(Argentina) Tango is “slowly” recovering in Argentina as tourists return

Tango is “slowly” recovering in Buenos Aires and is in “transition” with the reopening of venues and milongas in the post-pandemic covid-19, due to foreign tourism slowly returning to Argentina and an economic crisis reducing the influx of dancers.

In Buenos Aires, tango lovers can go to the traditional venues that offer a show with dinner, which are currently only open on weekends, and the so-called “milongas”, where people can take a class beforehand and watch a short demonstration, to join in the dancing after lunch and a drink, which are now open every day but with fewer people.

Despite the fact that the pandemic is languishing, activity is greater and the borders have been opened since November 2021, the tango houses are being affected by the uncertainty and the vicissitudes that tourists go through when travelling around the world, such as the result of a PCR preventing them from entering or leaving a country.

“The recovery is extremely slow,” Claudio Campos, owner of El Querandí, told Efe, in charge of the sub-committee of the Chamber of Cafés and Bars’ Tango Houses.

TANGO SHOWS

The tango houses are working at half the normal occupancy rate for this season, being occupied at 10 to 20% of the total when they should be working at 40%, according to Campos.

“Although this is a low season, it is more pronounced than usual,” Campos said.

Moreover, the tourists who have returned to Argentina are not the usual tango consumers: “The tourism we are seeing is regional and shopping tourism, rather than visiting tourism,” Campos explained. “It is very limited what we are receiving”, he added.

The tango houses have also not been able to “take advantage” of the great internal tourist movement because they are not included in the national government’s tourism promotion scheme.

Three issues held up by referendums in the Swiss referendum vote on 15 May.

“It’s much slower than the expectations we had,” Campos said after being closed for almost two years, from March 2020 to November 2021.

Nevertheless, Campos explained that the tango houses “have not closed” nor have they adjusted the artists on stage or the casts of musicians and dancers, but survive “by a lot of will to work”, with personal savings and by “the expectations that when the favourable season starts, from October, things will really change”.

To adapt to the new times, they offer the same show but fewer days: they open only on weekends instead of every day or close on Mondays in low season or only open “depending on the number of bookings”.

“The passenger is not left without seeing a tango show”, but there is “an explicit agreement between colleagues” to refer passengers to other tango houses, a “solidarity” that was not common before the pandemic.

HIPPIE” MILONGAS

The “milongas” have been open since September 2021, starting to work “a little at a time” and trying to overcome the stages of adaptation of people to embrace each other to dance even in times of contagion and with a mask.

But several milonga businesses could not hold out, have closed down for good – some 40 when there were more than 200, according to industry estimates – and have not been replaced.

“We have to look at it as a moment of transition to see how it is going to develop, especially in these months, with the loss of milongas,” Oscar García, treasurer of the Association of Milonga Organisers (AOM) and tango teacher, told Efe.

Those that remain are still open every day, but with fewer people: “The number of people is not enough to cover the number of milongas there are,” García said.

Author: Verónica Dalto. Swissinfo.ch