After randomly attending a carnival practice in San Ignacio Mini, witnessing the craziness of Encarnacion’s sambodrome and spending time in the streets for the Llamadas of Montevideo we finally come to the end of our Carnival roadtrip with the Murgas of Buenos Aires.
Argentinian Carnival : The Murgas
After a late evening dancing tango with our friends in the vibrant capital of Argentina, we spotted some commotion in the streets. We stopped by the side of the road and got a random chance to witness Murgas playing in the street.
A “Murga” is a percussion-based rhythm that is usually played live in the streets. Contrary to the Uruguayan Cadombe, the Murga is sang and the lyrics usually criticise corrupt politicians. Historically it was used as a popular resistance to dictatorship. In fact murgas came to be due to governments banning the South American tradition of carnival. For this reason, murgas are very popular in Uruguay and Argentina. While the big carnivals are a show in some countries, it is viewed as a street performance in the others, which explains why we only have seen this in Argentina.
Dressed with a high-end hats and a bright and personalized “man-suit” the Murga dancers we watched were mainly very energetic young teenage girls. Behind them musicians and singers pumped out the music for all to dance. We were struck by their moves which involved acrobatic complex aerial movements. Pretty impressive. While all this was happening, kids ran freely spraying foam everywhere. The ground littered with the left over empty aerosol tins.
Note – it was later in Chile that we learnt that the reason Argentina and Chile do not have major carnivals like most Latin American countries dates back to the past dictatorships which basically outlawed them and that is why Murgas tend to criticise politicians.