It is well known that the situation in Argentina is changing every day, nothing new here. But of my many visits to Buenos Aires (7 so far), this is by far the most difficult time for all the milongas and tango community in general.
I am a completely non-political person, so I don’t really care which politics is currently ”in” and which is “out”. I just care about tango, and there are huge differences between my former visits to Argentina and this one.
When I was here for the first time, some 10 years ago, there were many milongas and all of them were full. And I mean full, so that you could hardly move. This time many milongas are almost empty, especially at the beginning of the week. Compared to last year, they say that at average there are 40-50% less people at milongas, which is a lot!
The prices in Argentina in general have risen enormously (up to 1.000 % for electricity, gas, water,…) which means that the average people have dramatically changed the number of their visits to milongas. The situation of milonga organizers is really difficult: on one hand, their expenses for electricity, gas, heating, etc. are many times higher. On the other hand, they have less visitors, even with admission prices to milongas on the same level as years before. So there is no wonder that this situation is really bad.
And this is not everything: lately there have been many closings or “clausuras” of different milongas. This means that all kinds of inspectors are visiting milongas and looking for any minor things that are not in compliance with all kinds of law. The state is basically closing the same salons where only months ago the same state organized a world tango championship… A strange world it is here.
Because of all of these reasons, the milonga organizers are trying to implement a law which would consider the milongas a cultural heritage and help them survive in these tough times. Because Argentina means tango, tango means milongas and without milongas Buenos Aires is really not the same.
On July 12th the most important milonga was held on the street in front of the Legislatura Portena, where people who love tango and milongas have gathered together to support the milongas. Just everybody important from the Buenos Aires tango scene was there and this was a really powerful event. And I consider myself very lucky to be here during this important times for milongas, in the middle of the action.
And something really interesting happened to me: there were many local Buenos Aires TV channels covering the event, and one of the journalists interviewed me in front of the camera, because I was interesting to her and her audience as a non-Argentinian, speaking Spanish and trying to defend their milongas.
So I became a TV star in the TV news, at least for about 20 seconds…