Igor Polk, January 29, 2007
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Everyone knows that prostitution phenomena made a huge impact on developing of Tango dance. Here is some facts about an organization which in part was responsible for flourishing of tango in Argentina: Zwi Migdal , the same thing happens right now in Middle East, and Far East, and all around the world. Here is today's article about it ( sorry, in Russian ). It is called "The last tango in Antalia".
In short it says that Turkish police freed 76 slave prostitutes from Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia, who were fraudulently involved in this by promising a good job abroad. 31 criminals were arrested during the operation. Between them several members of state bureaucracy and police. In 2006 a similar operation took place, 26 freed, 15 arrested.
International organizations say that there are at least 5000 sexual slaves in Turkey alone. Up to 50 000 women from Eastern Europe fall victims of sexual slavery every year! Once convinced to get a "good job" abroad, they are stripped of documents, forced to prostitution and are not paid any money. Among countries which have such "dens, pritons" alongside with less developed ones, there are also: Greece, Spain, Italy, China, Germany, Israel, and South-African Republic.
Slavery is the third money-making activity for criminals after narcotics and arms trade. (Needless to say that 20 years ago there were no slaves from Russia and Ukraine.)
I wonder, what new great dances we are going to have a century later?
Of course, all those organizations wouldn't be there if there were no customers. And who are the customers? Fallen men? Dance tango, and do not feed criminals.
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Of course, some might think that prostitution is a sissy and pinky and fun staff like it is portrayed in most media and all around.
To clarify what could go on, especially in a country with criminal situation and weak order ( like it was in Argentina in 19 century ) here is a terrible illustration from yet another Russian article ( in Russian ). Here is the summary: A gang of 8 criminals was arrested in a russian city. They kidnapped girls and forced them into prostitution. In a year of "service" they killed them! There 30 bodies have been found so far. Girls and women who resisted as well as those who tried to escape where raped and killed. That is about it. Do anyone needs more?
It is not the purpose of this article, but I can not not mention the contribution of Media into the current spread of prostitution. Europe ( and Russia ) is flooded with pictures of naked butts and tits. Why? TV shows are increasingly become indecent, shocking the thinking public with its stupidity and impudently promoting indecent way of life whitening all the negative sides of human civilization. Why?
The example is right here - the article mentioned above. They have not chosen mutilated bodies to illustrate the article. They have chosen beautiful legs. They call a 13-years girl - a lass. So far in russian "a lass" means a virgin woman, and a girl is a child. They call prostitutes - lass. By rules of russian language they have to be called at least "women". And the same - all around that publication. If you think there is nothing important in these little facts, you have to find a way to learn how media operates, what methods it uses to influence your "independent" opinion. There is a whole science behind it. These words are chosen on purpose.
Enough of that.
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Tango educators often romanticize this side of tango history. Probably after getting to know better what actually was involved there, they might want to reconsider their views.
Still...there is a room for romantism in the generally sad picture... One very respectable milonguero told me that the dancing relations in Buenos Aires bordellos where often not sexual. I'll try to describe it.
Imagine a young italian man, an immigrant, very alone, struggling in this new world, very far from his family, no money for anything fancy - only for a tango dance. He meets there on a dance floor a woman, deceived, very alone, surrounded by unpleasant people, forced to smile to them, brought here against her will, without any hope in her life. Both of them are from religious families ( 19 century! ) where human values are respected. ( People often forget that there was no any propaganda of sex, ads, sunbathing, and sports at that time and a naked women's ankle was considered frivolous. And at the same time kissing, bathing naked, and sleeping in the same bed, and man-man or woman-woman dancing would never rise any questions.)
So, imagine those young man, and a woman meet at the dance floor. The only place they can meet. They embrace like a brother and a sister, like a son and a mother, united in their suffering... and dance their tango.
That is more like it, ah?
By the way, dear tango historians, sorry for the strange question, if at one time in Buenos Aires there were 10 times more men than women, or something about it, and now it is equal like everywhere, where all these missing women came from?
How about a story of a young girl saved from the horrors of bordellos by a brave young lonely man? Did they meet at a dance floor dancing tango?
Tango was their savior! They met and secretly talked about their plans, until one day he said to her: "Today, the horses are ready.. Meet me at.." And then miraculously escaping from the knives of enraged pimps, they lived happily thereafter. Noone ever should know about this story. So, once in a while, they come to a tango place, embrace each other, and dance silently to the music of their youth surrounded by other couples...
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Contrary to popular believe bordellos probably played very little part in the development of the dance. The more I find about tango, the more this point of view prevails. However their influence might be significant. Several things though are worth mentioning. First is that to Europe tango probably was brought by prostitutes arriving from Buenos Aires to Marcel. But this point still needs convincing evidence. Another fact is that often, especially at the end of their existence in 30s the main activity of bordellos became dancing. Men paid money for the women-taxi dancers. Couples obliviously danced forgotten about the love for sale. Bordello buildings were rebuilt to accommodate more dancers: huge dancing floors appeared pushing away "cabinets". Tango was not a sin. It curried sanity.
What would they do most of the time, women in those bordellos? There is really nothing to do there but dancing. Music was always available, even the best musicians did not hesitate to play in those well-paying places. We know how tango is addictive. They danced all day long becoming real masters of the dance, both leading and following. Most men at that time as well as now would consider it inappropriate to sleep with a prostitute. Many would feel repulsive even talking to them! Dancing is another matter. Prostitutes became first dancing teachers and men came there to polish their dance-seductive skills to use them later at the appropriate dancing places. It is hard to believe that a man can become a great dancer practicing with other men like it is said usually.
Is it true what I write here about tango? What sources have I used? I do not know. No one! It is fiction. Nothing happened. There are no robbers, bordellos. There are no heroes. There are only 10 minutes of dance under heavenly music when a man meets a woman and establish a direct contact between souls. For the short time they are free from any troubles and a blessing surrounds them.
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Material about current situation, sorry, sometimes in foreign languages.