As beautiful as Buenos Aires may seem, it is a little hard to believe that it once served as a slave capital. African slaves were brought to Buenos Aires and with them, their distinctive rhythm. Today, the slaves may be gone but the beat of Murga still resounds through the air day and nite without end.
Murga consists a set of both musicians and dancers. Drawing from it's African roots, the instruments used in Murga are drums and percussionist type instruments. During neighbourhood events or cultural gatherings, Murga dancers come with a mission and a message. There is a very distinctive set that is played that lasts about 45 mins. The beauty and mystery of this dance is that depending on how it is done, along with the combination of the music, the dance can seem unrehearsed. It is and it isn't. Murga dancers do practice and rehearse very well and thus when it is performed in public, it looks polished & suave yet somehow spontaneous at the same time.
The barrio and the event that the Murga set is being done in greatly influences and affects the style of Murga, it's message and it's purpose. One can travel from one end of Buenos Aires and see an example of Murga and hop to another barrio and see another example of Murga and it would be worlds apart. A great example of this is the trailer of a documentary done by filmmaker Alison Murray about the Caprichosos of San Telmo. The style of Murga there reflects the barrio of San Telmo, it's history, culture, distinctive flavor as well as the message of that particular Murga to the people.
There are modern day uses for Murga as well. I shot a video of Murga being used to promote "Rock & Vida", a rock concert to promote the awareness of AIDS. You can view the video simply by clicking the title of this blogpost. It will take you straight to my video on YouTube. As you can see from both videos, the look and feel of Murga diversifies tremendously depending on the purpose it is being used for. But no matter what flavor it comes in, Murga always comes with a mission and a message....