It took more than a century but the controversial claim that tango was first danced between men has finally been proven and verified. It turned out to be that a few special men danced with men the dances that men and women danced openly around the city. While a hundred years ago, the men dancing with men were called “invertidos”, and the places where they danced with each other were seedy taverns along the riverfront, today they’re called “tango queers”, and they dance all over the city sponsored by the National Institute Against Discrimination (INADI), the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Culture of Buenos Aires.

In an old hall of the Apple of the Lights, Jorge and German are dancing a tango. On a beat up wood floor, Jorge leads with a strong and decided hug. Until a moment in which the chords of music suggest a giro and in the vortex of the turn, their forces are confused. With no visible change, German is now the one who marks the step of the pair.

This is the tango queer, a style that from Friday to Sunday evening will be danced in different points of the city of Buenos Aires within the context of the “Queer Tango Marathon”, an event supported by the National Institute Against Discrimination (INADI), the Ministry of Justice of the Nation and the Buenos Aires Ministry of Culture. “We did not call it tango gay, because that term implies a sexual condition. We prefer to say tango queer or free, and that means the enjoyment of dancing with each other regardless of individual choice”, explained Carola Ojeda, professor of dances and organizing of the seminary “Shall we dance in freedom?”

“As well as in a marathon where people run 42 km, our queer marathon lasts 42 hours” said dancer Jorge Casi.

“This way to dance is much more popular in Europe, but I believe that here, little by little, it’s being more accepted,” reflected Ingrid Saalfeld , a German who ten years ago founded a dance school on Hamburg, where the tango queer originated. Next to her, Kalé, a Welshman who lives in Tokyo, indicated: “In the dance I like to be lead, but the most beautiful thing about queer is to be able to change roles”.

In the seminary of “Jumps in tango”, the pairs doubt, they laugh and try it until they finally loosen up to doing the firuletes that embellish the dance. “Yes, to learn to dance it this way, without a defined role, is much more complex – says the tango queer professor Maximiliano Avila, but who claimed that to be free was something simple.”


Courtesy of

Posted March 28, 2010 by Alberto & Valorie in MYTHS & LEGENDS

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  1. Delightful!

    In the spirit of “can’t we all get along,” I am happy to see that “they” make their own places with their own codes. They have theirs and we have ours.


    • LOL, Walter, I thought of you as soon as I read this article. The exact thought was “Walter would have a heart attack over this”.Then I came to the end of the article and sww that there was one comment. From you.
      We can agree to disagree. But I wish they didn’t use the term “queer”, because there isn’t any sexual connection when I dance with other ladies, we do it because it’s fun and we can play around. My favorite male dance partners have always been the ones who play and have fun, it’s a shame more dancers don’t realize that dancing isn’t life or death. It should be fun. Even tango can be playful, which I think adds another dimension to an already wonderful dance. Stay well.

  2. As one of the participants in the queer tango marathon I can assure you that it is very much a place where we all get along, where the dance and having fun is what matters. I don’t mind the term queer as it in its original meaning means “unusual”. And it has traditionally been unusual to change roles and play with the dynamic you get from such playfulness.

    I personally don’t belong to either the group “we” or “they” as Walter refers to, and the fact that the marathon was organized in places where this unusual style otherwise is nonexistent and not in “their own place”, then I think this is exactly what is needed if we all are to get along…

    • Please don’t misunderstand, Tiqui.

      The “we” in my note refers to those of us who prefer to follow traditional codes of the tango, under which social dancing at milongas is between a man and a woman. Such events don’t require participants to identify their sexual preferences or any other private information.

      The “they” comprises any segment of the population (whether straight or gay) that prefers to follow a different or “unusual” set of protocols at their social events. They have a perfect right to do so, and it is commendable that they create their own venues for the purpose.

      By the way, Jeanne, most guys I know find dancing with women to be fun (not a matter of “life and death”). Our female partners seem to enjoy it too. Nonetheless, I might try out one of the Queer Marathons. I have a pet ewe who does creative firuletes (and likes to lead once in a while). Can I bring her?


  3. Then I understood perfectly, Walter, and that is why I don’t belong to either “we” or “they”, or I belong to both of them, if you will, at the same time.

    The queer tango marathon does not “require participants to identify their sexual preferences or any other private information” just as the traditional milonga events. The only difference that the queer tango proposes would be that both the traditional codes of tango and the “unusual” codes of tango be accepted in the same event. I don’t know how this is in your part of the world, but there is a need to express such difference in order for it to be accepted in the long run.

    What the queer tango marathon was all about was exactly what you asked for: That we all get along – at the same place at the same time, while dancing freely according to the preferences of every couple. I might prefer to only follow dancing with you, while changing the roles with someone else. I therefore find your difference between “we” and “them” to be misguiding and inappropriate for this particular event which was all about inclusion and freedom and not at all about neither sexual preferences nor separation.

    • Ok…Perhaps “here” and “there” would be more appropriate than “we” and “they,” where “here” is the venue of your choice on any particular occasion and “there” is the place you don’t go that day. If anyone is still unsure of the difference between “here” and “there,” I suggest checking with Kermit and Grover (

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