The Essence of Tango

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The History of Argentine Tango

The Argentine Tango is a dance loved by many. It has been around for many years and has cultivated cultures, societies, and history itself. The dance is filled with passion, intuition, and partnership.

The Start of the Argentine Tango

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The development of this famous dance started picking up speed during the uptick in immigration that Argentina underwent during the 1800s. Argentina became home to many immigrants from places like Africa, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, and England. The influx of cultures and identities created the passionate dance that we know today. Argentina began to shift into new traditions and ways of life. Various dance styles and mixes created the famous dance. For example, European-style dances like the polka and many African influences brought newer rhythms and instruments that would form the Argentine Tango. The creation that formed the Argentine Tango started to gain traction in the neighborhood of Buenos Aries, Argentina around the late 1880s. The style of dance was known as the “music of immigrants” during this time. The 1800s was home to the beginnings of what we know as the Argentine Tango. Its popularity would become the dance of choice during gatherings like conventillos which are large gatherings held in houses owned by several families. These large houses would have dance halls or open ground that would be a perfect setting for dancing. Most of these conventillos would take place in Buenos Aries. The hype around these large gatherings added more fuel to the rising popularity of the Argentine Tango. The dance would eventually be performed by actors on stages of theater houses which reflected its rising popularity. Once reaching the epicenter of Buenos Aires and many other Argentinian cities, the Argentine Tango became a household name. People of all classes engaged in the dance and an appreciation of traditional instruments like the bandoneon and ensemble bands for the tango became to the surface.

The Growth of the Argentine Tango Around the World

Due to the popular response of the Argentine Tango in the heart of Argentina, the dance would begin to spread around the world. Once the bandoneon arrived in Germany around the 1910s, the history of the Argentine Tango was changed forever. In 1910, the Argentine Tango would travel as far as New York and then even further to Paris in 1912. These cities are home to grand ballrooms in which the Argentine Tango flourished. The dance and wealthy Argentinians would travel to the modern cities where they would directly promote the dance style. Soon after it swept New York and Paris, the Argentine Tango would expand over North America and the entirety of Europe. However, the passionate dance was met with some backlash. This was also the height of the Victorian Era which welcomed dances like the waltz. The style of dance is different in comparison and many thought that the Argentine Tango was “too flirty” and “distasteful.” Many of these opinions fell to the wayside when high-class groups began appreciating the beautiful dance partially due to the famous dancers presenting the passionate dance on center stage.

Carlos Gardel & the Censorhip of Tango in Argentina

Carlos Gardel is a French-born Argentine songwriter and singer who is known for his contributions to the Argentine Tango. Gardel is known as one of the most influential interpreters for global popular music in the first half of the 20th century. His legacy is seen throughout the history of the Argentine Tango. Gardel is famously known as the “King of Tango” which speaks volumes to his contribution to the history of the dance. Around the 1930s, the government underwent many changes. Argentina faced military coups that would result in censorship of daily life including the celebration of the Argentine Tango. The authoritarian reign of President Peron would impact the Argentine Tango. The censorship would rest with lyrics in songs for the tango that encouraged populist ideals.

Astor Piazzola & the Golden Age of Tango

Astor Piazzolla was a famous Argentine Tango composer, bandoneon player, and arranger. Piazzolla would revolutionize the world of Argentine Tango into a new term called “nuevo tango.” This term would emphasize the incorporation of jazz styles as well as classical elements. Scholars deem the “Golden Age of Tango” rests between the years 1935 to 1952. This time period is up for debate among many people but the Golden Age roughly takes place during this time. Large bands in the United States began to perform which reflected in the orchestra tipicas that would perform Argentine Tango compositions. The Argentine Tango bands would consist of over a dozen musicians featuring a wide variety of instruments. The Golden Age of Tango symbolized the beauty of this dance and its history.

Tango Nuevo & Tango Revival

The term tango nuevo was first coined by Astor Piazzolla which would define his compositions that featured jazz and classical elements. This term speaks on how this dance style is continually influenced by society and the audience. Tango nuevo references everything that has happened with the tango since the 1980s and is not a question of style. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Argentine Tango experienced a resurgence. This rise is due to young dancers that began to pair steps of the tango to contemporary music among many other elements that would promote the passionate dance. Tours featuring dancers that would perform the Argentine Tango would become popular during this time as well.