Tango Beats on Boston Streets / A Massachusetts Milonga

JUN 1, 2017

On a cold and rainy evening in the South End, hundreds of residents from Boston’s Villa Victoria community gathered in Plaza Betanus with both umbrellas and dancing shoes to listen to the band of A.R.T.’s run of Arrabal, Orquesta Bajofonderos. The tango-infused, electronic music pulsed through the streets as people of all different ages and backgrounds grabbed their partners to dance, laugh, and experience the rhythmic heartbeat of Arrabal.

At the start of the play, audiences are transported through time to the 1970s during the turbulent regime in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Protesters would secretly gather in Milongas, underground tango clubs, all around Argentina.

West Dedham Street turned into a Milonga of sorts, where Puerto Rican and Argentinian cultures melted together.  While the band began their sound check, a street musician playing the bongos began to play alongside them. The band quickly invited him to join the set for the entire event. This addition encouraged the members of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) to partake in the festivities. IBA empowers and engages individuals and families to improve their lives through high-quality affordable housing, education, and arts programs in the South End of Boston.

Since 1968, the inhabitants of Parcel 19, a subdistrict in Boston’s South End, have protested to stop the displacement of immigrants in this part of town. They organized themselves into the IBA to help improve and support their community through the activation of civil rights, social organization, affordable housing, and arts programs. The collaboration between IBA and A.R.T. successfully showcased the impact the arts, in this case a free concert, can have to bring community and culture together.

The Argentinian band was not accustomed to the weather, but they were fired up by, the vocal crowd cheering, Otro, otro, which in Spanish is the chant for an encore and translates to, “Another one, another one!”

After the wonderful response from this event, A.R.T.’s team and the members of Orquesta Bajofonderos are even more excited to share their talents with the Allston-Brighton community for the next Tango Night in Allston on June 5, with tango lessons beginning at 6PM.


Written by Education Intern Michelle LoRicco.

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