Argentineantangois a global phenomenon. Since its origin among immigrants from the slums ofBuenos Aires and Montevideo, it has crossed and re-crossed many borders.Yet, never before has tango been danced by somany people and in so many different places as today. Argentinean tango is morethan a specific music and style of dancing. It is also a cultural imaginarywhich embodies intense passion, hyper-heterosexuality, and dangerous exoticism. In the wake of its latest revival, tango has become both a cultural symbol ofArgentinean national identity and a transnational cultural space in which a modest, yet growing number of dancers from differentparts of the globe meet on the dance floor. Through interviews and ethnographical research inAmsterdam and Buenos Aires, Kathy Davis shows why a dance from another era andanother place appeals to men and women from different parts of the world andwhat happens to them as they become caught up in the tango salon culture. Sheshows how they negotiate the ambivalences, contradictions, and hierarchies ofgender, sexuality, and global relations of power between North and South inwhich Argentinean tango is-and has always been-embroiled. Davisalso explores her uneasiness about her own passion for a dance which-when seen through the lens of contemporary criticalfeminist and postcolonial theories-seems, at best, odd, and, at worst,disreputable and even a bit shameful. She uses the disjuncture between theincorrect pleasures and complicated politics of dancing tango as a resource forexploring the workings of passion as experience, as performance, and ascultural discourse. She concludes thatdancing tango should be viewed less as a love/hate embrace with colonialovertones than a passionate encounter across many different borders betweendancers who share a desire for difference and a taste of the 'elsewhere.' DancingTango is a vivid, intriguing account of an important global culturalphenomenon.
Passionate Encounters in a Globalizing World