Dancers bring down the ballroom at Tango World Cup 2018

World Today

ARGENTINA TANGO WORLD CUPTwo dancers compete at the 2018 Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (CGTN America)

In Argentina, hundreds of couples are in close contact at the Tango World Cup. They come from across the world, and tango in one of two styles: the more traditional ‘Salon’ and the flamboyant ‘Stage’ category.

CGTN’s Joel Richards has more.

Carlos Lin said he arrived in Argentina from China with his family when he was just two-years-old. Now in his 30s, he’s one of the presenters for the prestigious Tango World Cup in Buenos Aires.

“I broke the mold,” he explained. “Tango was very much from the river plate region, but it became more popular in 2009 when it was named parts of the world’s cultural heritage by UNESCO.”

This honor the worldwide audience for the dance, Lin said, but many people still needed convinced when it came to having a Chinese presenter.

With 40 venues, this year’s event features more than 500 dancers and 2,000 musicians, making it the largest tango festival to date.

In its 16th year, the festival is now a classic on the Buenos Aires cultural calendar. While the competition is largely dominated by dancers from Argentina and Uruguay, it’s increasingly international. This year, there are dancers from more than 40 countries taking part.

Marina Svartzman said the dance has retained its essence.

“Tango is still the same as when it started. There are no social classes, there is no difference in age,” according to the teacher and dancer. “The most important thing is that people get together and dance. You may not know the person’s name you are dancing with, you don’t know what they do… but the dance brings you together.”

Lin said the music is one of the attractions, but the lyrics to the songs being in Spanish means foreign dancers approach it differently.

“There is a sixth sense. To dance tango you have to feel your partner, so Chinese dancers began to understand the embrace, which is a break from the cultural norm with that physical contact, and then listen and feel the music,” Lin said. “Then it’s a question of trial, error and improving. We have seen Chinese, Japanese, Koreans moving up from the bottom places to the top 10.”

The reigning world tango champions are an Argentine-Japanese couple. The 2018 champions will be crowned next week.