Edgardo Fernández Sesma at The QUEER TANGO SALON 2016

Edgardo Fernández Sesma
Edgardo Fernández Sesma

Excerpts from Edgardo Fernández Sesma’s talk at The QUEER TANGO SALON in Paris, 2016

Edgardo Fernández Sesma: Sobre el rechazo a las parejas que bailan tango queer, por parte de algunas milongas “tradicionales” de Buenos Aires (casos que antes mencioné), puedo decir que: “Desde mayo de este año, existe en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires… una Ley Antidiscriminatoria ejemplar que podría aplicarse al tratamiento de casos en que la milonga quisiera repetir situaciones como las hoy aquí mencionadas, con las lógicas consecuencias legales, económicas y de “mala prensa”. No obstante, no se ha conocido desde su sanción hace 4 meses ningún nuevo caso que posibilite estrenar la nueva ley…

Edgardo Fernández Sesma
Edgardo Fernández Sesma

“Since May this year [2016] the city of Buenos Aires has an Anti-discrimination Law… this law is an exemplar, which could be applied to how people are treated in milongas in situations as the one I just mentioned, and then lead to legal consequences as well as economic consequences and ‘bad press’. However, since this law was passed four months ago, no new cases have come up to apply the brand new law for the first time.

“…My second milestone dates back to 1997. In that year, the first experiences of queer tango took place, or better said what would be known as ‘queer tango’ internationally, which we also call ‘tango diverso’ and ‘tango libre’ locally. Augusto Balizano was the pioneer maestro at a pub in Buenos Aires named ‘Gasoil’ and at the ‘Contramano’ disco. The following year, 1998, Augusto Balizano created, with Nestor Talento’s enthusiastic support, the space called “Tango Classes for Muchachxs” (a gender-neutral neologism in Spanish which translates as youth). This continues to function at the Lugar Gay de Buenos Aires after 18 years. Therefore, we could say it’s the longest-functioning queer tango space in the world. Balizano was also the founder of the milonga La Marshall in 2002, so we are close to the fifteenth birthday as the first ‘free milonga’ in Buenos Aires …

“…In parallel to these spaces, which were almost exclusively dedicated to men, another pioneer maestra, Mariana Docampo, created spaces almost exclusively atended by women. From the year 2000, queer tango clases in different halls and a regularly-scheduled spaces starting in 2003 at the “Casa del Encuentro” (gathering home) which is an organization for lesbian feminists and which also hosted a few women’s milongas. Eventually, in 2005, in the San Telmo neighborhood Docampo created “Tango Queer” a named taken to open up a more inclusive space than the previous women-oriented cases. Both Augusto Balizano and Mariana Docampo, who used to teach classes in spaces with a crowd from only one gender, at a difficult time when society was less open than now, were able to créate new milonguero spaces, open, free, diverse, inclusive, and also successful. The crowning achievement is the annual ‘Buenos Aires International Queer Tango Festival’ which they host jointly since 2006.

“…Two queer milongas currently exist in Buenos Aires: “La Marshall” and “Tango Queer”. There is also the annual “International Queer Tango Festival”. Then, other spaces which do not promote themselves as queer are also welcoming, as their organizers understand the queer experience of tango life and queer dancers attend regularly. These are: “Domilonga”; “Bar Los Laureles”; “El Despelote Tango”; “Amapola”; “Sin Gomina” and la “Milonguita del Pañuelo Blanco” at the Plaza Dorrego square in San Telmo. In many other milongas throughout the city is also possible to tango freely, even if the queer presence is minimal, there are no disapproving looks from patrons or organizers… but, THERE IS some evidence of a reaction against queer tango in milongas where part of the crowd or organizers are hostile…

“…besides that the “Solidarity International Campaigns” already mentioned, with a group of ‘Queer tango dancers’ and allied ‘Contrapedal’ – Backpaddling-cyclists against discrimination which I belong to (led by Pablo Diego Pérez Echevarria), I would like to mention the campaigns that we have participated together regularly last years: to demand an antidiscrimination law in Argentina; to protest President Putin’s visit to the country and multiple protests in front of the Russian Embassy; several protests during the “Buenos Aires celebrates Russia” event; protests to the city for not enforcing the antidiscrimination law in city schools; and the National Memory Marches every year as well as the International Day Against Homophobia, the Buenos Aires Gay Parade, etc. We receive hundreds of messages each time with supporting comments asking us to continue with these campaigns. Almost every intervention can be found on the “EdgardoTucu” Youtube channel and they are also shared in social networks…

“In 2014 we held a third [tango] flashmob at the “Los Laureles Bar”, a historical site for tango, which was opened in 1893, in [the] Barracas neighborhood. This was made possible with the generous collaboration of Doris Bennan, the owner, and more than one hundred participants. So the event overflowed to nearby streets and this was the most widespread flashmob against homophobia.”