Buenos Aires and tango are synonymous terms, and tango
is an integral part of the large city. You can find the tango all over Buenos
Aires: in it's mythical cafes, at the milongas, and by walking around the
city's authentic neighborhoods.
The history of the Argentine Tango, from tango's humble beginnings to its
latest developments, is part of the grand history of Buenos Aires.
The Passion of the Underworld
Although it has come to epitomize the glamour and elegance of high society,
with women in sleek glittering evening gowns and men in tuxedos, the Argentine
Tango originated in society's underbelly, the brothels. As immigrants from
Europe, Africa, and ports unknown streamed into the outskirts of Buenos Aires
during the 1880's, many came toward the houses of ill repute. The tango dance
originated as an "acting out" of the relationship between the prostitute and
her pimp. In fact, the titles of the first tangos referred to characters in the
world of prostitution and were considered very obscene by society.
This form of the tango spread throughout the underworld for a number of years.
During that time the bandoneon, an accordion-like instrument, was introduced
into the music. The bandoneon came from Germany where it was used to play
religious music in churches that couldn't afford an organ. In Argentina,
Eduardo Arolas is credited as being the main early pioneer of the instrument
and having forever intertwined the fates of the bandoneon and the tango
artform. Eduardo said that the bandoneon was made to play the tango, with its
deep melancholy feeling that the immigrants enjoyed as a sentimental tingle in
their hard working lives.
Next Came Paris..
The next chapter in the history of the Argentine Tango was "written" by Ricardo
Guiraldes. Ricardo was a well-to-do poet and writer and an upper-class playboy
in Argentina. He enjoyed emulating the social lives of his more bohemian
friends, including going to these tango performances. In 1910, Ricardo went on
a tour of Europe. He wrote a poem called "Tango" to honour the dance, and gave
a tango performance at a fashionable Parisian salon. The crowd was deeply
attracted to the dance and Tango was the first of the many latin dance crazes
that were to sweep Europe. With the popularity of the Argentine Tango in
Europe, Argentine high society took a new look at the dance and welcomed it
into their own lives.
Introduction by Hollywood
The next great name in the development of tango is movie star Rudolph
Valentino. Hollywood moguls were able to connect the Argentine star's image to
the tango artform in the movie "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"(1926).
Valentino played a gaucho(Argentine Cowboy) and performed a tango dance wearing
wide trousers and leather chaps while holding a carnation in his mouth and a
whip in his hand. The scene is probably the greatest in the history of the
Argentine Tango, not for a second discounted by the fact that gauchos
never danced tango. Even future tango stars were forced to
perform dances dressed as gauchos for no other reason but the strength of that
scene and the image it created.
Gardel and Tango's Golden Age
Carlos Gardel was the star that became the greatest champion of the Argentine
Tango. His beautiful voice and macho looks made him Argentina's favorite sun
and the measuring stick for generations to come. The invention and wide use of
the radio, records and film helped spread his fame worldwide, and make this
time the Golden Age of Tango.
Gardel was tragically killed in an aircrash in Columbia. After his death the
artform split into two main movements that dominated the then packed concerts
and dance halls that tango has become. The traditionalist movement was led by
Filiberto, D'Arisen, Biggie and De Angel is, while the evolutionists were led
by De Caro, Dia Sari, Troilo and Pugliese. Bands grew and became more popular
until the end of the Golden Age in around 1950.
Piazzolla's Tango Nuevo
Astor Piazzolla became the next tango superstar. He had the vision of tango
"for the ear rather than the feet". He created numerous operas, concertos,
theater and film scores. Piazzolla paved the way for a new age of tango to
In 1920s, tango-rocker(tango rock) became popular by such albums as "Homage to
Gardel and Le Opera" by Lit to Nubia. The music replaced the standard
combination of violins and bass with a rock-style rhythm section including
electric guitars and synthesizers. Tango also mixed with jazz led by the Siglo
Traditional tango was maintained by the old guard led by the singer Roberto
'Polaco' Goyeneche and the pianist Osvaldo Pugliese.
Today, after the long stretch of "the second decadence of tango" (in the 60's
and 70's), young people have come around and have started to accept the tango
around them as being a part of them. The youth realize the tango in their own
ways, with their own unique character, mixing Piazzolla with the primitive
bands and with flute and guitar, deconstructing and restructuring it. Maybe
that is why tango is now again a phenomenon, this resurrection of tango may
make the artform more powerfull than ever. The beautiuful city of Buenos Aires
remains the world center of the movement.
The Evolution of Tango
The history of the Tango can be traced surprisingly enough to a
country dance of 17th Century England. The English country dance became the
Contredanse in France, and this in turn was called the Contradanza in Spain or
later simply Danza. When imported by the Spaniards into Cuba, it
became the Danzahabanera. During the Spanish American War, a popular
dance called the Habanera del Cafe appeared which was the prototype of the
The whole genealogy is presented in the following chronological table:
- Country Dance (England, 1650)
- Contredanse (France, 1700)
- Contradanza (Spain, 1750)
- Danza (Spain, 1800)
- Danza Habanera (Cuba, 1825)
- Habanera (Argentina, 1850)
- Habanera del Cafe (Argentina, 1900)
- Tango (Argentina, 1910)
1. Main Page
2. History of Tango
3. Styles of Argentine Tango
4. Tango Music
5. Links to Tango
6. Tango Video
7. Tango products
Buenos Aires Facts:
Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and its largest city
and port. It is located on the southern shore of the Río de la Plata, on the
southeastern coast of the South American continent, opposite Colonia del
Sacramento, Uruguay, at 34°40'S 58°24'W (-34.667, -58.40).
Strongly influenced by European culture, Buenos Aires is
sometimes referred to as the "Paris of the South" or "Paris of South
America". It is one of the most sophisticated cities in Latin America,
renowned for its architecture, night life, and cultural activities.
After the internal conflicts of the 19th century, Buenos
Aires was federalised and removed from Buenos Aires Province; its city limits
were enlarged to include the former towns of Belgrano and Flores - both are now
neighbourhoods in the city.
Argentines sometimes refer to the city as Capital Federal to
differentiate the city from the province of the same name. In the 1994
constitution, it was declared an autonomous city, hence its formal
denomination: Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.
Calle Callao Buenos Aires 1930
Starring: Miguel Ángel Solá, Cecilia Narova Director: Carlos Saura
Flamboyant. Colorful. Sensual. This is the seductive world of
the TANGO, stunningly brought to life by acclaimed director Carlos Saura
("Flamenco"), Grammy-winning composer Lalo Schifrin (TV's "Mission:
Impossible") and Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Set against
the backdrop of a director's passionate love affair with his art and the
beautiful young woman who captures his heart, Tango is "a mesmerizing
experience, a smoky lush blend of muted light and color, of intoxicating dance
and the richest tango music you could ever imagine.
The movie above is available on Amazon here.
Learn to dance authentic Argentine
Tango in 10 easy lessons with Fabián Salas - Argentine Tango dancer, teacher,
and choreographer from Buenos Aires, with over 15 years of professional
experience. Fabián has successfully taught Tango to thousands of students in
Argentina, Brazil, USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain,
France, Norway, and other countries. He has tutored numerous dance couples
towards success both on stage and competitions. Fabián has judged professional
tango competitions both in Argentina and the USA. Tango lovers around the world
acclaim him as a Master Teacher and performer extraordinaire.
You can find the movie above on Amazon here.