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Grassroots tango on the corners of the barrios - Independent Tango Festivals


There have always been rumours that you can find people dancing on the street in the suburbs of Buenos Aires - that tango runs so deeply in the veins of the porteños that they just can´t help themselves. While I am yet to find two people dancing at a bus stop (although have seen ladies practicing low boleos/kicks before at 5.30am in the morning after a milonga), dancing on the street does indeed happen and usually is encompassed in a local tango festival. 

You may be familiar with the World Championships and Tango Festival that occurs annually around August here in Buenos Aires. It´s the most important tango event of the year. But scattered across the year are smaller locally organised independent festivals including Urchasdonia which is cementing a place on the tango calender every November. 

Urchasdonia is your true barrio festival. Organised by a group of tango lovers from the neighbourhoods, Urchasdonia encompasses the neighbourhoods Parque Chass, Urquiza, Villa Pueyrredon and Agronomia. These are not unknown neighbourhoods to true barrio tango. Milongas such as Sunderland, Milonga del Moran and Sin Rumbo  are famously located in these suburbs and are known to both local and international tangueros. The cafe, El Faro is like a tango beacon right in the middle of the area and is well known for supporting tango, having hosted many performances by tango singers and musicians. The infamous Alberto Podesta performed there to a packed audience that spilled out of the tiny bar onto the street in order to hear the last voice of the golden age of tango. It has been holding its place against the ever changing face of the neighbourhood since 1931. 

This was the 2nd year of the festival Urchasdonia and while only 4 days long, it included some wonderful performances. A highlight was the theatre performance of both song and dance at Centro Cultural 25 de Mayo. But it wasn´t only for adults to head out and enjoy, it also took to the streets with a mural painting and a specific tango music performance for children. 

While only a small little group of no more than 12 children aged from 2 months to 10 years old gathered, it was big hearts that brought together these tiny lovers of tango. The opportunity to listen to live musicians playing tangos adapted for little ears in a park was too good to pass up. The usually rambunctious little porteños sat transfixed while a short set was played by the musicians Dipi Kvitko, Damián Rovner and local singer Hernán Cucuza Castiello. 

Like with many types of music, tango music can be seen to be too complicated for children appreciate. But the truth is, music is music to children and dance is dance, so the opportunity to be exposed to these from early on is an opportunity to develop an ear for new rhythms, instruments and form of expression. 

So if you are looking for a way to experience more tango in a different way, keep an eye out for these festivals as it is a great way to support the beating heart of tango in this city. 



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