"Milonguitas" En Buenos Aires (1910-1940): Tango, Ascenso Social Y Tuberculosis

Alternate Title

"Milonguitas" in Buenos Aires (1910-40): tango, social ascent, and tuberculosis

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

História, Ciências, Saúde-Manguinhos


During the first three decades of the 20th century, in the fervor of urban change that transformed Buenos Aires into a metropolis, poetry, cinema, theater, and the lyrics of the tango repeatedly portrayed the path of muchachas de barrio who, by taking to nightlife and the downtown cabarets, placed their stakes on a society where social ascent — limited yet real — was part of the urban experience. For the most part written by men, the lyrics speak of these journeys in a tone of censure, and tuberculosis is cast as a form of punishment for these young women who dared to question their place in the domestic world and the world of the barrio. The tango thus offers its audience not only a highly moralizing account but also paints an image of an illness that seems unique to women although it in fact affected male and female alike.