Today, an increasing number of people from all over the world travel to Buenos Aires to dance tango. To accommodate these intimate voyagers, tourist agencies offer travel packages, including classes in tango instruction, dance shoe shopping, and special city maps pointing out the tango clubs in town. Some of these agencies even provide “taxi dancers” — mainly Argentine men, who make a living by selling themselves as dance escorts to foreign women on a short term stay. Based on a cheek-to-cheek ethnography of intimate life in the tango clubs of Buenos Aires, this book provides a passionate exploration of tango — its sentiments and symbolic orders — as well as a critical investigation of the effects of globalization on intimate economies. Throughout the chapters, the author assesses how, in an explosive economic and political context, people’s emotional lives intermingle with a tourism industry that has formed at the intersection of close embrace dances and dollars. Bringing economies of intimacy centre stage, the book describes how a global condition is lived bodily, emotionally and politically, and offers a rich, provocative contribution to theorizing today’s global flows of people, money, and fragile dreams. As the narrative charts a course across a sea of intense, immediate emotional sensations, taken-for-granted ideas about sex, romance and power twist and turn like the steps of the tango.
Table of Contents
Part I: Introduction 1. Intimate Voyages in Global Times Part II: Values in Argentine Tango Dancing 2. The Production of Belief 3. An Intimate Dance Economy 4. Voyages Out of the Ordinary 5. Trading Tango Part III: Negotiating Tango Tourism 6. Tourists and Other Tourists 7. Commercialized Tango Intimacy 8. Sex, Romance and Tango 9. Dancing Geographies Part IV: Conclusion 10. Tango Tourism: Between Market Adaption and Cultural Resistance. Appendix: Notes from a Dancing Researcher.
Maria Törnqvist is a sociologist conducting ethnographic research on tango dancing. She has also published on Swedish gender equality politics and has written a prize-winning teaching book in feminist theory (with Katharina Tollin). For the 2006 academic year she was a visiting scholar at the Sociology department at UC Berkeley. She is currently a lecturer at the Department of Education, Uppsala University.