The source of the picture is: http://queertangobook.org
Despite of being fanatics of tango, this amazing dance still has something new to offer, a factor of surprise. We all know and chant the old slogan:
“The roles of man and woman become intensified through tango.”
Sure, but what happens when we go beyond the old dogma? What happens in the school of tango where gender doesn’t matter? Roles switch between men and women, even in same-sex partners. It is said that throughout the history of tango, men used to dance with men for a long time before being allowed to dance with women – partly because their knowledge and technique wasn’t sufficiently good and partly because there were so few women. Let’s watch a video from the past – two fantastic dancers, Antonio Todaro and Mingo Pugliese dancing together.
I have only recently learned about this movement when same-sex couples, men with men, women with women and “traditional” couples in non-traditional roles dance together:
It is called Queer Tango!
A professional tango blogger’s definition of the Queer tango movement from Buenos Aires:
“Queer Tango proposes the possibility for people that dance tango to freely choose the role they want to take up and what gender they prefer to dance with. To be able to perform this way, the teaching technique used is exchanging roles. This means for everyone to learn to lead and follow. Dancers have the power to choose to dance the role they prefer or to exchange roles, depending on the person they are dancing with and the moment they decide to do so.This technique allows exploring the dynamics in more equal relationships. Here, the symbolic power that lays on the leading role vanishes when either person can take up either role, indistinctly.” —Mariana Docampo, What is Tango Queer? (buenosairestangoqueer.blogspot.com)
Queer tango in Buenos Aires
I have seen such milongas in Buenos Aires, at La Marshall, although at that time it was called gay milonga. Thinking about it, queer tango appearing in Buenos Aires is a huge step for the capital of traditional tango! As I said, the first such milonga was the La Marshall, starting in 2002. During the years the venue changed and now La Marshall is held at the same venue but on a different day as the famous El Beso Milonga. I think it’s on Fridays, but best check their webpage.
The following video shows Ariadna Naveira and Fernando Sanchez at La Marshall
Queer tango on Wikipedia
Queer tango is already listed on Wikipedia, with an interesting quote as an introduction: “The tango is a duel for dominance. Partner against partner, man against woman, machismo leading female, using weapons and lures of sexuality.” (Gretchen Elizabeth Smith, The History of the Tango)
The above mentioned La Marshall milonga is also the center of the LGBT tango community in Buenos Aires. The wikipedia page explaining the meaning of LGBT (lebian, gay, bisexual and transgender) also holds the key to the origins behind the term ‘Queer’ tango. The following quote comes from Wikipedia (translated from the Hungarian page): The original meaning of the word queer is ‘strange, unusual, odd’ Nowadays it is used to any person who isn’t exclusively heterosexual therefore, in any way, differs from the traditional norm. In a broader sense queer is the correct and discrete definition of sexual minorities. It has become part of the relevant English and international academic literature. Some argue that the term queer is more adequate for expressing affinity both towards men and women.
Source: the Hungarian page for Queer theory
Before starting to overthink the topic and start fabricating theories, let’s focus on one thing:
Queer tango is open for anyone regardless of their sexual identity!
By its nature, queer tango is closely related to the LGBT communities, but doesn’t exclude anyone!
Queer tango festivals
I had no idea that there festivals are organized in queer-tango mindset! New York and Saint Petersburg, to name but two. Check this amazing video!
Exciting, isn’t it? I, personally, would love to attend such a festival. At La Marshall, cabeceo and mirada had a special importance. Normally men cabeceo and women give mirada. Here, things get more complicated as you have to recognize from the gaze whether the other person wants to be a leader or a follower. A quick overview of the traditional technique: cabeceo – the man firmly looks at the chosen woman; mirada – the woman keeps looking around until her gaze finds that of the man.
Queer tango classes
At our regular classes with Maria Glotz, we’ve had same-sex partners, but that’s different. At queer tango classes, everyone learns to lead and follow at the same time. That’s the mindset of it! :) Why is this topic so relevant? Because queer tango has arrived to Budapest! Our tango community is quite open, yet this new movement could help encourage those who are reluctant to go to milongas with their partners. Compliments to the teacher Fabricio Moroni! Their facebook group contains extra information on classes and on how to join.
—Let me finish with the following thought:
Tango re-explores and strengthens the traditional gender roles that seem to disappear from our modern societies; but it can also be a pioneer in breaking and overcoming traditional roles.
Do you want to share your opinion or experiences? We are eager to listen! Leave a comment or write us in our facebook group!