Argentine Tango: A Brief History
by Susan August Brown
The exact origins of tangoboth the dance and the word itselfare lost in myth and an unrecorded history. The generally accepted theory is that in the mid-1800s, African slaves were brought to Argentina and began to influence the local culture. The word "tango" may be straightforwardly African in origin, meaning "closed place" or "reserved ground." Or it may derive from Portuguese (and from the Latin verb tanguere, to touch) and was picked up by Africans on the slave ships. Whatever its origin, the word "tango" acquired the standard meaning of the place where African slaves and free blacks gathered to dance.
Argentina was undergoing a massive immigration during the later part of the 1800s and early 1900s. In 1869, Buenos Aires had a population of 180,000. By 1914, its population was 1.5 million. The intermixing of African, Spanish, Italian, British, Polish, Russian and native-born Argentines resulted in a melting pot of cultures, and each borrowed dance and music from one another. Traditional polkas, waltzes and mazurkas were mixed with the popular habanera from Cuba and the candombe rhythms from Africa.
Most immigrants were single men hoping to earn their fortunes in this newly expanding country. They were typically poor and desperate, hoping to make enough money to return to Europe or bring their families to Argentina. The evolution of tango reflects their profound sense of loss and longing for the people and places they left behind.
Most likely the tango was born in African-Argentine dance venues attended by compadritos, young men, mostly native born and poor, who liked to dress in slouch hats, loosely tied neckerchiefs and high-heeled boots with knives tucked casually into their belts. The compadritos took the tango back to the Corrales Viejosthe slaughterhouse district of Buenos Airesand introduced it in various low-life establishments where dancing took place: bars, dance halls and brothels. It was here that the African rhythms met the Argentine milonga music (a fast-paced polka) and soon new steps were invented and took hold.
Although high society looked down upon the activities in the barrios, well-heeled sons of the porteño oligarchy were not averse to slumming. Eventually, everyone found out about the tango and, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the tango as both a dance and as an embryonic form of popular music had established a firm foothold in the fast-expanding city of its birth. It soon spread to provincial towns of Argentina and across the River Plate to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where it became as much a part of the urban culture as in Buenos Aires.
The worldwide spread of the tango came in the early 1900s when wealthy sons of Argentine society families made their way to Paris and introduced the tango into a society eager for innovation and not entirely averse to the risqué nature of the dance or dancing with young, wealthy Latin men. By 1913, the tango had become an international phenomenon in Paris, London and New York. There were tango teas, tango train excursions and even tango colorsmost notably orange. The Argentine elite who had shunned the tango were now forced into accepting it with national pride.
The tango spread worldwide throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The dance appeared in movies and tango singers traveled the world. By the 1930s, the Golden Age of Argentina was beginning. The country became one of the ten richest nations in the world and music, poetry and culture flourished. The tango came to be a fundamental expression of Argentine culture, and the Golden Age lasted through the 1940s and 1950s.
Tango's fortunes have always been tied to economic conditions and this was very true in the 1950s. During this time, as political repression developed, lyrics reflected political feelings until they started to be banned as subversive. The dance and its music went underground as large dance venues were closed and large gatherings in general were prohibited. The tango survived in smaller, unpublicized venues and in the hearts of the people.
The necessity of going underground combined with the eventual invasion of rock and roll sent the tango into decline until the mid-1980s when the stage show Tango Argentino opened in Paris. Once again Paris was ground zero for igniting tango excitement worldwide. The show toured the world and stimulated a revival in Europe, North America and Japan that we are part of today.
Critiques | Translate
mesutilgim (90698) 2010-10-09 14:07
Selam sevgili Coşkun,
Tam "sudan çıkmış balığa" dönmüşsün şimdi ! Aslında bunlar da kıpır kıpır, "hamsi paluğu gibi" ! Şaka bir yana döktürmüşsün ustalığını.
Verdiğin zengin bilgilerle de basit bir TE katkısı değil, doktora çalışması gibi olmuş !
Selam ve sevgiler
Glint (6171) 2010-10-09 15:11
this is a very attractive image. A sensual dance, attractive people and wonderful lighting.I will add this to my theme "Come Dancing" so that I can look at it again.
Sonata11 (33717) 2010-10-09 20:32
impressive shot with goog cotrast, sharpness.Attractive people with elegance.Beautifull photo.
macondo (18977) 2010-10-09 22:49
Excellent photo with just the right amount of light and shadow, and sufficient detail showing in the darker parts. Sharp, noise-free and a capture which displays a good composition of the dancers in a dynamic pose. A very elegant, high quality shot which shows us something quintessential about tango and about Argentina.
stny (18) 2010-10-10 1:33
Gelmiş geçmiş dansların en güzeli Tango'nun kendi öz yurdunda seyri, insanın nefesini keser mutlaka.Zeynep bir de müzik ilave etse! bu şahane gösteriye.İyi Pazarlar dilerim
jhm (146618) 2010-10-10 3:44
My wife and I are ball-room and latin dancers, but no Argentine dancers.
What a splendid pose of the three couples, this is fantastic done.
You play excellent with light and dark parts, this is great atmosphere.
Nice captured and good composed, very well done, TFS.
amazon (12112) 2010-10-10 5:09
1600 iso,pırıl pırıl ,net ve hayat,estetik,seyirlik ve son derece erotik bir kare....ellerine sağlık ustam...
tober (8797) 2010-10-11 0:23
Tangonun o kendine has hırçın zarafetini çok güzel yansıtmışsınız. Buenos Aires akşamlarına daldık sayenizde. Elinize sağlık Coşkun Bey.
didemay (2945) 2010-10-19 13:07
Netliğin, keskinliğin, ışığın, estetiğin, açının, kadrajın başarısı nefis.
baclama (18667) 2010-10-19 13:14
Une très belle lumière pour mettre en valeur ces danseurs
Une photo bien réalisée dans les règles de l art qui donne envie de se laisser enivrer par la musique
svefay (810) 2010-10-20 12:49
"Gardel'in Yeri" mi burası?
Süper netlik, nefis görüntü, elinize sağlık...
yquem46 (38750) 2010-10-20 12:57
Not well paid so far
excellent action shot in the twilight, difficult light well managed, no grain or very little (thanks Mr D3 !), nice postures of the dancers taken in the perspective
Excellent quality and expressive shot
- Copyright: Coskun Tezic (Tezic) (17867)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2010-09-05
- Categories: Festivals
- Camera: Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S
- Exposure: f/4.5, 1/80 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Theme(s): come dancing [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2010-10-09 14:04