Monday, August 18, 2008

Macho Posturing as an Art Form

tango palace on Av de 9 julio

Yesterday evening I attended an "espectáculo de tango" at the Borges Cultural Center (not what is shown in the photo above). Probably the most exciting part of the evening was when I managed to dislodge a filling while ill-advisedly chewing a Mentos (a hazard that somehow gets downplayed in those zany commercials of theirs). So I'm sure that some future post will deal with life in an Argentine dentist's office.

But anyway - yes - the tango. Well, avid readers of this blog will recall that, where THE DANCE is concerned, I am something of a philistine. There was that unfortunate giggling episode at the flamenco performance in Sevilla last year, induced by the deadly seriousness of the performers and the mild whorishness of the female dancer's costume. Of course, THE TANGO takes itself very seriously as an art form as well, nowhere more than aquí in Buenos Aires. Though at least the costumes weren't as overtly whorish.

The performance lasted an astonishing 90 minutes, roughly 7 of which, in my view were worth the price of entry (10 US dollars, so I'm not really complaining about that). That is, there were roughly seven minutes in which one was mesmerized by the dancing. Problem is, in order to spin things out into a "spectacle" of 90 minutes, there had to be some kind of gimmick. The gimmick was this: there were 3 men and 3 women on stage (and the usual chairs, to be used as clichéd props). Elementary combinatorics shows that this allows for a total of six possible pairings (in the macho world of the tango, don't look for any non-normative coupling). So, the added entertainment value was to watch as assorted couples formed and reformed, or batted their eyelashes, or sulked, for a total of 90 minutes.

Well, excuse me for saying so, but that kind of inane musical chairs is about as interesting to watch as Heidi and Spencer on "The Hills". Or wondering which cheerleader will go to the prom with which jock. At least the cheerleaders and jocks don't mope around with expressions of mock solemnity as if their pet parrot had just died.

So, for the seven minutes or so that the dancers actually danced the tango - that part was great! The rest was forgettable, yawn-inducing padding. But I know that you will want to hear my impressions expressed in verse. So here goes:

(continue at your own risk)

Truth be told, I'd rather watch a particularly hairy orang-utan go
apes**t crazy over finding the ripest, the juiciest, the most perfect, mango
than submit to watching another macho, but secretly fruity, Argentine man go
sneer at his partner as he drags her across the floor in that faintly misogynistic ritual known hereabouts as THE TANGO

There's more, but I'm not sure my gentle readers have done anything to deserve it. Oh, OK, if you insist:

Everyone raves: "as soon as you can, go
see a show; it beats everything, even the music of jazz great Django
Reinhart; don't go alone, get together a gang, go
in a group." But here's the thang, tho'*
I know it's heresy to say it I can think of a dozen things I'd rather do -- catch up on my Jack London, read Call of the Wild again, or maybe Fang. Oh...
I know it qualifies me as a philistine but fact is I'd rather curl up with the budget proposal of a particularly earnest Quango**,
listen to Mirella Freni singing Cio-Cio San, go
see Robert Downey starring as Iron Man, go
watch Brando find new uses for butter in that last Parisian tango.
Heck! Even take classes in how to throw a boomerang. Oh!
Please spare me all the fuss and fandango.
Fact is: there's almost nothing I want to do less than sit through another unintentionally hilarious performance of Argentines and Tinas going through that argy-bargy ritual they call THE TANGO.

*: poetic licence.

**: Quango = Quasi non-governmental organization.

(OK: I've been slightly exaggerating my antipathy here, for entertainment purposes. Fact is, the parts of the show where they actually were dancing the tango were riveting. It's just the padding I found underwhelming)

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