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"Tango cannot be written without Buenos Aires streets or sunsets. -Jorge Luis Borges"

Tango music has haunted me since childhood. It has always attracted me even though I never wanted to admit it in the first place that I could like this kind of old fashion music. At least that's what I though at the time. But when French artist's retaken of Argentine standard were to be played on the radio goose bump would run through me. And one day I discover Astor Piazzola and his "new Tango" (Balada para un loco, Adios Nonino, Libertango?). This avant-garde music made me understand that Tango wasn't only this old fashion music that old people would dance on in popular dance ball during the 14th of July celebration or in some tea dance party in Bastille or Montmartre. It was for me the starting point of my exploration of Tango and the discovery of many great Argentine artists.

As I was walking through Buenos Aires's Microcentro on Avenida Florida, I bump into this group of Tango dancers. Most of all the tourist place in Buenos Aires have at least a couple of tango dancers performing for tourists. But this group did not only dance onto Tango anthems, between every performance, they would tell the story of Tango. Even though my understanding of Spanish is really succinct, I took a great pleasure to watch them dance and tell their stories.


The origin of Tango:
Nobody really knows the origin of Tango. Some people talk about some African roots, the fact is this type of dance is exclusively "Porteño", from Buenos Aires. Some writers think it is a mix of different style of music; it has the choreography of a Milonga, the rhythm of a Candomba, a sentimental melody line and emotional strength of a Cuban Habanera.

In the 19th century, Buenos Aires had very few places of entertainments. People from popular neighbourhood would spend their free time in Circus or in some meeting places like Café where they could listen some music played by bands of musicians who didn't even know how to read music.

It is said that Tango appeared around 1880. In this very period of time, brothels were flourishing across the city. Most of the women that were working in those brothels were European migrants; Spanish, French, Italians, Germans, Polish, ? The customers were also migrant from Europe who left their families and wives behind to make fortune. They were trying to find comfort in the arms of the prostitute.

The competition was hard, the brothels started hiring musician to entertain the patrons. The people then started to dance to the music. Those performances became quite successful and more frequent. This is supposed to be the origin of Tango.
It is said that the first Tango composer was a man called Juan Perez who wrote a song titled "Dame la lata" (give me the tin) around 1880. However, it is quite possible that some Tangos, like "Andáte a la Recoleta" (Going to the Recoleta) or "El Tero" are older.

Soon the Tango was to be dance outside of the brothels. Firstly in dance academies of Buenos Aires but only danced by men. And then, the Tango spread through the street of Buenos Aires and finally established itself in great Cafés like the "Tarana café", the "Hansen café", "El Kiokisto" and "El Velódromo". Soon enough women join the men in the dance, adding more life to the Tango.

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Additional Photos by Romain Donadio (green) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 235 W: 222 N: 121] (1014)
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