Notes on Tango (as) Queer (Commodity)

  • E. Savigliano E. Savigliano University of California


In this paper, I reflect on queer (non-heteronormative) interests in tango. Puzzled, I wonder why tango, an icon of hyper-heteronormative ‘love’, attracts dancers with queer sensibilities. In order to begin exploring answers, I look into tango as a commodity, composed of aesthetics and affects, which circulates as a fetish that can be consumed in globalisation unhinged from its socio-cultural moorings, gaining power precisely in its transgressive performance of same gender, counter-heteronormative ‘passion’. I will look into the queer milongas of Buenos Aires attending to local and foreign dancers, into the presence of same gender dancers in regular Buenos Aires milongas and the traditional milongueros/ as’ responses to male and female tango partnering; and into queer tango expectations shared at a conference in Berlin in 2008 and a queer tango festival in Buenos Aires in 2010. Questions throughout, and only begun to be addressed, include: How does capitalism tap into queerness and tango, and how does globalisation enable connecting for marketing and consumption purposes? How is tango marketed to queer culture? How does queer tango intervene in the formation of queer subjectivities at ‘home’ and abroad? And how does it affect local Argentine milonga culture?

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