Do the Argentines have it in their blood?

African Tribal Dance, Togo by themanwithsalthair, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License by  themanwithsalthair

–You have to realize, Simba, that there are great non-Argentine teachers, too! This argument came up in a heated debate, and while I agree in principle, the teachers she had in mind were mediocre at best, so it didn’t really change my opinion much. In an online debate along similar lines, I once noticed an attempt to ridicule the ones pointing out the Argentines’ comparative advantage in tango by comparing them to people holding the view that the ‘negroes had it in their blood’ (when talking about rhythm, obviously).

Easy to agree in principle, but is it supported by evidence? Anyone who has seen African dance performed by Africans alongside their Northern European caucasian imitators would be tempted to conclude otherwise. As in the case with the Argentines and tango, mind you.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying they actually have it in their blood, that it is something genetical. Still, there is a difference, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I think it is cultural. Getting cultural impulses since birth makes quite a difference. It is  tango by osmosis. Hearing the music, knowing the places, the language, the way they walk… It goes on and on. Seeing dancers in the milongas that actually know what they are doing, and being able to take lessons with great teachers regularly over time.

While in the U.S. I once witnessed a mother of African heritage and her son just a few years old. The son suddenly burst out into a spontaneous dance. The mother cheered with joy: –Yeah baby, do your dance!

So if not in their blood, possibly in their mother’s milk?

Which led me to think: Then, when will we see someone that grew up with tango fanatics outside of Argentina? Admittedly, it would still not be quite the same as growing up in Argentina, but growing up with tango parents would reduce the gap considerably, being exposed to music and dance from an early age.

The resurgence of tango started in the early eighties, and they would have needed some time to learn tango confidently themselves, so say babies born in the late eighties or early nineties… should be around twenty by now. It wouldn’t surprise me if a hot shot couple from the old world entered the scene soon.

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