The Dance of the Tango
The exact origins of the Tango dance are not known because it has been influenced by many cultures including European and African cultures. It began in the low class, port areas of Buenos Aires, Argentina where people from many European nations emigrated to in the 1800s in hopes of making a better life for themselves
The dance emerged originally as a dance between two men who were acting out a fight. The tango was literally a form of mortal combat that often ended in a real fight. Conditions were harsh for these men in their working lives and they often sought relief at local bars. Eventually, they would end up in the local bordellos where the women there were taken to dancing the tango with customers who waited in long lines to be with a lady of the evening.
The more refined version of the dance took over in the 1910s where it spread to Europe by wealthy Argentinians who tended to travel to London, Paris and Rome for their yearly holidays. By the 1930s the dance was a worldwide craze.
Argentine tango, as it is often referred to, is a genre of music with quadruple meters. Lyrics to music are usually wistful and somewhat sad. The music is also punctuated by the sound of the ‘Bandoneon‘ which is an instrument not unlike an accordion.
Today’s tango is danced with a male and female with the male providing the leading steps and the female following his in reverse. The movements are done across a dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction. The basic step is known as the ocho cortado.
Tango is said to be less of a dance of the feet and more a dance of the heart. Today’s tango is sophisticated and far removed from its lowly beginnings. It is meant to be danced by anyone in any way they wish to express themselves both emotionally and physically. The dance itself provides good exercise for the mind and the body.
Despite the freedom to be had in dancing the tango, there are certain rules of etiquette that are not to be ignored. It is bad manners to wear too much perfume as that can negatively impact a partner’s concentration. It is also bad manners to dance against the current of other dancers on a dance floor. Tango has regained popularity around the world since the early 1980s.