Ray Batchelor and Jon Mulholland Will Present The Paper ‘Queer Tango – Bent History?’ At a London Dance Symposium

Muse of Modernity? Remembering, Mediating and Modernising Popular Dance
Saturday April 16, 2016
Torrington Room, Senate House, University of London, London, UK

This symposium seeks to address the mediated memories of popular dance practices. From the colonial circulation of dance prints to YouTube, popular dances have been ‘captured’ in mediated forms. As texts, artworks, films and digital files, popular dance forms gain a mobility, exchangeability and material persistence that alter their relationships to discourses of modernity, capitalism and history.

This event is free, but booking is required.
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The Queer Tango Project is delighted to highlight the following of the symposium’s panels:

Panel 1: Dancing memory images
Chair: Claire Jones (Dept of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies, University of Birmingham)
John Cooper (Dept of the History of Art, Yale University)
The dancing image in India, England, and the Caribbean: 1770 – 1870
Ray Batchelor (Dept of Creative and Visual Communications, Buckinghamshire New University) and Jon Mulholland (Dept of Criminology and Sociology, Middlesex University)
Queer Tango – Bent History? The Late Modern Uses and Abuses of Historical Imagery Showing Men Dancing Tango with Each Other
Ilaria Puri Purini (Contemporary Art Society, London)
Modernist Muse? Gret Palucca: jazz, shimmy and golliwog in the Bauhaus

The Abstract of Ray Bachelor and Jon Mulholland’s paper:

Queer Tango – Bent History? The Late-Modern Uses and Abuses of Historical Imagery Showing Men Dancing Tango with Each Other
Ascend the winding stair to LugarGay, an LGBT Community Centre in Buenos Aires and Queer Tango venue, and you pass a reproduction of an old photograph of men, wearing aprons, in a market, posing in tango couples. Elsewhere in Buenos Aires, a cropped version in a glass case at the National Museum of Dance & Hall of Fame is labelled ‘Baile popular en el Abasto (c. 1910)’. Yet another photograph of men in a street, some standing, some posing in couples, with a seated bandoneon player, this is a still more well-known example of this genre: historical images of men dancing (or ‘practising’?) tango with each other. Marked, especially since the ‘Tango Renaissance’, as documenting important dimensions of tango’s de facto history, their meanings remain contested.

Drawing on a methodology of visual ethnography, this paper examines how historical photographic and non-photographic representations of male same-sex tango dancing are deployed in contemporary, late-modern contexts. Specifically, it will examine the manner in which these are used in both ‘mainstream’ and ‘queer’ tango-related web and publicity contexts to variably confirm or contest an ‘official history of tango’. Employing a Foucauldian framing that seeks to understand not only the manner in which the histories of subaltern constituencies become subjugated, but also become a resource for resistance and struggle, we will show that in the hands of a social media-driven international Queer Tango community, such historical representations of men dancing tango form an emergent queer iconography that seeks to reclaim and re-visualise a marginalised past in the name of an ascendant queer contemporary.

Salessi, Jorge, translated by Celeste Fraser Delgardo (1997), ‘Medics, Crooks, and Tango Queens’: The National Appropriation of a Gay Tango’ in Delgado, Celeste Fraser, and Muñoz, José Esteban (eds.) Everynight Life: Culture and Dance in Latin/o America, Durham and London: Duke University Press

Saikin, Magali (2004) Tango und Gender: Identitäten und Gschelchtsrollen im Argentinishen Tango, Stuttgart: Abrazos Books

Havmoeller, Birthe, Batchelor, Ray and Aramo, Olaya (eds) (2015) The Queer Tango Book: Ideas, Images and Inspiration in the 21st Century, eBook, The Queer Tango Project

Pink, S. (2006) Doing Visual Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research, London, Sage,

Foucault, M. (1990) The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, London, Penguin