A Simple Story
The story of a dancer's attempt to win the biggest contest of his life
For four minutes and fifty-two seconds, the night became a thing that he pounded with his fist... This is a true story about a normal man. Every year, at the height of summer, the remote Argentinian village of Laborde holds the prestigious national malambo contest. Little known outside the Argentinian pampas, the malambo is a centuries-old gaucho dance, governed by the most rigid rules and shatteringly demanding. It is the object of obsession for thousands of young working-class men, who sacrifice their spare time, their bodies and what little money they have to try to win the title of Malambo Champion. And all this, knowing that winning the contest also means losing: a Malambo Champion may never compete again. In 2011, Leila Guerriero travelled to Laborde for what was supposed to be a brief investigation into this intriguing contest. But on the second night, one dancer's towering performance takes her breath away - he doesn't win, but Guerriero, irresistibly drawn, spends the next year following him in his preparations for the 2012 festival. The result is a piece of superlative New Journalism, in which Guerriero proves herself to be as sharp-eyed as Gay Talese, as lyrical as Norman Mailer.
Translated by Thomas Bunstead
Cover illustration by Leo Nickolls
Published 26 November 2015