The most alluring, the most captivating, and maybe even the most sensual of all the ballroom dances.
Tango sprung from the poor and underprivileged areas of the docklands of Buenos Aires where the African and European immigrants would dance in the street and in the brothels. For this reason, Tango is a fusion of Europe and African style.The tango became popular due to a shortage of women. The majority of immigrants came to Buenos Aires for economic purposes: to raise enough money to take back to their families, and thus they were mostly men. Τhe only way for a man to get close to a woman was either to go to a brothel or to dance, and to be a good one. These opinions have been based on the literary work of Jorge Luis Borges, which refers to identification of the roots of tango with prostitution.
Making its first appearance around 1880 tango passed through various stages. The first, the old guard (la guardia vieja) lasted until 1917; second, the new guard (la guardia nueva) until 1930; third, the “golden age” of tango, named Peronist by the name of the President of Argentina, Juan Perón that lasted until 1950 and the last guard of tango (1955-1983) which was associated mainly with the compositions of Astor Piazzolla.
During 1955-1983 Tango went underground. The military government prosecuted dancers and banned several Tango songs. Tango did not disappear all together but due to the repressive regime it lost its enormous popularity.
Tango is the first couple dance in Europe to include improvisation. This might explain the Tango’s enormous popularity when it bust in 1912, starting in Paris and later spreading to the rest of Europe. When the upper class of Porteños heard about the Tango’s huge popularity in Europe they re-imported the tango for themselves! During the last thirty years we could say that we are experiencing a rebirth of tango, that nowdays is popular worlwide .
Tango exudes passion, desperate longing and sexual innuendo. As the famous saying goes ‘Tango is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire’. Apart from the sexual nature of the tango has a “polemic” natureas well. In his work, Borges stated that: “The music is a will, passion; old tango music usually transmits this belligerent euphoria, the same that in the old days the Greeks and Germans rhapsodes tried to express in words.”
The tango is a dance in which, apart from provocative touch there is an aspect of improvisation as well. It consists variety of styles that have been developed in different regions and eras of Argentina and in other locations around the world.The styles are mostly danced in either open embrace, where lead and follow have space between their bodies, or close embrace, where the lead and follow connect either chest-to-chest (Argentine tango) or in the upper thigh, hip area (American and International tango).
Dale A. Olsen και Daniel E. Sheehy (επιμ.) The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music. NY & London: Routledge, 2000.
Jorge Luis Borges, Evaristo Kariegko, mtf.Tasos Denegris. Athens: Ypsilon, 1984.