Although today considered one of the country’s most sophisticated cultural exports, tango was born at the end of the 19th century in the working class portside neighborhood of La Boca. An immigrant community of mostly struggling, single European men meant there was a dearth of women at the time.
Men danced with each other to practice for the day they might have the chance to seduce one of the few single ‘ladies of the night’ available. Because of tango’s early association with crime, the outlaw language of lunfardo and poverty, upper crust Argentines originally turned up their noses at the dance.
Once the sounds and moves of tango exploded in Europe in the early 20th century, wealthy and middle class Argentines co-opted the once underground sound and began composing more purified tangos, bringing the sexy dance into their ballrooms.
Since the 1990’s tango has experienced a new renaissance in Buenos Aires and worldwide. UNESCO included tango on their Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2009.
Throughout the festival there is a variety of open milongas allowing the public to dance to the live sounds of traditional tango orchestras, tangotronica DJ’s and tango-inspired fusión groups .