Thousands line up for world tango finals

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The Independent Online

Thousands of people lined up under winter skies in Buenos Aires Monday for free tickets to watch the finals of a world tango competition underway in the Argentine capital.

The crowd five blocks long waited patiently as instructors gave free tango courses in the street for the 15,000 entries being distributed by city authorities for the August 31 final of the Mundial de Tango.

"It took hours to get two tickets, but it's worth it," Carlos, a middle-aged Argentine who queued with his sister, told AFP.

The passion with which tango is viewed in Buenos Aires was evidenced by some die-hard fans who spent the night in front of the ticket windows to ensure they got places.

Cecilia, a 16-year-old Argentine doing tango moves with her teacher in the street, said the obsession with the dance was well-deserved.

"It's a way of recognizing our culture. I love dancing tango. It's such a sensual dance, and anyone can do it," she said.

Declared part of humanity's intangible cultural heritage last year by UNESCO, tango has won a worldwide following.

Last year, a Japanese couple won the first place in the tango contest, breaking what had been a lock on the title by Argentines.

This year, 400 Argentine and foreign couples will be vying to get past the classification round and into the finals.