Couples sway and glide over the worn wooden dance floor. Their faces are solemn and almost tragic looking, close to each other they are feeling the tango. It’s past midnight in San Miguel, a neighborhood in Buenos Aires and the old dancehall is just starting to fill with men and women who have come alone or with partners to join the Milonga – a long night of dancing. The music will play until the last dancer leaves, and that can easily be 4 or 5 in the morning. The tango is a cliché that we associate with Argentina, replicated and performed for tourists in extravagant, expensive shows. But the real Milongas still exist throughout the city. You can find taxi drivers and doctors dancing side by side and cheek to cheek.
Mariana Docampo is a tango dancer by profession. She hosts the Tango Queer Milonga in San Miguel every Tuesday night. It’s a night for couples who dance traditional tango without the traditional roles assigned to men and women. Women dance with women, men with men, women with men; any combination goes as long as one partner can lead. Argentina is considered one of the most liberal Latin American countries for LGBT rights. In 2010 Argentina legalised gay marriage and granted full adoption rights to same sex couples. Mariana Docampo’s Tango Queer Milonga is part of this vibrant and open LGBT movement in Argentina.
Words and film by Jeanny Gering
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