Tango danced with a slightly leaning posture and in close embrace ideal for crowded dance floors. The couple maintains a constant upper body contact and often doesn’t loosen their embrace to accommodate turns or ocho’s Milonguero Style is the reigning standard for social tango today, from the halls of Buenos Aires to the packed ballrooms of the American and European festivals.
Salon Style originates from the time when dances were held in more expensive, less populous venues. This is an elegant style from the 1940’s. The embrace can be close or open, but is typically offset and in a V shape. More movement is allowed in dancing with a slightly loose embrace.
The Orillero-style originated in a setting where dancers had a lot of room to maneuver and thus were able to maintain a further distance from their partners thus allowing both dancers to make other steps outside the embrace. Orillero style differs from salon style tango because of these playful, space-consuming embellishments and figures. The style can be danced in both open and close embraces.
Tango Nuevo is about fluid, creative, and organic movement while exploring all of the possibilities and moves that the tango vocabulary can offer. A great emphasis is placed on each dancer maintaining his or her own axis. It is danced in an open and loose embrace. Tango Nuevo grew out of classic Salon Style as an adaptation to the complexities of improvising to modern tango music.
Club-style is the fusion of salon and milonguero styles. It is danced in a close embrace, but the couple loosens their embrace during turns allowing the woman to rotate more freely.
Fantasia (Show Tango)
Fantasia is the style of tango that is danced in stage shows. It is a combination of various styles danced in an open embrace with additional elements that are not part of the social tango vocabulary.
Canyengue is a historical form of tango. The embrace is close and in an offset V, the dancers typically have bent knees as they move, and the woman does not cross. Canyengue dancers are known to use exaggerated body movements to accent their steps.
Buenos Aires and tango are synonymous terms, and tango is an integral part of the large city. You can find the tango all over Buenos Aires: in it’s mythical cafes, at the milongas, and by walking around the city’s authentic neighborhoods.
The history of the Argentine Tango, from tango’s humble beginnings to its latest developments, is part of the grand history of Buenos Aires.
The Passion of the Underworld
Although it has come to epitomize the glamour and elegance of high society, with women in sleek glittering evening gowns and men in tuxedos, the Argentine Tango originated in society’s underbelly, the brothels. As immigrants from Europe, Africa, and ports unknown streamed into the outskirts of Buenos Aires during the 1880’s, many came toward the houses of ill repute. The tango dance originated as an “acting out” of the relationship between the prostitute and her pimp. In fact, the titles of the first tangos referred to characters in the world of prostitution and were considered very obscene by society.
This form of the tango spread throughout the underworld for a number of years. During that time the bandoneon, an accordion-like instrument, was introduced into the music. The bandoneon came from Germany where it was used to play religious music in churches that couldn’t afford an organ. In Argentina, Eduardo Arolas is credited as being the main early pioneer of the instrument and having forever intertwined the fates of the bandoneon and the tango artform. Eduardo said that the bandoneon was made to play the tango, with its deep melancholy feeling that the immigrants enjoyed as a sentimental tingle in their hard working lives.
Next Came Paris...
The next chapter in the history of the Argentine Tango was “written” by Ricardo Guiraldes. Ricardo was a well-to-do poet and writer and an upper-class playboy in Argentina. He enjoyed emulating the social lives of his more bohemian friends, including going to these tango performances. In 1910, Ricardo went on a tour of Europe. He wrote a poem called “Tango” to honour the dance, and gave a tango performance at a fashionable Parisian salon. The crowd was deeply attracted to the dance and Tango was the first of the many latin dance crazes that were to sweep Europe. With the popularity of the Argentine Tango in Europe, Argentine high society took a new look at the dance and welcomed it into their own lives.
Introduction by Hollywood
The next great name in the development of tango is movie star Rudolph Valentino. Hollywood moguls were able to connect the Argentine star’s image to the tango artform in the movie “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”(1926). Valentino played a gaucho(Argentine Cowboy) and performed a tango dance wearing wide trousers and leather chaps while holding a carnation in his mouth and a whip in his hand. The scene is probably the greatest in the history of the Argentine Tango, not for a second discounted by the fact that gauchos never danced tango. Even future tango stars were forced to perform dances dressed as gauchos for no other reason but the strength of that scene and the image it created.
Gardel and Tango’s Golden Age
Carlos Gardel was the star that became the greatest champion of the Argentine Tango. His beautiful voice and macho looks made him Argentina’s favorite sun and the measuring stick for generations to come. The invention and wide use of the radio, records and film helped spread his fame worldwide, and make this time the Golden Age of Tango.
Gardel was tragically killed in an aircrash in Columbia. After his death the artform split into two main movements that dominated the then packed concerts and dance halls that tango has become. The traditionalist movement was led by Filiberto, D’Arisen, Biggie and De Angel is, while the evolutionists were led by De Caro, Dia Sari, Troilo and Pugliese. Bands grew and became more popular until the end of the Golden Age in around 1950.
Piazzolla’s Tango Nuevo
Astor Piazzolla became the next tango superstar. He had the vision of tango “for the ear rather than the feet”. He created numerous operas, concertos, theater and film scores. Piazzolla paved the way for a new age of tango to begin.
In 1920s, tango-rocker(tango rock) became popular by such albums as “Homage to Gardel and Le Opera” by Lit to Nubia. The music replaced the standard combination of violins and bass with a rock-style rhythm section including electric guitars and synthesizers. Tango also mixed with jazz led by the Siglo XX trio.
Traditional tango was maintained by the old guard led by the singer Roberto ‘Polaco’ Goyeneche and the pianist Osvaldo Pugliese.
Today, after the long stretch of “the second decadence of tango” (in the 60’s and 70’s), young people have come around and have started to accept the tango around them as being a part of them. The youth realize the tango in their own ways, with their own unique character, mixing Piazzolla with the primitive bands and with flute and guitar, deconstructing and restructuring it. Maybe that is why tango is now again a phenomenon, this resurrection of tango may make the artform more powerfull than ever. The beautiuful city of Buenos Aires remains the world center of the movement.
The Evolution of Tango
The history of the Tango can be traced surprisingly enough to a country dance of 17th Century England. The English country dance became the Contredanse in France, and this in turn was called the Contradanza in Spain or later simply Danza. When imported by the Spaniards into Cuba, it became the Danzahabanera. During the Spanish American War, a popular dance called the Habanera del Cafe appeared which was the prototype of the Tango.
The whole genealogy is presented in the following chronological table:
Country Dance (England, 1650)
Contredanse (France, 1700)
Contradanza (Spain, 1750)
Danza (Spain, 1800)
Danza Habanera (Cuba, 1825)
Habanera (Argentina, 1850)
Habanera del Cafe (Argentina, 1900)
Tango (Argentina, 1910)
(Thank you to Argentina-tango.com: http://www.argentina-tango.com/history.htm)
What is a Tanda or a Cortina
What is a Tanda?
At milongas, the DJ will play music in sets – the tandas – of 3 or 4 songs by the same orchestra from the same period. Generally you will hear 2 sets of 3 tangos, 1 set of 3 valses, 2 sets of 3 tangos, and 1 set of 3 milongas, in repeating cycles. Depending on what milonga you attend (what DJ is playing) you might hear some different music , some stick to only music from orchestra’s that played in the 1930 – 1940, some will mix in some later danceable music (1960s) and others will mix in some newer electronic music as well.
You should use the tanda to your advantage. For example when you hear a Vals tanda coming on you can set your eyes on your favorite Vals partner!
What is a Cortina?
The word Cortina means curtain, or that which conceals or hides something.
A cortina is a short piece (about 30 seconds) of non-tango music that tells the dancers this tanda is over and a new tanda is about to begin. In Buenos Aires everybody leaves the dance floor at that time. Here some people might linger on the floor a little longer with the same partner. However, a Cortina is meant so that you are able to choose who you would want to dance with next and to give your partner a chance to sit down or to dance with somebody else too.
When the Milongas are crowded the tanda’s are a little longer (4 maybe 5 songs) . When a Milonga is not that crowded the music sets are shorter so that the rotation happens a little faster and more people get a chance to dance. This is also the case when there are more women then men present (or the other way around).
Where did the words Tango and Milonga come from?
The brutally captured slaves supplied to South America came principally from the Congo, the tribes of the Gulf of Guinea, and Southern Sudan. In various dialects of these areas, tango meant closed, shut off. The slave trader called tango the gathering places of slaves in both Africa and America. In the Diccionario Provincial de Voces Cubanas (1836), of Estaban Pichardo, tango is defined as “get-together of newly-arrived blacks to dance to drums or kettledrums. In Buenos Aires, tango referred, as early as the early 16th Century, the houses where the African people carried out their dances.” Some documents of the 19th Century used the word tambo instead of tango, which for the newcomers meant drum, the percussion instrument used for those dances. The word mulonga (like its plural, milonga ) is a term of quimbunda origin, of the language spoken by the Angolan people of Brazil, that means word, according to the Diccionario de Vocabulos Brazileiros (Rio de Janeiro, 1889). (From Tango and Milonga: A close relationship, by Gabriela Maurino, www.nytutoring.com/libertango/articles/Tango_Milonga.html , please visit this site for more in depth info)