Classic Tango

Health, Dance, and Thoughts

Argentina’s Tango – The History

The Tango dance has always been one of my favorite ballroom dance since it’s so different than all the other traditional dances found throughout the world, and as such, it’s a real challenge to understand it musically as well as the technical aspect of it of well. Below is an overview of the Tango dance as it has evolved in the past hundred years as it is so different from all the others, and a real challenge to master both musically and technically. Here is a brief history of the Tango over the last hundred odd years.

The story of Tango is said to have started with the gauchos of Argentina. Since the gaucho hadn’t bathed, the lady would dance near the crevice of the man’s right arm, holding her head back. The man then danced in a curving manner because the floor was small in size with round tables, so he had to dance in between and around them creating the dance we know and love today.

The word “tango” is said to come from one of two sources. One of the more popular rumors in recent years has been that it came from the Niger-Congo languages of Africa. Another story is that the word “tango”, which was already in common use in Andalusia to describe a style of music, flowed into many different styles of music in Argentina and Uruguay.

Strangely enough, it is said that the Tango’s History actually evolves from African slavery and musically used African Rhythms in the beginning. It is an erotic and intense dance and many believe that it launched in the slums of Buenos Aires as in the early 1890’s with the lower classes. Back then it was mainly known as “Baile Con Corte” which means “Dance with a rest.” After that it was mainly danced in Argentina, Haiti and Cuba. It was also danced in Spain in a different form.

Between 1904 and 1913 the Tango was first introduced in France and the dance took Paris by surprise as it rose in popularity. By the year 1912 it had crossed over the Channel to England.

By 1913, New York was hit by the Tango craze as well. What was previously known a dance for the lower and middle classes was fast becoming a favorite with the upper classes at the same time.

Between 1903 and 1910 over a third of the gramophone records released were Tango music and the sheet music was sold in vast quantities all over Europe.

During the Great Depression, however, the popularity of the Tango dance declined however it rose in appeal back again during Juan Peron’s presidency.

During the 1950’s the Tango started it’s decline again due to the economic recession and the banning of public gatherings.

During the 1980’s it was revived again with the Broadway Musicals Forever Tango, Tango Passion and Tango Agentino.

There are now three types of Tango, namely Argentine, International Style and American, and because of the long history of the dance, I do not believe that this dance will ever lose it’s appeal to all ages.