Over a century after its gestation in the slums of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the tango has become a global music in several interdependent ways. It is global in the most literal sense of geographic reach, flourishing in Buenos Aires and Tokyo, in Saigon and Durban, in small towns in Scandinavia and in the U.S. It has attained and maintained such a reach through its distinctive and enduring musical profile and, more importantly, through several kinds of semantic flexibility. The tango bears strong yet mutable links to place and culture; it is variously but vividly perceived as belonging to the Rio de la Plata culture of the Argentine and Uruguayan capitals, as the national music of Argentina, as more generically Latin, or just as pleasantly (or bizarrely) exotic, older dance music. It rewards the intense attention offered by aficionados in Buenos Aires, by a core of tango kichigai (tango fanatics) in Japan, and by serious devotees elsewhere, in addition to the passing notice of people exposed only to isolated dances in movies or at an ice-skating rink. For different populations, the tango is either a historical footnote, a healthful hobby, or a stunningly complex and all-consuming focus for emotional life.