It all had come down to a cultural war. A struggle for social positioning, and another exercise on the politics of exclusion. It was latte versus mate, rock and roll versus country. At first no one saw any harm in bringing a popular milonga to a halt to allow the espadrille wearing boys from the countryside to have a few foot stomping and hee hawing hoedowns to the tune of the chacarera, the rural counterpart to the cosmopolitan identity of the tango.
For visitors this was another example of the incomprehensible behavior of a world they didn’t understand but wanted to imitate very badly. Soon tango teachers added chacarera lessons to their bag of tricks. Following on the heels of a visit to the area by a teacher who taught chacarera workshops people were allowed to dance the folkloric music during breaks at the weekly practicas. Having chacarera breaks at the practica led
to some vigorous complaints from several people who belonged to the extreme tango sect known as the Cabezeos.
The head of the Cabezeos disliked the disruption of the practica to allow a very small number of people to do the dance and was quite adamant about it, explaining in a terse text message that it was not fair to those who come to practice Tango. As the conflict escalated into an all out survey, the Zapateos, as the rural dance aficionados became to be known, were mostly nonchalant and many added a “gloss” by way of comments that indicated that although it was fine with them if it continued, they were also OK if it did not. Some said they would like to see it done “once in awhile,” or only at milongas.
Seizing upon the non militant attitude of the Zapateos, the Cabezeos argued that allowing chacarera at practicas could set a precedent that would be difficult to break if, for example, another folk dance was brought in, and proponents of that dance then asked to add it to the practicas. The hodge podge of dances would turn the practicas into a ballroom social. What if people who want to dance chacarera start dancing tango steps to it? How that would impact the use of other “alternative” music?
The governing body of the Supreme Council caved in to the nasty complainers banning the Zapateos from converting the practice breaks into a foot stomping, finger snapping hoedown.