A blend of sex and chess

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
One of the things that makes Tango entertaining is its over-the-top sense of drama. 

Recently a dispute has broken out in the Tango community in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As the Wall Street Journal reports in its article Foreigners Out-Dip Locals in the Dance, Making Them Increasingly Unwelcome, local Tango dancers are trying to bar foreigners from a dance competition called El Metropolitano.

There is some fairness in the local's complaints -- El Metropolitano is a preliminary to a larger contest called the Dance World Cup. It does seem that it should be selecting Argentinian representative for the latter contest. However, there is also a fair amount of xenophobia mixed in with the complaints because many of the foreigners are ex-pats and long time residents of Argentina.

The dispute has landed in Argentinian courts. Add to the mix some snotty suggestions that the Argentinian Tango dancers are worried that the foreigners are better dancers and passions are flaring. Mind you, passions always flare in Tango, so for it to get even more dramatic is an achievement of no small measure.

Below is an excerpt from the article. My title is another quote from the article, so be sure to read the whole thing to get the full flavor of it all.
But shunting non-Argentines into a "tango ghetto" just isn't acceptable, according to Christian Rubilar, the foreign dancers' Argentine lawyer. "The dance floor is supposed to be the most democratic space in Argentina," says Mr. Rubilar, who is not only a constitutional law expert but also a tango dancer himself. He says that the Metropolitano's barriers stem in part from anxiety that more and more foreigners are now better at the national dance than well-practiced natives are.

Mr. Rubilar says that in 2010, Ms. Saito and her Korean partner, the pair that was heckled, might have won the Metropolitano, but they were barred from the finals by requirements that at least one of the pair have resided three years in Buenos Aires. Ms. Saito said they had the proof, but organizers kept demanding more paperwork. In court filings, city lawyers said that many foreigners didn't have their paperwork in order and discrimination hasn't been a factor.

Now, Mr. Rubilar is preparing to make the dance dispute a federal case. Analysts note that it may help the dancers' cause that federal courts are under the sway of the leftist Peronist party, which opposes the conservative city government. "Constitutional principles are at stake," Mr. Rubilar says, not just a dance contest.

"For us, this is over," said the city spokeswoman Ms. Solarz, in a tone suggesting that the foreign dancers really need to move on.

(HT Fausta's blog)

Of course, a Tango post needs a Tango video, so below is the Gotan Project, who I think are actually French and who a lot of Tango purists bitch about, doing Milonga De Amor.


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