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Even today, 67 years after he died in a plane crash, controversy surrounds the man who brought tango — that magnificently sad, bad and sexy music — from the banks of the River Plate to the world. Carlos Gardel started out singing for pesos on the poor streets of Buenos Aires and rose, via movies and gramophone records, to become the embodiment of romantic South American soul.
That much is agreed: he was the prototype curtain-chewing latin crooner. What was his real name? And is it possible, as some say, that he could have been the son of his own grandfather?
Is that the twiddly one on Come Dancing where the blokes wear toreador pants and the chicks keep scraping their sequins on the parquet? Well, yes, but the dance probably started out years ago as a sort of dirty waltzing for the girls and their waiting clients in brothels along the mighty Rio de la Plata.
Since then, of course, the dance has become much more sophisticated and romantic. But today's dancers still like to refer to tango's louche origins by a nostalgic dress code: slightly rumpled but sharp whistle-and-flute for him and something a little more raunchy — but subversively so — for her. There's been a big switch from the sequinned competition dance style to more original forms of the dance.
And the good news is you don't have to be in the willowy years of youth to be a credible exponent. You can be, like all the best performers, getting on a bit.