The term Queer Tango came into popular use around the turn of the millennium, although the particular role it plays as a branch of the sultry dance is nothing new at all. From the very early origins of tango, the masculine-feminine dynamic has been open to interpretation.
The dance itself flourished near the impoverished border between Argentina and Uruguay sometime in the 1880s. With influences of African, Spanish-Cuban and Argentinian cultures, it was a popular form of dance in the brothels and bars of the ports in Río de la Plata (River Plate).
As tango grew in popularity around the world, the dance gained notoriety as a dark and dangerous practice between a man and a woman. The myth evolved that the dance, particularly the defining genre of Argentine tango, was invented by male dancers in Buenos Aries.
Mariana Docampo, founder of Tango Queer in Buenos Aries, explains more about what modern tango aims to do. “Queer Tango is open to everyone. [A] meeting point to socialize, exchange, learn and practise… where the aim is to explore different kinds of communication between dancers.”
By using the term “queer,” it’s “danced without pre-established roles attached to the gender of the dancers. From that point, there are new possibilities for dancing,” says Docampo.
Tango is often perceived as a macho dance, with the male leading and the female following. But even in this sense, experts in the dance are expected to fully understand and even practise their partner’s role in order to perform the perfect tango. Queer Tango is essentially an open-role dance and is also open to people from outside the LGBTQ community.