I was interested as soon as I heard that there was a gay milonga,
but was unable to find any information about it. Fortunately, I met Giselle
who noticed that I was leading during class. She thought that I might be
interested in going to a Milonga where women are "allowed" to lead.
Scene: Wednesday evening at 11pm at the Milonga Gay on Yatay.
The organizers are Augusta Balizano, Roxana Gargano, and Edgardo Gargano.
How long have you hosted the Milonga Gay?
Augusta: In July, it will be 1 year.
Has it been a success?
Augusta: Yes, it has met our expectations. We are getting more people every Wednesday.
I had a really difficult time getting information about your milonga. Where do you advertise?
Augusta: We advertise in the gay guide, La Otra Guia, and in the tango guide, El Tangauta.
Do all three of you tango?
Augusta: Edgardo and I are dancers. Roxana, Edgardo's sister, is a beginner.
Why did you decide to host a gay milonga?
Augusta: I was teaching tango to the gay population and they said,
"we have a place to learn but not a place to dance." So we decided to provide a place for dancing too.
What is the ratio of men and women that attend the milonga?
Augusta: 30% are women and 70% are men. Most of the men are gay and most of the women are straight.
Why do straight women come here?
Augusta: I think it is because they enjoy the dancing and the men are not trying to seduce them.
Any negative reaction?
Augusta: If there is, we haven't heard about it. It isn't public.
Have you noticed a difference in how people react based on nationality? Is Buenos Aires more conservative?
Augusta: It depends. Yes, Buenos Aires is more conservative than Germany,
but Buenos Aires is considered the gay capital of South America. Last year, the government approved gay civil union.
Is the gay community in Buenos Aires very powerful?
Augusta: Yes, but sometimes I don't agree with them. For example,
the Gay Pride Celebration is more like a demonstration against the government.
I feel that if you want equality, you have to be less adversarial.
Some people say....Tango = 1 man + 1 woman. I hear it a lot especially since I lead.
I'm told that it's fine for me to lead at practicas but not at milongas. It isn't Tango.
No one has been able to explain to me that if it isn't Tango...what is it?
Tango is a popular expression...expression meaning something you like to do, and as a popular expression,,
there will be more straight people but there are also gay dancers.
There is an official story and an unofficial story about Tango.
The official story is that tango is between a man and a woman - the whole macho thing.
The unofficial story is about equality and where the tango came from.
Remember it was forbidden...and men were dancing with men. It is our belief that it was gay men dancing with gay men.
That's interesting. In Tango Bar (the Argentine movie), they show two Parisian women dancing together in the 20's - 30's
and they appear to be either lesbians or bisexuals. Do many lesbians dance tango?
Augusta: Historically, lesbians have been the singers and the gay men are the dancers.
They are the secrets of tango that everyone knows. There is an unofficial story about Gardel,
but he is the image of tango so it would be intolerable for many to think that he is gay.
Two women dancing together is considered aesthetic and is a fantasy for men,
but 2 men are not considered to be aesthetic.
Also, it is difficult because of Tango's macho past.
2 men dancing...is it still macho?
Augusta: 2 men are not necessarily feminine and masculine.
Some switch lead and follow while others prefer to dance one role.
Do you think there is a difference between men and women when you dance?
When I dance with a woman I like to lead. When I dance with a man I like to follow. My teacher, Claudia Bozzo,
taught me how to lead and follow because I wanted to teach and I needed to learn both.
My partner, Edgardo, likes to lead most of the time. When we improvise,
he leads but in choreography, we exchange the lead and follow.
Are there two women that perform together?
For our anniversary, We are trying to schedule two women to perform. They are straight.
Perhaps we will do a performance with 2 men and 2 women.
Do you have a tango dancer that you admire?
Augusta: Tita Merello is a diva for me. She died a couple of years ago.
I think she was like Ava Gardner. She had a famous affair with an actor, Louis Sandrini and when she was 80,
she disappeared from the public eye.
Where do you teach?
Augusta: Every Sunday from 5 - 9pm at Lugar Gay De Buenos Aires Defensa 1120.
At this moment Augusto was asked to dance and I saw some friends from the US. I spoke to the DJ about interviewing him the following week. The music is a great blend of traditional and non traditional. In fact, next week we are trading music. The men were fantastic dancers! And my friends told me that many professional dancers come here. The style is close or open embrace and grand. Everyone was very casual about asking each other to dance.
What can I say. I danced the night away and found myself doing some awesome dance moves. The milonga is in my top 3.