The milongas are at risk of extinction

Translation of today’s article by Andres Valenzuela for Pagina12

“They have already closed spaces where milongas worked and others are about to do so; the quintessential cultural event in our city is at risk of extinction and if this situation is not reversed, the damage will be irreversible, ”the A.O.M. (Association of Milongas Organizers) and Mi.Se.So (Association of Milongas with Social Sense). Both groups call “for reflection and dialogue to the corresponding officials to reach solutions.”

The situation in the sector is, as in other cultural spheres, dramatic. But with the addition that the milongas anticipated quarantine by several days (they suspended their activities on March 11) and that, with devastating realism, they understand that they will be “the last of the last” to reopen: that of dancing embraced and in close contact with strangers, sometimes with foreign tourists, sounds like a chimera today. Specifically, they regret the closure of three spaces and warn for the future of many others, and for their workers. The complexity of the situation is aggravated because many milongas operate in other people’s spaces and their continuity also depends on the articulation of measures for those spaces. They also claim this year’s BA Milonga grant, which “has not yet issued the Administrative Resolutions” and say that their request for extraordinary help was rejected by the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture led by Enrique Avogadro.

Furthermore, from the AOM they denounce that they were contacted by Festivals to join without payment “for lack of budget” for the online “celebration” of the Tango Festival. “If they who are the government, who can defend and protect culture, exploit it, what they do is bring job insecurity to an increasingly worse stage,” criticizes Julio Bassan, from the AOM. Valeria Buyatti, from the Milongas with Social Sense, points out that the extraordinary help could come precisely from the budget originally assigned to the Festival and the Tango World Cup, which should have been carried out by this time. “The budgets were already allocated since last year, they were not applied and they are not using that money for extraordinary aid,” he says.

So far La Aurora (Abasto), Estudio Mario Morales (San Telmo) and DNI Tango (Almagro) have closed. In the latter, for example, more than a dozen teachers and dancers worked and there were dozens of classes per week, in addition to a very popular afternoon practice on Saturdays. All three are from the AOM. Of MiSeSo, they say, none has yet closed, but there are “more than half a dozen spaces at specific risk, seeing how to negotiate rentals to continue when activities are reopened,” says Buyatti.

As for BA Milonga, it is a support program of the Buenos Aires government that has existed for three years and that was created after long demands from the sector, which included street milongas in front of the legislature with international media repercussions. This year there were two novelties: the expansion of the designated budget to 16 million pesos (which will not be definitively incorporated into the budget and which, the milongueros warn, did not acknowledge receipt of inflation either), and the advancement of its call, which excited to the organizers. But although the call closed at the beginning of May, there are still no results. “We are in August and the approved projects, the money or anything like that has not yet been determined,” denounces Buyatti. “In addition, the Advisory Council completed its task more than a month ago, so it is already a decision of the Ministry to approve or not the projects,” says the MiSeSo representative.

A few days after completing five months closed, from the associations the balance is dire. For Bassan, the paralysis in BA Milonga is “a shame”. “We closed when there were no protocols for anything anywhere and we continued without a protocol with which to work in different phases, something to incorporate some activities of the sector when changing phases,” he says.

“Larreta has already borrowed 150,000 million. They say that all the money goes to Health, but it is a lie. In the budget there is an item that we are reviewing with lawyers and that is called Artistic Disclosure — it is 1,856 million pesos. Tell me what artistic disclosure did. What percentage does tango have? It seems that we need help from Unesco, because here the Buenos Aires government neither helps us nor listens to us.”

8 Responses to “The milongas are at risk of extinction”

  1. tangogeoff Says:

    Thanks Janis.

  2. jantango Says:

    I would like to hear from my readers about the milonga situation in their country. Are outdoor milongas being organized? What are dancers doing to satisfy their desire for the embrace of tango?

  3. R. Bononno Says:

    Well, around here nothing at all is open. One large space has closed–the owner pulled up the dance floor and tore out the lockers. A couple of organizers have moved out of town. No one knows when the milongas will reopen again or when dancing will begin again. Someone tried to organize an outdoor milonga a couple of weeks ago but there was some pushback from the tango community, who thought it was too soon.

  4. jantango Says:

    Thanks, Robert, for letting us know there is basically nothing happening in New York City, which is the right decision for the health and safety of dancers.

  5. tangogeoff Says:

    Hi Janis, New Zealand has been free of community transmission for 100 days now and milongas have been running for about 8 weeks. I’ve been dancing for a month now in Wellington, the capital, and there are 3-4 milongas and 1 practica each week.
    We realise that we are very very lucky.

  6. jantango Says:

    Obviously, New Zealanders took COVID-19 seriously and acted accordingly. Congratulations and happy dancing!

  7. Fanya Kaplan Says:

    Some milongas and lessons are open in Miami, Prague, Budapest and Moscow by late May 2021. I am confident it will come back.

  8. jantango Says:

    Unfortunately, the milongas in Buenos Aires aren’t returning soon enough. Dancers are desperate for hugs.

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