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Remedy for jet lag in the City of Tango


Photo copyright and credit: Sarah Twitchell             

I’m sure you have all been there before. Travelling brings the joy of jetlag which leaves you feeling like a washed out old rag during the day and an alert hyperactive child during the small wee hours of the morning. Usually it gets to 4.30am and you've been lying awake watching the clock for hours. Sleep evades you. Earlier in the day you arrived in Buenos Aires having flown through various time zones and your body is not sure if it is day or night and you can't remember if you have lost a day or arrived the same day you left. Jet lag is one of those things that hits you at the strangest of times – sometimes the minute you arrive, sometimes it hides out for four day until you think you’ve settled in.

Back to our scenario. What are you to do? If you had been bitten by the tango bug, this type of jet lag is easy to remedy - by now you would be at La Viruta along with several other hundred people since it is free after 3.30am and you would be dancing up a storm and waiting for the delicious smell that signals the arrival of the infamous medialunas and you would be quick to order several with a coffee. You would not be leaving La Viruta until 7am when the sun is peeking up over the skyline and the sleepy workers are making their way to their jobs while you and your sore feet are getting ready to hit the sack.

However, if you are not a dancer or unsure how to head out into the bustling nightlife and looking to get your first tango fix without leaving the comfort of your pyjamas, then you need to look no further than your television set.

Yes, amongst the hundred channels and amidst the endless House reruns, Friends marathons and the local news channels, there are several tango music channels bringing tango music straight into your little apartment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not only that, there is also a television channel, SoloTango, that airs classes to take you through the basics of tango, leaving you able to learn to dance tango not only in the comfort of your own home, but in the comfort of your pyjamas. It’s a good way to get a grip on what you will be taught in your first lessons. Around since 2011, the channel has dedicated itself to this famous artform, airing documentaries about tango and making sure that tango is able to reach as many people as possible.

It is people like those behind SoloTango that are insuring that the tango is not lost from this city once again.  Between 1955 and 1983, tango was pushed underground and military government tried their best to stamp it out by cunningly banning minors from nightclubs - a rule that was strictly adhered to at tango clubs but not at rock and roll clubs. Therefore, it was easier for a guy to meet a girl if he went to a rock and roll club, meaning the youth gave up learning tango and instead learnt rock and roll. This is still evident by watching the amount of older people that know how to rock and roll show their fantastic moves during the odd rock and roll tanda at a milonga. Having a television channel dedicated to tango ensures that everyone has access to this important part of Argentinean culture.

Another such attempt at keeping tango’s history alive is by a petition to save ‘El Tambito’. This late 1800s historic house is located in the Palermo, a stone’s throw away from the Japanese gardens. This abandoned character structure is now boarded up with mould growing on its white bricks and paint peeling from its wooden green chattels, but once housed talks about tango, milongas, classes and orchestra performances.  There were once three such centres in Buenos Aires but sadly El Tambito is the only one left standing.

They say that fresh air and sunlight is good for jetlag, so head out to the Japanese Gardens in Palermo after a night of tango on the telly and try to find El Tambito and discover the ghosts of tango past beneath the trees.


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