Argentine Tango School

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Buenos Aires at night

Tango in Buenos Aires

Blas Catrenau, great Maestro milongueroBy Alvaro Dominguez

I began learning to dance Tango about three and a half years ago.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and when I started I had no idea how large the Tango community here was, and was impressed by the number of classes, teachers and events.

Recently I learned that the Bay Area Tango community is the oldest and perhaps the largest in the US.

Despite the mass and history of the Tango community in Bay Area I heard repeatedly that “the experience of dancing Tango in Buenos Aires is amazing”.

I left the Rio de la Plata almost four decades ago, without ever going to a Milonga on either side of the river; and thus, needless to say, I was skeptic about the greatness of the Tango seen in Buenos Aires; a cultural trait I guess.

About two years into my Tango experience I met Marcelo Solis.

I had many conversations with Marcelo about Tango, the music, its history, anecdotes, and tales he shared about the Tango community in Buenos Aires and the Milongas.

Through these conversations I learned that Marcelo’s love for Tango is indisputable and contagious, and I confess that they began to spark my curiosity and interest.

However, my sense of scarcity, financially and in my dancing abilities, was big enough to prevent me from even dreaming on going to Buenos Aires to dance Tango.  Nevertheless, an opportunity to go on Marcelo’s Tango Tour to Buenos Aires materialized last November.  I took it.

Buenos Aires Tango

It is undeniable that in Argentina Tango is a well-developed and sophisticated industry, particularly in Buenos Aires; and not only in La Boca, a neighborhood where some say Tango was born; even though its well established that Tango originated on both sides of the Rio de la Plata sometime during the second half of the nineteenth century.

I am not a stranger to Buenos Aires, its people or its culture; in fact I have friends and family there.

Though I had never been to a milonga in Buenos Aires I went without preconceived ideas on the Tango Tour, other than I’m going to have the time of my life.  I wasn’t disappointed.

During the Tour I got to meet, dance, and hang out with some of the best known milongueros in Buenos Aires, such as Alicia Pons, Blas Catrenau, Enriqueta Kleinman, Marta Famá, Monica Paz and Néstor La Vitola, among others.

I learnt a lot; from their instruction, from watching them dance, and from their tales and appreciation for Tango that each shared with us.

Friday was our first night at Buenos Aires, and the first milonga we went to with the Tango Tour was at Confiteria La Ideal, a Buenos Aires icon in operation since 1912.  We arrived at around 7.00 pm.  I believe that secretly the group experienced a sense of anxiety, with each of us thinking “How will my dance skills measure in the Mecca of Tango?”

La Ideal is located in the Centro de Buenos Aires area; it has sumptuous high ceilings supported by columns and a décor that takes you back to the beginning of the past century.

We were greeted at the door by the host and promptly escorted to a set of tables arranged next to the Bar for our group.  Our table was at a vantage point from where we could see the complete dance floor, and after ordering a drink I took a deep breath and began contemplating my surroundings.

Who was there?  How are they dancing?  Who would I like to dance with?

The Friday crowd at La Ideal is a mixture of locals and tourists.

Although it’s not the most renowned milonga all the patrons observe the milonga codes.

Everyone there was appropriately dressed and groomed, nothing fancy.

People sat at their tables socializing with their party while attentively looking for a potential dance partner.

From the distance and from afar people would exchange head-nods (cabeceo) to express interest in dancing.

Couples flocked to the dance floor at the beginning of a tanda.

Two lines of dance were clearly defined, and you could sense the room moving and vibrating at an unstructured though coordinated rhythm.  After dancing a couple of Tandas I realized I had received the right training; I knew the rules of the game and my skills were good enough to get out there and play; or better yet, to Tango.

Going to La Ideal was a great introduction to what a Milonga in Buenos Aires is all about, but the best was still yet to come.   At around midnight we left La Ideal as a group.  Most went back to the hotel but I was ready for more so I jumped into a cab and headed to Salon Canning.   Buenos Aires, here I am.

Cabeceo

On Saturday we went to one of Buenos Aires most prominent Milongas; Cachirulo at Villa Malcom.

We arrived early, around 8.30 pm, and there were a good number of people already there.  At the door we were greeted by Cachirulo who arranged tables and chairs for our group.

Our tables were on the hall adjacent to the rectangular dance floor.

Tables and chairs framed the dance floor, with women occupying two adjacent sides and men occupying the opposite two.  After ordering drinks and some food I began to sink into the Tango atmosphere at Malcom, watching the dynamics in and out of the dance floor.  I observed women dancing and admired their ease of movement, inherent beauty and grace.  From the distance I caught the attention of a pair of eyes in a body I had been gazing at; I nodded and received a head nod in return.

I was on my way to dance with ‘Salmon’, a tall slender woman wearing a beautiful salmon colored dress (thus the nickname) that danced like an angel.  She was from Madagascar.

Something that caught my attention was how, during the cortina, women were extra attentive in search of a dance partner they wished to dance with.  I was also on the prowl for dancing and noticed that many of those attentive eyes would look away or just look through me when I glanced intently at them.

Yikes, completely invisible, but that is what cabeceo is all about; it’s a basic code that frames a safe environment for accepting or declining a dance invitation.

In the Bay Area I hear followers and leaders whine about practicing cabeceo, and unfortunately many resist recognizing that practicing the code of cabeceo is essential in promoting better Tango dancing.

As the night progressed, and considering the times I was invisible to many of the women there, I had several good dances.  At around 1.30 am the group went back to the hotel, but I remained.

Noticing I was alone and that the crowed had thinned, Cachirulo offered me a Table by the dance floor.  Sitting in my new vantage point I looked attentively for potential dancers…but it seemed I was even more invisible; and yes, it was frustrating.  It took a while until I got an accepting nod during the second song of a Tanda.

During the small talk that takes place in between songs my dance partner shared that she decided to ‘risk’ dancing with me for half a tanda because she did not know me and had not seen me dance.

She was Argentenian and I realized that she was the first Argentenian I had danced with that night.  Inadvertently, this woman conveyed the essence and function of cabeceo and I am grateful for that.

The experience gave me confidence that all the drilling about the embrace and musicality I received from Marcelo had given me the tools to swim the waters of the Milongas in Buenos Aires, and I was grateful for that too.

The Embrace

One night, hanging out with Marcelo and Blas Catrenau, Blas shared his thoughts and feelings about how Tango is usually taught now days.

Paraphrasing Blas, he said something like, …because Tango begins in your ears, when you start hearing the music.  Then it goes to the eyes, as you search for and find the woman you want to dance with.

Then you feel the music and the moves it provokes in your body as you walk towards her; when you reach her you offer a gentle but firm left hand and you establish connection by completing her embrace; and then, and only then you move your feet.

Now days most Tango instructors teach Tango in the opposite order, they start with the feet and usually omit the music, the embrace, and the connection.

While listening to Blas I began to associate his account with the experiences I’ve had as an incipient Tango dancer, and I agreed.  While many Tango instructors in the Bay Area talk about musicality, my experience is that most focus on teaching (or performing) steps (believed by many to be the selling points) and pay little or no attention to the connection involved and required for dancing Tango.

Experience Tango in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a vibrant City, particularly at night.

November is spring in the southern hemisphere and people of all ages hit the streets way into the night hours.  For many the night begins after 11 pm and for some it does not end until dawn, or later.

I found men and women of a wide age range in the Milongas I went to.  Although age is not a factor determining dance skills, some of the best dancers I saw were into their sixties and beyond, and in the 10 days I spent in Buenos Aires many of these geezers were at most of the Milongas I went to.

No coco and TV for these guys; they were out dancing the night away every night.

At one of the Milongas Marcelo pointed out a short thin man with few white hairs, he suggested me look at him dance.

His name is Ricardo and he was amazing; elegant, musical, subtle, and about 89 years old.

Needless to say that I got distracted with the many allures at hand, however my admiration for Ricardo solidified later, at a Milonga in El Beso.

That night at El Beso, I had been dancing for a while when Ricardo showed up; Blass introduced us and I received a warm and firm hand shake.  Soon thereafter I began dancing a milonga on the packed dance floor.

I was kneading my moves with the music and the crowd when I spotted a woman glancing with a mischievous smile at someone on the dance floor right in front of me.

Her look was as hot as she was and my curiosity was sparked, so I paid attention to the dancers she had her attention on…and there was Ricardo Suarez, dancing with a statuesque European amazon (I had danced with her earlier) that was melting of joy as her ass jiggled rhythmically to Ricardo’s lead.

Did I mention my admiration for Ricardo?  Caramba, I want to learn to lead that kind of jiggling, I want to provoke that sense of joy.

Epilogue

I had a great experience with Marcelo’s Tango Tour to Buenos Aires and I am thankful to him for sharing with us his beloved Buenos Aires, his friends and instructors, and his passion for Tango.

I look forward to going back, and this time I’ll remember to enjoy more the warmth and the experience of the milongueros, watch more how they dance, and dance when I can.

In the meantime, I’ll do my best to share and recreate my Tango experience in Buenos Aires with the men and women in the Bay Area Tango community.

Experience Connection – Dance Tango. Join our classes in the San Francisco Bay Area…

 in Buenos Aires, includes transportation and personal assistance.

On learning to dance Argentine Tango

 in Buenos Aires, includes transportation and personal assistance.

By Álvaro Dominguez.

Several years ago, drawn by my love for and interest in Tango music, I began pursuing learning how to dance Tango.

Little did I know about the experiences this new practice would bring me or the paths it would take me through.

Like most incipient Tango dancers of the twenty first century, I thought dancing was a sequence of steps requiring a great level of mastery.

Consequently, I sought popular instructors that gave the impression of doing graceful moves across the floor on their dance studios.

These wonderful instructors showed me do a bunch of steps; the ocho, the cross, the rock-step, the boleo, the molinete… all off course with Tango music in the background.

Although I had the steps under my belt I did not feel I was dancing…something was missing and I had no clue of what that was.

Pursuing the feel of dancing I began going to all the Milongas I found within a 20 miles radius.

In doing so I soon noticed that none of the popular teachers were at the Milongas.

At the time I did not think much of it, I was a novice after all, but time it made me wonder.

Over a year after I began my Tango adventure a friend invited me to join her to a class.

I had heard of the teacher but I had not met him.

The class was small and the exercises were different. No steps. The emphasis was exclusively on musicality and connection.

Following the lead of our instructor we moved, weighing the beat of the music and keeping engaged with our dance partner.

Such approach was radical compared to previous Tango instruction I had received, and I confess that initially, the relevance and importance of being fully engaged when playing the game of dancing Tango passed way over my head…but eventually I came around as I began to realize and accept that the right attitude is essential for truly dancing Tango.

A person’s attitude towards Tango is reflected in many aspects of his or her behaviors:  our posture, how assertively and in synchrony with the music we move (or not), how we emphasizing the beat with our steps (or not), and even how we choose to dress when going out to the Milonga depict and reflect our attitude towards Tango and our dance partners.

Tango is an experience, it’s an experience of engagement with the music and with our dance partner; and once I began to realize this I began to experience Tango for what it is, when you dance Tango you experience connection.

It’s been funny to realize that I’ve learned as much Tango by talking with seasoned Milongueros about the dance, the music, and the curious or funny anecdotes of singers, players, or orchestra directors as I’ve learned from dance instructors.

During these conversations I learned and began to accept that, first and foremost, Tango dancing is an act of self-expression; I learnt that Tango lives and develops at the Milonga; and I learnt that for many, dancing Tango is sacred.

The Embrace

Repeatedly I’ve heard that the embrace is the most important aspect of Tango dancing.

Being in close physical proximity to another person brings to surface many emotions; that may explain why many dancers don’t pay attention to their embrace, as if tightly holding a body you chose to embrace was a chore and not a pleasure.

Tango is connection, connection with ourselves (we must be fully present to dance), connection with our partner, and connection with the music; the embrace is where followers rest and how leaders provide assurance and guidance, and the music is the excuse for dancers to keep embraced; intermittently for about three minutes at a time; moving through the dance floor, or barely not.

A good embrace holds many paradoxes; it is firm and flexible, it gives structure and freedom of movement; a good embrace allows two to become one, only if each part is accountable for its own.  When dancing closely embraced I juggle many emotions; I want to allow and fully enjoy the sensations that arise embracing my dance partner, and at the same time I want to provide her with comfort and assurance while she is in my arms.

The Tango embrace represents the juice of human relations, we offer ourselves to our dance partner and to the dance floor, and whether we like it or not, part of our emotional being comes out naked.

Thus, if we believe this and the embrace brings to surface so many emotions; how do we choose who to dance with?

Seasoned milongueros and milongueras agree that when they are not engaged dancing or socializing at the Milonga they pay attention to the dancers on the floor: who is moving gracefully?  Who is musical? Who is having a good time? Is their dance partner having a good time?

All this information is processed consciously and unconsciously, and the result is our decision of who we want to dance with…or not.

The Milonga and its Codes

The Milonga is a social event where people gather to dance Tango.

The Milonga provides more than the physical structure, such as the quality of the dance floor, the way tables and chairs are arranged around the dance floor, or the music played by the DJ.  Like Tango, the Milonga is about attitude, and a good Milonga fosters an attitude that promotes safe dancing rendezvous.

This attitude is determined by big and minuscule details; from how you are greeted by the host to the venue’s seating arrangements; from the lighting of the space to the way the patrons dance, their social skills, and the way they cared for themselves for the occasion.

On top of all that, another essential aspect of a Milonga is the adherence to the codes of the Milonga.

The codes of the Milonga are simple – music is organized in Tandas of three or four songs by the same orchestra, tandas are separated by cortinas (a non sequitur song), and dancers dance in the line of dance, counter clock wise.

Another important code is ‘cabeceo’.  Cabeceo, or head nod, is the way you indicate another person you are interested in dancing with them.  Unfortunately, this etiquette protocol is often overlooked locally; in fact, many local dancers (San Francisco Bay Area) resist this cultural aspect of the Milonga, and refuse to accept that cabeceo is essential because it promotes better dancing.

How does cabeceo promote better dancing? You may ask; the answer is simple.

Cabeceo:

Establishing eye contact with a potential dance partner and nodding your head indicates you are asking that person to dance.

If the person being nodded wants to decline the invitation, he or she discretely stops or avoids establishing eye contact; instead if the person wants to accept the invitation, he or she maintains eye contact and gives head nod in-turn to confirm.

Once the willingness to dance has been established, the leader walks towards the follower, looking for her sight and maintaining eye contact when possible.

The follower remains on her seat, once the leader has approached and has nodded again she gets up and proceeds to accept the dance.

Let’s say you are a seasoned Tango dancer at a Milonga.

A new Tanda starts with one of your favorite songs, “Te aconsejo que me olvides” played by Troilo and sang by Fiorentino.

You know this song by heart, and you start feeling the melody slowly creeping inside your body and you start looking for the right dance partner.

Who is the right dance partner?

Is it the first available follower at sight? Is it the first leader that nods you?

Well, maybe.

Sometimes those are our best options and we take them; however, more seasoned dancers usually don’t.

The Milonga is a social event, not a practice, and in general we want to dance with partners of our own dancing level, a partner that we are confident will understand how we move and respond accordingly.

When there is a big gap between dance partners’ abilities, it is likely that one is enjoying it more than the other, and this gap means that degree of self-expression is distorted.

Although we learn much by dancing with a more experienced dancer, the Milonga is not a practice.

Going back to you, seasoned dancer, at the Milonga where “Te aconsejo que me olvides” just opened the Tanda; you look around and see followers and leaders scaning the room for potential dance partners.

So, who do you want to dance this Tanda with…maybe someone with whom you’ve already enjoyed dancing Troilo with, maybe a leader with a melting embrace, maybe a soft and sensitive follower that is like a cloud flowing with the slightest breeze.

The beauty of cabeceo is that it clearly sets the difference between a practica and a Milonga; it allows dancers to respectfully decline an invitation, or to accept without uttering a word.

At Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires we are committed to bring to you a complete Argentine Tango experience. Learn to dance Tango with us.

Dancing at milongas.

Seven tips for women who want to dance more in the milonga.

Written by Marcelo Castelo and published in ArgenTango magazine #2.

Translated by Olga Matveeva

Dancing at milongas | Argentine TangoThroughout the years milonga organizers hear continuous complaints from women: “Tonight I danced very little”, “There are no men”, or “I am not asked to dance”.

The reality is, in general, in many milongas the quantity of women is larger than men.

Adding that the men also take breaks between tandas to get a drink or perhaps smoke a cigarette, it lowers  the women’s possibility of getting a dance. However, women also wonder: what they contribute from their part to the fact that they dance less or more?

To help all those women here are some suggestions that, albeit obvious, are worth repeating, and, perhaps, would increase their possibility of dancing in the milonga.

1) Learn to look

It is known that in the traditional milonga the invitation is made by the man by means of cabeceo.

So it is essential for the woman to learn to observe and notice these looks and gestures.

Sometimes we see women in the beginning of the tanda getting distracted, not paying attention to the man’s signals, so the latter changes his mind and chooses to invite someone else.

In other cases, for shyness or intimidation, women refuse to look directly at men, and end up sitting. Hence, stay alert under the men’s glances, especially at the beginning of each tanda.

2) Put on your best face

The milonga is a place where people want to relax, forget their everyday problems.

For that reason, men will keep away from a woman with a sour facial expression.

Your most attractive feature is your smile.

Be in a happy mood, others will perceive it. A good moment to show your cheerful disposition would be a salsa break. In my personal opinion, this is the most important advice.

3) Care where you sit in the room

Often women keep asking to be seated in places that are far from being the best in order to get more dances.

Being in the first row, closest to the dance floor is not always the best.

When there are no men on the sides or in front within reasonable distance, women will have to wait till someone walks closer to their table.

Once you got a seat, study the best angle to direct the glances at prospective partners.

4) Do not always expect the best

That one illustrates very well the paradox of the dancer: the better one learns to dance, the less possibilities occur to apply it, for the lack of suitable partners.

It is inevitable one wishes to dance with somebody better than him/her, but if it were always the case, nobody would ever dance with anyone!

Try to go to the milonga with no expectations beyond having some good time, and do not get super selective with the occasional partners.

Also, dancing is not everything, lets not reject the opportunity to meet interesting people just because they do not fulfill our expectations as dancers.

5) Improve your dance level, take lessons

A recurrent saying among milongueros is that everyone believes to be a better dancer than he or she really is.

It does not matter what you think about your dance level, it matters what your partners think.

When one dances better, she gets invited more. Therefore, take lessons!

6) To be and to appear

Any woman who frequents the milongas cannot help but notice: when enters a well dressed man, wearing an elegant dark suit, impeccable shoes, he always attracts women’s attention.

Same goes for women. Hence, if you go to a milonga where people don’t know you, the more you look the part, the better.

Dressing with elegance, carrying yourself with poise, behaving like a milonguera will secure you a number of invitations to the dance floor.

Of course, all that has to come with a decent level of dance.

7) Become a regular

If you jump a lot from one milonga to another, know that you always have to pay “the floor due” before people start recognizing you.

Men tend to invite partners they know, otherwise they wait for someone else to ask a woman, so they can observe her dance level.

Upon entering the milonga, give greetings to the men you had danced with in other places.

Becoming a regular in a place is the most convenient way of securing dance invitations (providing you paid attention to all the above mentioned advice).

Learn to dance Argentine Tango…

History of Argentine Tango at Escuela de tango de Buenos Aires - Marcelo Solis

Argentine Tango’s history – Introduction

El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon - Tango dancer's leyendsArgentine Tango is a dance originated in the poor neighborhoods of the largest cities in Argentina and Uruguay at the end of the XIX century.

It represents the cultural mix of immigrants and the established population. In the 1800’s, Buenos Aires and Montevideo had a population of 25 % to more than 50 % of Africans each. They were servants of the most influential families of these cities and were more integrated to the life of these families and the society in general than the Africans of other societies like North America.

“Tangos” were called the black people celebrations and places of meeting since the beginning of the XIX century. Is in these places where the dance known today as tango began the development of its choreography and music.

Other African terms directly related to tango are “milonga” and “candombe”. “Milonga” is a Quimbanda expression that means “words” and referred originally to a kind of duel between two countryside singers called “payadores” that playing guitar will improvise verses of eight syllables with a structure type question/answer; while “candombe” is a Bantú word that referred originally to the rhythms and dances made by the Africans in their tango meetings and also to these meetings.

When they were given freedom (1853) they created several associations -kinds of   unions- to help themselves, and placed them mostly in the area of the   neighborhood of Montserrat. During   carnival, they used to go out on the streets with bright colored costumes and big-feathered hats, dancing many hours to the monotonous rhythm of “candombe”—   the music they played at these events. Different associations competed for the   supremacy and this developed into bloody incidents in the streets.

The   repetition of the violence forced the police to close many of those associations   in 1877. It was the end of black people’s carnival. The consequence of this was   the creation of several dance centers where they developed a kind of couple dance called “tango” using the same choreographic elements they used before in   their candombes. But that tango was not an embraced couple dance. They danced it separately.

Other influence in the origins of tango comes from a typical character of the Argentine Pampas: the “gaucho”.

GauchoThe “gaucho” is the product of the mix between the first Spanish arrived to the lands later called Argentina, and the natives. They were very skillful in the techniques needed to survive in the countryside. They liked to live far away from populated cities and towns, had not regular jobs, occasionally get hired by the owners of the “estancias” (farms), and knew the secrets of the knife fencing and horse riding.

They had a strong morality of independence and, if needed, faced the arbitrarily police. These “gauchos” had a very important participation in the battles for the emancipation against the Spanish Kingdom. They symbolized the ideals of autonomy, courage and justice without arbitrariness.

After the Constitution of 1853 the ideas of modernity and progress start to shape the new country. The “gaucho” did not fit in this project and began to   suffer a persecution. The lands where the gaucho used to wander were confiscated and given to others. Having not other option they moved into the poor suburbs of the city and got jobs as butchers, herdsmen, horse-breakers or cart drivers. Even though the gaucho goes under a metamorphosis, leaving the horse, shortening his knife to hide it better because it was not allowed in the city, changing his clothes and getting the new name of “compadre”; he still keeps the same ideals of justice, independence and courage.

His new neighbors start to admire him and many times came to him looking for protection or advice. The young men of these poor suburbs start to imitate the attitudes of the compadres  and soon got for themselves the name of “compadritos”. Although the gaucho, transformed in compadre, brought the “milonga” to the slums, he did not dance.

Although the gaucho, transformed in compadre, brought the “milonga” to the slums, he did not dance. His inheritors, the compadritos, did dance.

They took the choreographies of other dances which had arrived from other places of the   world and were danced in the port of Buenos Aires and Montevideo such as polka, mazurka, waltz, and habanera; and danced  with them to the music of the milongas. Further more, they also incorporated   elements from the black people’s dances, from their “tangos”, most of the time with racist sarcasm.

This originated a way of dancing called “cortes y quebradas” and a musical genre called either “tango” or “milonga”.

When these dances arrived to the port of Buenos Aires in the second half of XIX century, the embrace technique was known as “dancing to the European fashion”. The compadritos adopted this technique and incorporate it to the movements they took from the African’s tangos. Until this moment, all the embraced dances were of continuous movement, which means that one time the couple starts to move will not stop until the end of the song. On the other hand, the African’s tangos, as well as the other not embraced dances, used “figures”, which means that one or both partners will suddenly stop and take a position called figure. In order to put together these two different ways of dancing – the embrace and   the figures – the compadritos had to go further into the embrace technique and create the “close embrace” technique. Before the tango, there was space in-between the partners in all the embraced dances. With tango there are not space in-between partners anymore. Tango incorporated the close embrace technique that allows the “figures” in the embraced dance: one partner will stop while the other keeps moving or both will   suddenly stop for a while and restart the movement a few beats later. The close embrace was enough for tango to be disapproved by the serious society. In addition, the compadritos liked to play with the scandal and with a mocking and unconcerned attitude making provocative movements in the dance for the amusement of some and the shock of the others.

The 1853’s Constitution opens Argentina to the immigration. Millions of immigrants, mainly Italians and Spanish, arrived to the country and changed it radically.

Immigrants arriving to the port of Buenos AiresTango was influenced by the immigration too. Its rhythm slowed down and its melodies acquired a nostalgic flavor in contrast with its original joking   attitude. Its choreography also changed, leaving its provocative character and tidying up its figures. A novel instrument was incorporated to the tango music, the bandoneon, created in Germany, which fits perfectly with the new shape of tango. Soon, the bandoneon became the icon of tango music. All this will prepare tango for its acceptance in the Europeans ballrooms.

The 1913 was the year of its highest popularity in Paris.

This made it return to Argentina, its natural country, from the “big door”. Rejected before by the high society as a product of the slums, it became praised for everyone thanks to its   international fame. Everybody wanted to learn to dance tango at this time. Only the 1917 World War will stop the popularity of this dance in Europe, but just for a while. The same year, 1917, a countryside singer, included in his repertoire the first tango with a lyric, creating the way of singing tangos.

This man was Carlos Gardel, and even he died in 1935, he still reigns as the model of the tango singer thanks to his 1500 records.

Carlos Gardel | Argentine music at Escuela de Tango de Buenos AiresThe WWI, the post war crisis and the bright presence of Carlos Gardel eclipsed tango as a dance for a while. This was the period of the popularity of the “tango-canción”(tango-song), good for listening but not necessarily for dancing.

In 1935 Juan D’Arienzo incorporated the piano player Rodolfo Biagi in his orchestra and with a fast and playful rhythm which reminded the origins   of tango, started to attract thousands of dancers back to the ballrooms.

Juan D'Arienzo portrateThe acceptance of this orchestra was so big, that other orchestras begun to imitate its characteristic rhythm.

At this point, tango was a mature artistic expression. Music, dance and poetry reached its pinnacle and developed during the 1940’s in what was known in Argentina as the Golden Age of Tango. During these years, tango defined the shape we know today.

Three decades of dictators made tango blur in Argentinean’s life, especially tango as a dance, but was not enough to make it disappear. 1984 was the year where the democracy came back in Argentina and it also the year which tango revived. The worldwide acceptance of Astor Piazzolla music, who knew how to integrate tango to other musical expressions as classical music, jazz and rock, incorporating electronic   instruments; the triumph in Russia of Julio Bocca, an international known Argentine ballet dancer who danced to Piazzolla music; and the amazing success in Broadway of the show “Tango Argentino” which presented   the greatest tango dancers at that time; all of these plus the freedom of expression that democracy brought to Argentineans, made possible what we are   able to see today: a strong presence of tango not only in Argentina, its natural country, but also in the whole world.

Why did Tango triumph all over the world?

It is not easy to find one absolute answer but maybe has to do with the necessity of expression and Tango is a dance where all the range of human feelings can be expressed: happiness, homesickness, passion, wittiness and much more…

More about the History of Argentine Tango…

Learn more about Argentine Tango at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires.

Bibliography:

“Crónica general del Tango”, José Gobello. Editorial Fraterna, Buenos Aires,   1980. “La historia del Tango”, tomo 2 “Primera época”, Roberto Selles y León   Benarós. Editorial Corregidor, Buenos Aires, 1977.

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