Another small pleasure of life (in addition to menu translations) is people who live up to their national stereotype. When we flew to Buenos Aires recently, the gate at the airport was total and cheerful chaos: but everyone got on, and we left on time. It was a foretaste.
To many, Argentina equals tango.<o:p>Argentina is enjoying a boom in tourism, and, according to the article “Argentina sees comeback of tango, for tourists” in The Buenos Aires Herald (February 3, 2008), fully 10 % of tourism income comes from tango. About 85% of tourists go to a tango show.. Tourists flock from all over the world to go to tango palaces, to tango bars (milongas), take tango lessons, etc. There is a 24 hour tango cable tv channel.
Tango started in the brothels of the port, and was considered scandalous by proper Argentines. But Europe took it up around 1910, and then it was acceptable in Argentina.
In the 1930s the tango star was the lounge lizard Carlos Gardel, who was shot by an irate husband. When he died in 1935 several women committed suicide because they could not imagine life without him.In the 50s and 60s tango was replaced by pop and rock groups. But when the military government of the 1970s forced many Argentines to take refuge in Europe, the refugees would listen to tango songs, which are like the blues: “I am out of luck, my girl has left me, I lost my job,” etc). The Europeans liked this music, and after the military government fell, Europeans flocked to Argentina expecting the tango.The Argentines, a little bemused, provided it. There are now tango tours of Argentina. In our hotel at breakfast we saw a group of Americans being shepherded by a young woman dressed in a tango outfit (no doubt to her embarrassment). Throughout the city there are pictures and statues of Carlos Gardel. Tango resounds in every shop. The street puppets sing and dance the tango.The effect is hallucinatory. Argentines dine at 10 or 11 PM, but they get up at 6 or 7 and do not take a siesta. We asked our guide when Argentines sleep. She said she had concluded they sleep less than other nations. I think they suffer from national sleep deprivation, and Argentine magic realism, the dreamlike state in which anything can happen, is the result. The anything includes