The History of Tango
The history of tango is long and varied. To understand it we must go back to the beginning.
Between 1890 and 1910 there was a large influx of immigrants into Buenos Aires who were mainly from Spain and Italy but included Jews, Germans, Irish and Russians. They all brought with them their customs and traditions. Buenos Aires became a melting pot of all these cultures and it is from there that tango was born.
It started out as a form of music whose roots were in Cuban habanera, Andalusian tango, Italian canzonetta, and Polish music. All these forms were mixed and a unique style of music was born.
The first time the dance appeared was a form of challenge dance done only by men. The dance was used as a way to compete with the other guys and see who was not only the most dominant and powerful but the most creative and skilled as well.
In 1910, principally 1913 tango arrived to Paris where it became a sensation. The dance became stylized and refined.
In the 1920s this new form of dance made its way back to Buenos Aires where the upper and middle classes adopted it. A style called Tango Salon developed. The dance was elegant and streamlined.
The 1930s saw the birth of Tango Orillero, a fast and wildly creative form danced mainly by the lower classes. It was a playful, fun and exuberant dance style.
The 1940s and 1950s was what is referred to as The Golden Age of Tango. A large proportion of the residents of Buenos Aires danced and each neighborhood had a different style of dancing. One could tell who was from which neighborhood. There were 3 or 4 dance halls in every neighborhood and they were packed to the rafters.
There developed a style called Tango Fantasia which was an exhibition style dance used to show the skill of a dance couple. It involved little jumps off the floor, changes of dance embrace position and often changes of role within the couple. Tango reached the peak of its creativity with Tango Fantasia.
In the early 1960s there was a military junta in Argentina. It was made difficult for groups of people to meet after a certain time during the night so the dances had to go underground.
The 1970s saw the invention of tango for the stage which fused folklore dance, ballet and jazz with tango. It was performed in shows and on television.
In the 1980s the Broadway show Tango Argentino toured all around the world and a renewed interest began in tango as tourists flocked to Buenos Aires by the thousands to see this unique dance.
The 1990s was a time in which the young generation respected the traditional form even though it was performed in shows.
The 2000s saw the creation of a new style called “Nuevo Tango” or New Tango. Danced to electronic or non-Tango music it is the predominate style today that is danced mainly by younger dancers but by others as well.