Two women in Uruguay are challenging the old notion that "it takes two to tango" refers to dance partners of the opposite sex.
Uruguayan social media is abuzz following a Footloose-esque scandal involving two 20-somethings, Florencia Veiro and Lucia Conde, who were shooed out of an open-air tango dance by organizers who objected to the two women dancing together.
The controversy stunned some in Uruguay, a country widely viewed as one of the most progressive in Latin America.
"At first we thought it was joke," Veiro told Fusion in a phone interview. "My friend and I explained that we weren’t lesbians, we were simply dancing. And even if we were lesbians, what's the problem?"
The public dances, known as "milongas," are weekly gatherings held in plazas across Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo. But organizers balked at the sight of two women dancing hip-to-hip. "We don’t want any gays or lesbians here," one of the organizers barked, according to Veiro.
As the two women reluctantly left the plaza, someone reportedly grabbed a microphone and apologized to the crowd, calling the idea of a tango couple of two women “inadecuado,” or inappropriate.
Inappropriate was the visceral display of homophobia, Veiro says. So she took to social media in a flash of rage, firing off a sequence of tweets that quickly lit up Uruguay’s Twittersphere and triggering an outpouring of support.
“Something awful just happened to me.”
“While we refused to go, they kept threatening us, saying there were families and children in the plaza.”
“Many applauded the decision to kick us out of a public plaza, talking about ‘homos and lesbians. Disgusting.’”
As word spread, the hashtag #milongainadecuada (inappropriate tango) emerged. Then several people started an online campaign to return to the plaza this weekend in a show of support for the women and the gay community at large.
Veiro said the gathering isn’t intended to taunt the conservative elders, but promote a positive message of inclusivity.
"It’s to remind them that tango is music that doesn’t discriminate," she said. "Tango doesn’t distinguish sex, race, religion or political parties. Its beauty is that it brings people together."