No One Taught Me to Tango: Memories of Anglo-Argentina by Trevor Grove - review by Miranda Seymour

Miranda Seymour

Last Dance in Buenos Aires

No One Taught Me to Tango: Memories of Anglo-Argentina

By

Eyewear 167pp £20
 

The nearest I’ve come to Argentina is reading Far Away and Long Ago, a haunting and often surprisingly violent memoir (it was written in Bayswater when the author was an invalid during the First World War) by W H Hudson of his mid-19th-century childhood in a ranch house overlooking the River Plata and Argentina’s vast pampas. Trevor Grove, a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, offers a respectful nod to Hudson’s masterly writing, while taking a very different approach to this volatile, extraordinary country seven thousand miles away, for which he evidently feels limitless affection.

Grove was a toddler in 1946 when his parents moved from freezing Wales to sunny Buenos Aires, where his father, Ronnie, began working in management for a big Anglo-Argentine meat-packing firm. Back in the Perón years, the tango was forbidden fruit, too stimulating to be either played or performed. In the 1970s – that ‘black decade, when “to disappear” became a transitive verb’ – tango music, Grove informs us, was used by military torturers to drown their victims’ screams.

Grove himself was still a child when he left Argentina. He was nearly sixty years old when he took his first tango lesson, in a north London pub. Seemingly, he and his wife never looked back. (Descriptions of Mrs Grove’s elegant dancing shoes and the stimulating effect of

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