The ballroom dance that I should most like to have mastered is the tango. For me this dance conjures a mental picture, no doubt highly romanticized, of torrid nights on the docks of Buenos Aires, where once upon a time tough and intelligent men, immigrants and sons of immigrants, worked hard, and lived and died passionately. The tango conveys at once their joy and their despair, with the implication that those opposite passions are in dialectical relationship, and thus that human existence is inherently imperfectible. There is no reason why popular music should be merely brutal and stupid.

My favorite tango is “Cambalache” (“Bazaar”), composed in 1935, a deep growl of disgust at the modern world:

Que el mundo fue and sera una porqueria
Ya lo se …
Pero que el siglo veinte
Es un despliegue
De maldad insolente
Ya no...


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