Tango originated in the second half of the nineteenth century in Argentina. Main influences are European culture and the couple embrace brought by European immigrants (Tango being only the third known couple embrace dance in history, after the Viennese Waltz and the Polka), and African music and dance.

Milonga (a dance closer to its African roots), precedes the Tango, as does the Canyuengue. Canyuengue (can-jen-ge), while describing a style of dance, also refers to an indefinable quality, like the Swing. It also had the meaning of lower class, referring to the working class people of the city and its outskirts (the term Orillero, also describing a dance style preceding Tango, comes from the word orilla, meaning outskirt). Canyengue evolved into Tango somewhere around the first decade of the twentieth century. Canyengue was danced to a Habanera rhythm, and its evolution into Tango was parallel with the evolution of the music. The Habanera rhythm can still be detected in Milonga music.

Tango then made its way to Europe via Argentineans who sailed there, and in 1912 it became all the rage in Paris. After it was adopted by the high society of Paris, it began to get the attention of the high society of Buenos Aires. An evolution of the music and dance followed, culminating in the Golden Era, starting somewhere in the mid-1930s and continuing till the mid-1950s. This era was followed by the “Dark Age” of Tango, and then the Tango Renaissance starting in 1983, coinciding with the fall of the military junta. This renaissance has continued to this day, and is expanding. Tango is now a sensation not only in the Americas, but almost all of Europe, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and most recently, the Middle East. (Turkey is an exception, Istanbul has been a major hub for Tango for many years now. You can dance Tango in Istanbul on any given night.) There are now Tango festivals in Jordan, Lebanon, and Dubai.

And the story continues....

Links: History-of-Tango

         Very Tango


Tango: The Art History of Love, by Robert Farris Thompson

Tango!, by Collier, Cooper, Azzi, and Martin

The Meaning of Tango, by Christine Denniston

The Tango in the United States, by Carlos Groppa

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