Thursday, January 19, 2012
La Boca Tango
A good way to see a new city is to use the tour bus, not to take the tours, per se, but to get an overview as to what the new city has to offer. We chose the yellow, hop on/off line, because we saw them a few days ago and knew their starting point downtown. Like Porteños, as the locals call themselves, we now know the subway system. Knowing the bus route is quite another matter and we are still learning. So we chose the yellow bus line, a double-decker arrangement and took a 2 day ticket for 90 pesos instead of the daily for 70 Pesos.
The first points of interest shown to us from the bus were the Cathedral and the Pink House. It became instantly clear that taking this bus would not give us an ‘in depth’ tour but just an indication of the highlights of the city. To show, in general terms, what the city has to offer for later, more detailed explorations. So we bounced along, on the upper most deck, plugged in to a recording, listening to all the details of the construction of a building, of an ‘important’ General, of dates, dates and more dates. Naturally, I just heard the drone of it all and did not retain one building, one date or one important person. All of that does not matter; I am more interested in seeing how the Porteños live, how they spend their daily lives, how they think of themselves. I look pictures of real people, not the monuments or statue of the few and the accolades bestowed. to the selected..
From downtown, the original B.A,. we rode through the town of San Telmo, and we were told we must visit this part on a Sunday to experience the market and street tangos, so we need to come back. Then we were taken to the district or area of La Boca, the Mouth, a formerly swampy area that has always been the working stiff section of B.A. Houses were built with material that was at hand as the owners deemed fit. Electricity was only introduced as needed, so was plumbing. Yes, it is a bit wild looking as far as styles are concerned, yet according to locals is has tremendously improved over the last decades.
This area is home to the famous Soccer club /Club Athletico Boca Juniors/ (CABJ), in its famous Blue and Yellow colors, the colors of the Swedish flag. (The color is based on a Swedish ship in the harbor when the colors needed to be picked). Soccer is a very serious Sport in Argentina; people have been killed if the wrong team was promoted in the wrong neighborhood. So watch which team you route for, make sure you are not in the wrong bar or neighborhood. We are in La Boca, so… Viva la CABJ!
La Boca, a wild neighborhood, formerly seedy, now just a bit dangerous at night. So please leave the area before sun down or leave in a taxi. All the Guide books advise it. But also, please come and visit, we have something to show you, so what to do?
We visited, along with bus loads of people and all of us ‘tourists’ were feeding the local economy, it was frenzy for them, we were their meal tickets. We stepped off the yellow bus at the stop called Caminito.
Let the feeding begin. Even early in the day, around 10 AM, all the stores were open, the vendors in make shift tents had their wares displayed and life was in full swing. Pictures or figurines of Tango dancers were everywhere - Tango! Tango! Tango!
This dance was invented right here, right in the bars around us, right off the pier, right along this waterfront along with the rhythmic music and the unmistakable way to dance it. Amazingly, Tango is still a huge part of this area. In Vienna it might be the Viennese Waltz, but in Argentina, in Buenos Aires for sure, it is the Tango! Born in this seedy neighborhood, constrained by religious values, driven by hormones, it is a dance still evolving. It is the national dance of Argentina, no doubt.
Hold your lady near you, but not too close. No, do not look her in the eyes; you are too suave to admit you like her. But do not let go of her, either. Your left foot steps to the left and you pull her with you, but only until you bring your right foot one step in front of you. While you walk one more step toward her you turn only your upper body towards her. At the pause of the music you pull her in front of you, close this time, and let your upper body take a more natural position again. Yet you look to the left and give her a little rest, or fan her to your right side, show her off to others, from the left, from the right, Until you step once again forward with your left leg and then quickly to the right and wait and sway, waiting for the music to catch up,
just holding her, not too close. Now use your feet to slide between her legs, see what she can do to avoid it or how fast she can move her feet, too. How cold and reserved she can look yet, how close she pushes her body against you. Like a dance of birds, of storks perhaps, gaining good footing during a mating dance. Sensuously pulling, tugging, sliding, circling each other, helping to set the mood yet never admitting it is what each wants. These are movements of back and forth, of danced emotions. Hidden as they might be; shown for all to see but never bluntly stated. The elegance, the basic desires intertwined in the fancy foot work yet controlled with the rigidity of the upper body, the reserved look of the false disinterest.
Tango is Argentina, is Argentina like the Tango?
La Boca, the birthplace of it all, We danced in the streets, danced in the store, to the amusement of the people, of the locals, of the customers, but I did not care. I felt the Tango, I danced it!