We have become so enthralled with everything that publicizes and promotes the Argentine Tango to the general public that we have failed to pay attention to a very damaging flaw on the spin that is being placed on the description of the dance for the general audience.
Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango recent appearance at AN EVENING AT POPS, at Symphony Hall in Boston was a major achievement. Now, in anticipation of the national broadcast of the program, we read that born in the bars and bordellos of Argentina a century ago, the tango is described by show creator Bravo as “a way of life.”
Given the exotic appeal of the dance, it would be easy to infer that tango as a way of life means to act and behave like pimps, johns and prostitutes. Sadly, some do; poignantly, a notorious few carry out the beguiling practice of sleeping their way to dubious fame with every willing visitor traveling under the guise of a tango personality, regardless of their age.
This notoriety is so unfair for the thousands of respectable, distinguished and passionate men and women who, every day in every city, embrace with respect, affection and enjoyment the ritual of tango dancing. They are, for all practical purposes, responsible for the huge success that the Argentine tango is enjoying worldwide. They take classes, buy videos and CDs, attend workshops, travel to tango events and support all activities that heighten the awareness of the tango to wider sectors of our society. Remarkably they do it unassumingly, with the conviction of a true believer.
Unfortunately, sex sells even if it is gift wrapped under the seductiveness of an exotic dance and the promise of the ultimate experience. That is the price that a free society has to afford in order to enjoy many other freedoms and choices. I suggest that a cancer survives when it finds cells unaware of the ravishing consequences of its power of destruction. The magnificent body that constitutes a tango community needs to exercise its choice to reject the pernicious elements who debase the beauty and charm of the milonga as a pleasurable place for social encounter and gratification.
Luis Bravo and Forever Tango, who over the past few years have provided employment for hundreds of dancers, musicians, technicians and personnel of all ages, while offering a product of the highest quality, deserve the recognition and accolades that the critics and public have bestowed upon them, not because some like to portray them as promoters of low life bordello stereotypes, but because of their sheer talent, impeccable work ethics and relentless pursuit of excellence in the delivery of a production of the highest quality. They deserve our loudest cheers and applause.
The time for recognition and appreciation for the countless young men and women, middle-age housemates and incredibly youthful grand parents from our tango communities, who open their arms and hearts to give us many very special “three minutes” of elegance, poise, and charm in a setting of decor and respect, is also largely overdue.