Less than 24 hours in Buenos Aires, and Barack Obama is already doing the tango.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama were attending a state dinner in the Argentine capital Wednesday evening when they were pulled abruptly onto the dance floor on by a pair of tango dancers hired to provide the entertainment.
Back home Thursday morning, some political pundits questioned the imagery created by the president’s dancing when the impact of the terror attack in Belgium was still reverberating around the world.
At first, the woman in the shimmering gold dress seemed to content to twirl with her partner, but then she made a beeline for the president and beckoned him to the floor.
“No, no,” Obama’s face seemed to say, as he declined her invitation not once but multiple times. But the dancer wasn’t to be deterred.
She got her way, and Obama was soon sashaying across the floor. Flawless it was not, but the president eventually caught on. By the time the music slowed to a halt, the two were in lockstep, arms high in the air as an audience of hundreds looked on.
Mrs. Obama got in on the action, too, twisting back and forth with the black-clad male dancer.
The unexpected moment came at the end of a candlelit state dinner that Argentine President Mauricio Macri hosted for the Obamas. It has been nearly 20 years since a U.S. president has made a formal state visit to Argentina.
Elegant, slow-moving and sensuous, the tango has its roots in Argentina’s capital, which hosts annual tango festivals. One of the most popular flavors of ballroom dance, it quickly spread from Buenos Aires to other parts of Latin America and beyond.
Toasting his host, Obama quoted Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges: “And now, I think that in this country, we have a certain right to hope.”
Obama added a few reflections of his own.
“This is a new beginning,” he said.