The History of Tango – Part 1

Tango is synonymous with Latin America but it is really Argentina and Buenos Aires that the whole tango movement started and evolved. Buenos Aires lives and breathes tango, it is all over the city from the milongas to cafes and nightclubs, just walk around the city and tango is everywhere. The Argentine Tango has a […]

Add To Cart

The History of Tango – Part 1

00

Tango is synonymous with Latin America but it is really Argentina and Buenos Aires that the whole tango movement started and evolved. Buenos Aires lives and breathes tango, it is all over the city from the milongas to cafes and nightclubs, just walk around the city and tango is everywhere. The Argentine Tango has a rich and deep history in Buenos Aires, from its very poor and humble concept to...

Tango is synonymous with Latin America but it is really Argentina and Buenos Aires that the whole tango movement started and evolved. Buenos Aires lives and breathes tango, it is all over the city from the milongas to cafes and nightclubs, just walk around the city and tango is everywhere.

The Argentine Tango has a rich and deep history in Buenos Aires, from its very poor and humble concept to its elevated position as one of the leading classical dances in the world. In this blog we tell of the history of this great dance and also how it evolved together with Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires

The largest port and city of Argentina is bustling Buenos Aires and it is also the capital of this famous South American country. Buenos Aires can be found nestled on the Rio de la Plata’s southern shore, on the eastern coast of the South American continent.

Buenos Aires has rich European influences and has been nicknamed, Paris of the South. The city is sophisticated, that soaks up Latin American culture like a sponge. There are many pavement cafes, restaurants, art galleries and cultural activities in this grand capital, and it is hardly surprising that tango should emerge from such a place.

The Underground Movement

Today tango is seen as a classy dance, performed by women wearing glamorous gowns and men in tuxedos, it epitomizes high society and all its elegance. However, nothing can be further from the truth, tango originated from the bordellos and brothels of the underbelly of Buenos Aires.

As immigrants came pouring into the city from Africa and Europe they settled in the outskirts of Buenos Aires around the late 1800’s. Many were attracted to the more dubious side of the great capital and frequented the houses of ill repute.

Tango first represented the relationship between the pimp and the prostitute, and the titles of the first tangos were quite lewd indeed and in some people’s minds as obscene. This form of the dance spread among the underground world for many years, and it was around this time an instrument from Germany was introduced into the music. The bandoneon soon became popular, it was a sort of keyboard instrument like a small organ. Eduardo Arolas was the first Argentine that became famous for playing the bandoneon, and its deep melancholic tone was ideal for the tango.

Paris

The next chapter of the history of the Argentine Tango must include the legendary Ricardo Guiraldes. Guiraldes was a society figure who also wrote poetry, he was seen very much as an Argentinian playboy. He loved socializing and especially going to places where he could see the tango being performed.

Then in 1910 he toured Europe with a group of bohemian friends and wrote the classic poem Tango, honoring the dance. He established the tango in Paris when he himself visited a well-known salon and performed the dance himself, the Paris socialites loved his performance and took the dance to their hearts. Interestingly back in Buenos Aires the Argentines saw this high society dance revolution and adopted it into their own lives.

In part two of the history of tango, we look at how it effects Hollywood and the part Rudolph Valentino played in its exposure.