ONE tango is exhilarating, two tangos cannot be missed. But non-stop tango on stage for an entire evening might seem a little excessive - at least until the six dancers from Tango Para Dos begin their passionate, extravagant show entitled Perfumes de Tango. This piece, scheduled for four performances at the Arts Festival, is not just a sequence of dances - it is high drama. The programme is a tribute to one of the greatest tango singers - Carlos Gardel. Gardel was an Argentinian in temperament and lifestyle, but he was born in Toulouse, France, in 1890, the son of an unmarried French laundress. When he was three, his mother took him to live in Buenos Aires, in a slum area called Abasto. Argentina was then newly colonised by poor immigrants just off the boat from Europe, dreaming of making their fortunes. Men often came out to South America without their families and prostitutes were in demand. It is said that the tango originated from the power-play between pimps, prostitutes and clients - with its tight embraces, its feeling of danger and violence and the way the man flicks his feet between the woman's legs. The young Gardel grew up as the tango developed around the brothels. For many years, the dance - which is the opposite of modest - was taboo in polite society. Later, it became popular throughout Europe and the US but not before it had been banned in Germany and condemned by the Vatican. As well as its detractors, the dance had many prominent supporters. George Bernard Shaw once commented that 'the tango is the only modern social dance that is worth dancing', and, in 1921, Rudolf Valentino gained huge acclaim for his tango during the ballet The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Gardel performed his first tango song when he was 27 and he quickly gained a reputation as Argentina's national singer. Later, in Paris, he was one of the earliest talking picture stars and followed a movie career that took him across Europe and the US. Then, during a tour of Central America in 1935, his promising career - and life - were cut short when his aircraft crashed into a hillside in Colombia. His long-time friend and guitar accompanist, Alfredo Le Pera, died with him. Perfumes de Tango begins with the sound of a siren in the early morning fog as a passenger ship arrives in Buenos Aires. Young men are dancing with each other (women, especially tangoing women, were scarce in Buenos Aires at the time) and a pimp and two prostitutes are hanging around a street corner. Carlos Gardel and his mother are arriving in Argentina and the rest is tango history. Tango Para Dos will perform Perfumes de Tango at City Hall between March 2 and 4. Tickets are priced from $80 to $320 (concessions $32 and $60).