Friday, March 17, 2006

It Takes Two to Tango

Tango is one of the most fascinating dances seen on the ballroom dance floor. Fluctuating between flowing steps and sharp, sassy turns, it mesmerizes spectators and captivates them with its distinctive, rhythmical beat. It has been said that the man who can lead a woman in tango can lead in any dance.

I have always found it interesting that this beautiful dance was originally found in the brothels of South America. During the 1880s, Buenos Aires served as a busy port with immigrants from Europe, Africa and other places around the world pouring into the city. The combination of cultures mixed and intermingled to eventually create a completely new type of music which ultimately became known as the tango.

The music of the tango comes from the unending rhythms of African slaves called 'candombe', who would beat on their drums which were known as tan-go. This meshed with music of the flatlands of South America known as the milonga which was a combination of Indian rhythms and music of early Spanish colonists.

The first tango songs had no lyrics and the movements, usually improvised, were generally considered quite obscene, as the dance itself depicted the relationship between a prostitute and her pimp. Early tangos were hot and lusty, and frequently accompanied by an accordian-like instrument from Germany called a 'bandeon'. This has remained a recognizable element of many tango songs today.

In the early 1900s, the tango began to gain a greater foothold in Argentine society. It became gentler, losing some of its more obscene elements and soon spread to the entire world. When it became quite the rage in Paris, the tango was validated with the French seal of approval and a new attitude of respect was shown for the dance.

While the tango may have been born in the seedier areas of Argentine society, it now commands the admiration and applause of all those entranced by its seductive magic around the world. If you have not yet experienced the sensuality of the tango, I would encourage you to schedule lessons soon. Then consider a 'Tango Tour' to Buenos Aires, where you can find the tango being performed by professionals and amateurs alike and the dancing lasts all night long.