Tango

Where it all started

The history of the Tango

Tango is one of the most famous and influential styles of dance the world has known, born from the cultural and musical mix of native South Americans (Argentina and Uruguay), African slaves and European traders and immigrants.

In 1789 the Argentinian government banned ‘Tango musical gatherings’ for fear of lower class uprisings.

In fact they were only dancing and it was an eclectic mix of Mazurka, Milonga, Habanera and Candome. Tango became the name of the dance and the music and was prominent in brothels and bars along the River Plate where the introduction of the German bandoneon (accordion) by sailors to the music was integral to its development.

In the early 1900’s bands ventured to Europe and the Tango craze hit London, Paris and Berlin. Some bands played faster Tango music and some very slow, thus supporting the split between English ballroom style and Argentine Tango.

The Argentinian President Juan Peron was instrumental in making the dance popular and acceptable, changing it from its distasteful and flirty roots. In the 1950’s it was not unusual to see men dancing it together.

The origin of the word ‘Tango’ is unclear but some suggest that it could have been the word ‘Shango’ from the Nigerian language meaning ‘God of Thunder’ or the Portuguese ‘Tanger’ meaning to play a musical instrument.

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It's all in the style

There are many different styles but International ballroom Tango is danced in a ballroom hold, with subtle differences, almost an embrace, with contact in the hip and thigh area, as opposed to the Argentine Tango which has a mainly open hold.

It is danced with a solid core, a rigid hold and without rise and fall allowing movement and shapes to be fast, staccato and dramatic.

There is mutual acknowledgement of steps and figures from all Tango styles but sharp movements of the feet and body are concurrent. Stillness and speed feature strongly.

That perfect beat

Formerly a Latin American dance, it was reclassified a ballroom dance to equalise the number of Ballroom and Latin dances in competitions.

Tango is danced at 30 bars per minute in 4/4 rhythm and danced socially is a fascinating and enchanting alternative to the other free flowing ballroom dances. Its character and music makes it fun to dance.

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