The History of Tango – Part 2

In part one of the history of the tango we saw that the dance originated in the bordellos and houses of ill repute in Buenos Aires. It is perceived today as a dance for high society but its origins were far more rudimentary and it was actually a dance that re-enacted the relationship between a […]

Add To Cart

The History of Tango – Part 2

00

In part one of the history of the tango we saw that the dance originated in the bordellos and houses of ill repute in Buenos Aires. It is perceived today as a dance for high society but its origins were far more rudimentary and it was actually a dance that re-enacted the relationship between a pimp and his prostitute. In this blog we focus on how tango came to Hollywood, and how the world...

In part one of the history of the tango we saw that the dance originated in the bordellos and houses of ill repute in Buenos Aires. It is perceived today as a dance for high society but its origins were far more rudimentary and it was actually a dance that re-enacted the relationship between a pimp and his prostitute. In this blog we focus on how tango came to Hollywood, and how the world accepted it as a mainstream classical dance.

Hollywood Calls

Following the great acceptance of the tango in Europe the next leap in its development was spearheaded by none other than Rudolph Valentino the famous movie star. Valentino hailed from Argentina and the directors and moguls of Hollywood decided to use tango as an expression of his character in the film, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1962.

Valentino was depicted as an Argentine cowboy, a gaucho, and performed a tango on the Silver Screen with a carnation between his lips and a whip snapping in his hand. It is one of the greatest ever movie scenes that has featured the tango, and the fact that gauchos never danced the tango seemed to be immaterial.

Hollywood forced future film stars to dress up in wide trousers and leather chaps whenever a tango was deemed necessary in a movie. It was due to the power and imagery that Valentino managed to display in that ground-breaking performance.

The Golden Age of Tango

Perhaps the biggest ever star of the tango was Carlos Gardel, he was made for the dance. Gardel epitomized the Argentinian macho man and his voice was most beautiful, it was not surprising that he was loved by everybody. Future generations of tango dancers were measured against Gardel and it was a very large yardstick to live up to.

His fame spread like wildfire due to the newly accepted medium of radio, and soon Gardel epitomized the tango, and it was very much the Golden Age of tango. After his tragic death in an air crash the tango movement split into two. Filiberto D’Arisen spearheaded the traditional form of tango while people like De Caro and Dia Sari wanted the dance form to evolve more.

The Tango Nuevo

The Golden Age of tango ended in 1950 and the next superstar that carried the tango banner forward was Astor Piazzolla. He believed the tango was more of a music form than a dance, he wrote many pieces of music based on tango’s principles. Piazzolla composed concertos, operas, film scores and theater music, a new era had dawned for tango.

Since then tango has opened its doors to rock and jazz, and traditional instruments have been replaced with synthesizers and electric guitars. Today young people seem to accept the tango as many types of art form and a dance or music that is open to expression.

The historic and beautiful Buenos Aires is still the center of the world as far as tango is concerned, but the passionate and sometimes melancholy tango will forever be in the lives of everyday folk, and its humble beginnings will never be forgotten.