This year was an important one for Carnaval in Argentina. In 1976, the Argentine military dictatorship, the same one responsible for the country’s devastating Dirty War during which thousands disappeared, eliminated the nationwide Monday and Tuesday Carnaval holidays. La Presidenta Cristina Kirchner re-instituted them as public holidays at the end of 2010 to take effect this year, so March 7 and 8 were days off. Party!
Below is a clip of the Palermo corso, complete with murga, that took place on March 7, 2011.
Now, to explain the related tensions and complicated side of the all the dancing, drumming, singing and celebrating, I bring in Elena Pinsky’s expertise once more.
While murga as an art exists as a form of popular expression, and of parody and celebration (à la most celebrations of Carnaval in the world), the reality of murga, as with so many other things, is that it is a vehicle for exploring other social and political tensions in the city. Because murga in Buenos Aires is not highly institutionalized the way it is in New Orleans or in Brazil (nor is it as popular, in the English sense of the word, among porteños), there are some interesting class implications about murga, best highlighted by the fact that murgas do not form in the [upper class] Recoleta or Puerto Madero [neighborhoods], though Palermo does have a few. The navigation of murgas in the city is rife with drama — groups that think that murgas should be organized by some entity and groups that don’t, and the relationship between the murga community and the government is tenuous.
Additional information and resources Elena recommends:
One group of organized murgas
City of Buenos Aires Carnaval site
Plus: The first TKGO Buenos Aires Carnaval post
-Karina, again with the contributions of Elena Pinsky. Additional thanks/credit to my friend’s novio, Maxi, and this Expanish blog post for the history.