BPATS | Resources - A Short history of the Tango

Tango is more than an erect position and the precision of intertwining of legs.
It speaks of poetry, love, music and dance. It's a way of life, for the Milongueros,
its more than a passion, its an obsession. Lets begin your journey.

Tango Basic Facts

  • Tango developed in the 19th century among the immigrants who reached Argentina
    from Europe and Africa
  • The music and dance steps combine African influence with rural Argentine traditions
    which in turn reflect both Spanish and native South American origins
  • Tango was first danced in Europe during the first decade of the 20th century
  • It probably reached France, first through the port of Marseille, where Argentine sailors
    would dance with the local girls
  • The fall of the military junta in Argentina in 1983 began a tango renaissance in Buenos Aires

Musical Fusion

Tango is the history of the immigrants who populates the city of Buenos Aires (BA) and Montevideo in the
beginning of the 20th Century

Between 1865 and 1914 the population of BA swell from 150,000 to 1.5 million. The immigrants came
from Europe, mostly from Italy and settled in the slums, tenements and red light districts.

This later gave rise to a unique musical fusion, the Black African population gave Tango the vibrant rhythm
and the close proximity of the bodies in the dance, the Jewish settlers added the violin, German immigrants
brought the Bandoneon (the unmistaken sound of tango) the Italians provided the haunting melody of Sicily,
the Spanish added a heady mix of mournful and joyful intensity of Andalusia Tango.


Soul of the Tango

Tango is more than complex acrobats, seemless coupling of the dancers,Speedy inter mingling
of the legs. Basically ,Tango is a lifestyle, a different way to see the world


A Private Language and A unique form of conversation

The people who really lived and dance tango have little in common with those people we have been
portrayed in movies and shows. First and foremost, If you truly love tango, you dance it for yourself and
for your partner, and not for others.

Its a private and intimate conversation that you have with a friend, acquaintance, complete stranger,
lover, wife, husband. It's a unique form of conversation because it is non verbal.

When you enter a tango dance hall (milonga), you are actually entering a time zone and a parallel
world in which the music you hear from the loudspeakers is usually from old and scratchy records
from the 1930s and forties. People dance slowly and carefully, like their life depended on the
concentration and intensity with which they move every muscle and yet everyone is totally relaxed.
Movements are very easy, many have their eyes closed, and dance close in a space that is sacred
.. reserved only for dancers.


Code of Conduct

The rule of the dance is complex and takes years to master but there are a number of other rules that
apply to the dance halls or milongas, for example, a man never walks up to a woman and ask her to
dance. There are more subtle ways to do this.

He scans the room with his eyes and when a woman is interested, she will look back and only when
their eyes have met and the two prospective dance partner have acknowledgement their consent by
nodding slightly will the man walk to the woman and ask her to dance.

The code of tango is carefully guided by the milongueros. But the only rule, the rule that can't be
broken is that you let your heart grow every movement, in other words, you have to feel first and
then move your feet and dance, the move... confirm the expression of how you feel
......otherwise you are not dancing tango. More details about tango social etiquette