Almost 100 years had to pass for the dictionary to define tango as a “world-wide known Argentinian dance for two people who join in movement, based on a binary 2/4 beat”.
The exact origin of the word ‘Tango’ cannot be located entirely, and many modern historians believe that several events and words shaped the name of this dance. the word “tango” had acquired the standard meaning of the place where African slaves and free blacks gathered to dance by the time Argentina banned slavery in 1853. Some of the most popular theories are that tango signified some other style of music that was popular in 17th and 18th century Argentina and Uruguay, that was taken from Spanish language where tango dancing (early version) become popular in the 19th century.
Tango is one of the most influential and famous dances of the modern history, originating from the streets of 18th century Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay as the favorite dance of the European immigrants, former slaves, working and lower classes of people. Almost 100 years had to pass for the dictionary to define tango as a “world-wide known Argentinian dance for two people who join in movement, based on a binary 2/4 beat”.
A mixture of closed codes and having a particular language, the tango would germinate in the dancing houses, by the Riachuelo, the carters and horse caretaker’s shops and in the southern end conventillos. In those days, many of the immigrants would come along on their own and the few women that would come to Buenos Aires used to be in the academies or the dating houses.
In the 1880s, Buenos Aires would be revealed little by little in the academies and the theaters. In the comedies, zarzuelas and other plays, the actors began singing and dancing tango.
During the later part of the 1800s and early 1900s, Argentina was undergoing a massive immigration. In 1869, Buenos Aires had a population of 180,000. By 1914, its population was 1.5 million. The intermixing of African, Spanish, Italian, British, Polish, Russian and native-born Argentines resulted in a melting pot of cultures, and each borrowed dance and music from one another.
There are two types of tango dance practiced today -original Argentine tango, and Spanish Andalusia Tango (danced by single women) that reached Central America during the colonization period. The early versions of the dance are not recorded in history, and only the most popular type of dance managed to survive as Traditional Argentine Tango, which also continued to morph and change into other styles over the many years of modern tango’s history. The worldwide spread of the tango came in the early 1900s when wealthy sons of Argentine society families made their way to Paris and introduced the tango into a society eager for innovation and not entirely averse to the risqué nature of the dance or dancing with young, wealthy Latin men. The tango spread worldwide throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The dance appeared in movies and tango singers traveled the world. By the 1930s, the Golden Age of Argentina was beginning. The country became one of the ten richest nations in the world and music, poetry and culture flourished. The tango came to be a fundamental expression of Argentine culture, and the Golden Age lasted through the 1940s and 1950s.
Tango’s fortunes have always been tied to economic conditions and this was very true in the 1950s. During this time, as political repression developed, lyrics reflected political feelings until they started to be banned as subversive. The dance and its music went underground as large dance venues were closed and large gatherings in general were prohibited. The tango survived in smaller, unpublicized venues and in the hearts of the people.
The popularity of the Tango grew in the 1st decade of the 20th century, with over 1000 gramophone records and countless tango sheets being created in Buenos Aires alone.
Today it is believed that one of the first composers of Tango music was s Juan Pérez, who authored songs such as Dame la Lata (Give me my pay). Other popular early tango songs were El Tero and Andante a la Recoleta (Go away to Recoleta).
Music: The Argentine style music tends to be very melodic and romantic compared to what one would normally consider to be tango music. The primary instrument used is called a bandoneon, a German instrument similar to an accordion. In contrast to other styles of tango, the music almost never makes use of drums or has a heavy downbeat. Played in a 4/4 time signature, dancers are usually able to count the music in 8’s. The songs generally tend to be more romantic as well.
Someone said, “Tango would never be born without the influences of immigrants who arrived in Argentina in 18th and early 19th century”.