Not just anyone can really feel tango. To truly embody Argentine tango one must sensually experience it in the place where it was born—Buenos Aires. One must eat, breathe and live tango. To live tango one must grasp what it feels like to walk down the cobblestone streets of Buenos Aires with the person you love, a dear friend, your mother or alone. You must walk with the Argentine cadencia and hear and feel the compás (rhythm) of the tango beneath your feet. As the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges says, tango is “una manera de caminar” [a way to walk].
Tango is the porteño (native from Buenos Aires) walking along Avenida Corrientes, the porteños standing on the corner “charlando,” (gossiping) with a cigarette in one hand, while the other hand gestures dramatically to show they are passionately involved in their conversation or whispering sensual comments to women passing by. It is the porteña woman, sitting alone at a table in a milonga (a social space where tango is danced), sipping a glass of vino tinto (red wine), encircled by smoke. Her dark sorrowful eyes follow the tanguero standing across the room, waiting for his eyes to meet hers and invite her to the dance floor—-This is tango.
It is the culture, the smell of the city streets, the animated taxicab rides, it is the Argentine passion and pride in their culture. Tango is Buenos Aires and it is the porteños. Tango is Carlos Gardel, his idolized face and smoking jacket. Tango is succumbing to the man’s power, it is seduction, it is comfort in the embrace, it is reflection and contemplation. It is sensual, embodied experience.