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Tango connoisseurs in Buenos Aires say times are tough


08-18-2014 00:31 BJT

The World Cup of Tango is taking place right now, in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The Tango Festival and World Championship brings dancers and dance fans from around the world, hoping to immerse themselves in the spiritual home of the Tango. But the stuttering Argentine economy is having a big impact on the people who make a living from the famous South American dance. 

La Boca, Buenos Aires, is where the tango was born. The area is one of the city's key tourist attractions.

A photo here will set you back around 3 dollars, that's 30 pesos. We were told off-camera by the owner of the stall, that four years ago photos sold for 5 pesos. Tourism is down, as inflation is up. 

Those working here in La Boca are protective. This look-alike to Argentine football star Diego Maradona won't let you point a lens unless you're paying.

Sebastian and Virginia are tango dancers on the corner of La Boca. From the 10 dollars a photo they charge, they take home just 25%.

They told us that tourism depends on the season. Even with the tango festival in full swing, there are fewer visitors here than in summer. And they said tourism is down year-round because of the economy.

It is difficult for those trying to earn a living from tango. For many teaching is the best option.

For many tourists this is an essential part of a visit to Buenos Aires. It's a tango class at La Viruta, one of the city's number one dance halls.

Gabriel Guzman is a teacher at La Viruta, holding classes almost every night of the week. He explains there is a special code, a style, that all dancers must pick up quickly.

"The code of the local portenios is hard to pick up at first, but also our culture. It is not so difficult for us to embrace, and have that proximity. Others from abroad maybe find that harder, that's why the embrace is difficult in the beginning." Gabriel Guzman, a tango instructor, said.

As well as teaching, Gabriel and his partner Romina moonlight as 'taxi dancers'. It's a small but growing business, to help newcomers enter the world of tango. Hired by the hour, a taxi dancer accompanies visitors to a local milonga, can explain the local 'code' of the tango, and guarantee a dance. For tourists, it is a personal guide to an exotic world. For locals, another way to earn a living with their feet. 

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