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!


Maraya Loza-Koxahn said...

Are you kidding me? There's no way tango is on its way out. It's on its way IN in a BIG way. The final 3 contestant couples on Dancing With The Stars this season ALL chose to do the Argentine Tango as their final dance and it was HOT, HOT, HOT! And, on So You Think You Can Dance one of the young contestants just performed an amazing Tango. This kind of exposure is going to give Tango a bigger and bigger presence in the general North American public and pretty soon everybody will be clamoring to get to BsAs so better start dancing closer together to make more room and watch out! (Thanks for mentioning Calgary!)

Elizabeth Brinton said...

Excuse me, but to Maraya: That stuff you saw on television is not tango, Argentine or otherwise. It does nothing to to expose anyone to tango. If these new tango afficianados go to BA expecting to see or do anything like what they saw on DWTS or SYTYCD, I would like to be there to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Followed your link to 'expatriate tango blogger' to see what the rational was for Tango is dying.
Read the various blogs and decided that maybe Tango was changing but definatly not dying.
However then looked at her other blogs and found out that she is teaching in USA this year. Then found a Video of her dancing. What will she be teaching??? it certainly cannot be posture or technique, why do people think that because they have been dancing for a few years that they can teach.
P.S. Tango in UK is booming more milongas opening by the week.
Love JB

Chris said...

> Dancing With The Stars

A sample of DWTS top-marked "Argentine Tango" here:

Karen y Doug Scofield said...

Buen Dias Cherie,( Ruben)

We had a perfect evening for our milonga weather was perfect, at dark we had to close the doors as the mosquitos moved in, but it worked.

We had eleven people and danced until midnight, we were happy the rain held off.
So yes in our little town here in Michigan Tango is not dead and not in B.A. either.
So those who say it's dead are not in the real world...

It's almost July so have a good month.
Karen (:

tangocherie said...

Thanks to one and all for your comments and your love of tango--no matter your point of view or where you are!

Chris said...

> why do people think that because they have been dancing for a few years that they can teach.

Often they are simply folowing in the footsteps of their teachers. It is remarkable how many of the big-name step peddlars took up teaching after just a couple of years of dancing.

Chris said...

> Followed your link to 'expatriate tango blogger' ...
> What will she be teaching???
> it certainly cannot be posture or technique

She could teach the technique of complaining about BsAs taxi prices :)

99 said...

Good post, Cherie, and wise observations.