of DWTS?????

Suzy vegas said...

'England is often still there'?? DWTS is a rip of 'Strictly Come Dancing' and you have two of our judges - Bruno and Len. It's a slippery slope from the perfection of strictly through the hype of DWTS to Tinelli which doesn't deserve a mention. I for one will never get used to the use of a woman's culo as entertainment - it is desperate and barely disguises the Argentine Male's homoeroticism about which I rant on my own blog. f you want naked tango - the playboy channel is currently running a smutty little film x

tangocherie said...

Suzy, you misunderstood the last line of my comment. It was referring to the previous paragraph's "the woman as sex object focus along with the fascination with transvestites," not to a dance competition TV show.

I meant to say that English culture occasionally still has a prurient edge--topless bedroom farce, cross-dressing comedians, certain yellow journalism tabloids -- The Sun, The Daily Mirror, and The Daily Star which are read by the elite. In fact, the current issue of The Daily Star features a cover pic from Strictly Come Dancing that could have come from ShowMatch.