La Boca Argentina

We sat down with Argentine tango star, Hector Marciano Salinas to hear about what gives Tango it’s rhythm 

“To dance, your soul must talk to another, and tango is no exception. From the first step through to the last beat you must give yourself to the dance to really connect with your partner and feel the emotion behind it.”

The tango is one of the most popular dances in the world, originating in the late 19th century along the suburbs of the Uruguay-Argentina border, Rio de la Plata. Argentine tango differs from tango in the sense that no set steps are in place, therefore it relies solely on the dancers’ improvisation, making every dance unique. 

With an array of late-night milongas (events offering tango) scattered across Buenos Aires, the tango scene never sleeps in this electric city. To gain a deeper insight and understanding into Argentina’s signature dance, Daisy sat down with Argentine tango teacher and dancer, Hector Marciano Salinas to talk about all things tango. 

Tango in Buenos Aires

Daisy: Tango in Argentina paints a very romantic picture in my mind, what makes it so special?

Hector: Tango was born in the small suburbs of the Rio de la Plata and is now known worldwide both in music and dance. During the development of Argentine tango, couples change their partners between tanda and musical tanda, the man with the ‘head nod’ invites the woman to dance with him, it’s almost like an unspoken rule. The dance is performed by couples in social gatherings and choreographed moves are improvised accordingly depending on the expertise of each dancer. 

So as both an Argentine tango teacher and dancer, when you step out onto stage to perform how do you feel?

Personally, the tango not only identifies me but it fills my soul. I need it to live physically and spiritually. I love to dance and I love to entertain, so when I go out to dance I feel a great sense of inner-satisfaction, and in order to share the raw emotion with the audience, I firstly connect with myself and then with my partner.

Tango show in Buenos Aires

What an empowering feeling. So was dancing something you were always passionate about as a child then?

Well, from a young age my parents set me off on the path of dance. Family influence was very important given that in my grandmother’s house our family would often gather together around the campfire for ‘guitarreadas’,  where a couple of us would play the guitar and the rest would sing along. Often an uncle would show off as they danced the Chacareras and Zamba, two popular traditional folk dances in my Province of Santiago Del Estero. 

What a great environment to grow up in. Is there one childhood memory that stands out for you?

My grandmother was so passionate about tango music, I remember to this day her tuning the radio every morning to listen to tango FM. But actually, my interest and curiosity stem from my decision to move to the big city of Buenos Aires to specialise in and continue my studies of dance and folklore in the National University of Art. This is the moment I discovered the milongas and passion for tango.

Tango lessons in Argentina

Can you tell me more about the history of tango in Argentina?

Well as I previously mentioned, Rio de la Plata along the Argentina-Uruguay border was the birthplace of the tango back in the 19th century, and it’s amazing we can now say it’s a global cultural phenomenon practiced all over the world. 

However the tango didn’t have much social acceptance initially. The border had a large immigration focus and those who arrived at the port were able to visit the nearby brothels once they had stepped foot here. In the brothels, men would search for women to hang out with, which subsequently led to the tango being danced more and more often. This meant the tango didn’t have much social acceptance at first, however after its arrival in France via popular orchestras and singers such as the talented Carlos Gadel, it soon became widely accepted in Buenos Aires.

Argentina was always open to immigrants in different stages of history and I think that this is a fundamental point for the birth of tango. Tango that is the influence of different cultures and the appropriation of the country, resulted in what today is musically and as a dance, tango.

So would you say the tango is important to the identity of Argentina?

I recognise Argentina is identified worldwide for the tango, but for me I believe it represents Buenos Aires rather than the whole country due to the city’s popular culture. To put into context, it’s similar to the Chamame for the coast, the Chacarera for Santiago del Estero and the Carnivalito for the Puna Jujeña. The colour, the people and the magical atmosphere of Buenos Aires makes it the perfect place to learn and dance the tango in Argentina. 

You mentioned your family played a part in your passion for tango. What advice would you give to those who are eager to get involved?

I would suggest they travel to the milongas first to truly understand the dance, origins and culture. After they have an insight into the passion behind the dance, I would reach out and talk to real tango teachers to get a different perspective as a lot of business and opportunism stems from the aspiring tutors.

We’ll leave with food for thought. What does it mean to live a good life?

I don’t actually think the ‘good life’ exists, life needs to be lived, and each person is responsible for how they live it, everything is in the balance, the connection with your inner self.

 

After speaking with Hector it’s evident that dancing and teaching the Argentine tango is more than just his hobby and career, it’s his life-long passion. At Black Tomato we love meeting and making connections with people from all corners of the world, learning what makes their work so special and getting a glimpse into their country’s culture. Come with us and explore the world of tango in Buenos Aires, meeting Hector along the way.

Tempted to learn the tango with Hector?

Slip on your dancing shoes and explore the best milongas in Buenos Aires, the tango capital of the world. Get in touch today to start planning your bespoke trip to Argentina.

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