Meet ‘The Rolingas’, Argentina’s Obsessive Rolling Stones Subculture

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A love for a band so fervent, the fanbase becomes a subculture all in itself.

Not many bands have reached The Rolling Stones‘ stature, and even less have ignited a passion amongst fans to celebrate the band.

With over 50 years of albums, tours, and countless iconic moments, the band’s commitment to consistency has riled up music lovers across the globe. And the bond between musician and fan is most evident not in the band’s home country of England, but in South America.

Under a dictatorship regime, English music was not allowed in Argentina, so when The Rolling Stones slipped through the cracks, listeners took notice. The country’s own musicians loved the sound of The Rolling Stones so much that they started to replicate it. Ratones Paranoicos led the charge in the 1980s, starting the “rock rolinga” genre and birthing the fan group “rolinga”. In the sea of pop music and glam rock that dominated the charts, this “back to basics” approach to rock and roll captured audiences and took off.

The underground movement held steam, but it wasn’t until The Rolling Stones themselves first played Argentina in 1995 that things took off. A pitstop on the band’s Voodoo Lounge tour correlated with the rise of ‘Rolinga’ bands, such as Los Piojos, Viejas Locas, La 25, Los Gardelitos, Jóvenes Pordioseros, Los Guasones and Callejeros.

As much as the subgenre served as a homage, the proliferation of Rolinga shaped into its own entity. Bands started focusing lyrics on local issues, including class divides and Argentinean culture.

Rolinga’s influence started to wane as music tastes shifted. Tragedy struck the subculture when a mainstay venue, República Cromañón nightclub, caught fire during a Callejeros concert. 194 attendees died and over a thousand others were injured. With a central home to celebrate the shared love of this unique rock music, the leading members of the community moved on to other bands and projects. New safety regulations also made playing concerts very expensive for musicians. But hints of the scene can still be found in parts of the Bran Buenos Aires area.

Once a message in a bottle delivered through shuttered doors, the Rolling Stones’ signature rock sound now serves as a unifying common denominator to bring the people of Argentina, and Latin America, together.

Join us for a special FREE screening of Olé Olé Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America this Saturday at Union Station – Toronto, Canada! Screening starts at 7:30PM-9:30PM.

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