After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Death of Tango?
Periodically the doomsayers on the Tango-L and elsewhere on the internet love to bring up that in their opinion, the tango is on its way out in Buenos Aires, and some say, in the world. I don't know where they get this idea, because it seems to me that nowadays all around the world there is no pocket too small to have a tango community--from Vietnam, China, Egypt, Slovenia, to hamlets in Michigan and Maine, and Calgary, Canada.
Recently an expatriate tango blogger posted her opinion that the tango is dying in Argentina for economic reasons. While it's true that economically things are bad here, what else is new? Times were tougher ten years ago and the milongas were legendary.
I've lived here in BsAs for 7 years and the milongas I go to are just as packed with locals as ever--summer or winter, the Saturday afternoon Milonga de los Consagrados is always full of hundreds of dancers, mostly local, just a few foreign (photo above.) The other regular milonga we always go to is Nuevo Chique on Thursday afternoon, and if you don't get there by 7 you don't get a seat. The organizers of Nuevo Chique, Ruben y Marcela, recently opened a new milonga on Tuesdays at the same location in Casa Galicia, and it's doing just fine.
I also heard that last Monday in Gricel it was standing room only. Generally the Saturday afternoon milonga at Maipu 444, Cachirulu, is jammed and in fact the organizers are opening another one on Tuesday. I think at El Beso. Sueno Porteno in Boedo Tango on Wednesday. is a huge success and is always crowded.
Several new milongas have opened, while some older ones are losing attendees and are fading away. It's a fact, some are hanging on by a thread. That is the rise and fall of the business, the waxing and waning of the fickle public--like any other enterprise dependent on being popular or trendy to attract customers.
While it's true that inflation has made all prices shoot up, it was never true that ordinary working locals went to several milongas every night of the week. A few milongueros did and still do, but they usually don't have to pay admission. Normally people go to dance on the nights before their days off. When Ruben was young and dancing every night, he'd sleep a couple hours in his car before reporting for work at the TV station. But that nochero life doesn't appeal to him anymore and dancing 2-3 times a week is sufficient. However visiting tourists do dance every night, often at several milongas, because that's what they're here to do for 2 weeks or however long their vacation is. They pay the entradas and the organizers are happy to welcome them.
Don't worry. There is definitely no danger of the death of tango in BsAs any time soon!