Buenos Aires (Argentina)
was founded by a Spanish expedition in 1536, then again in
1580. Immigration brought many French, Spanish and Italians
to Buenos Aires as Buenos Aires went on to become a major
city. In 1816 the Waltz
was introduced to Argentina, then came the Polka,
and Cuban rhythms (guajira Flamenca and flamenco) mixed
and the Habanera
was born. The habanera came from Havana, Cuba
and made its way thru Andalusa, Spain to Argentina in the
early 19th century. The Habanera, Andalusan
and the Polka rhythms merged with a splice of Indian
rhythms (3/8, 5/8, 6/8, 9/8) played a part in the Argentine
dance known as the "Milonga."
The Andalusan women would originally dance this dance with
each other, usually as a solo dance.
The Milonga originated as a song with a lively
tempo. The tempo was quieted down and dance steps were added
to it, making the Milonga the first known tango
(but not yet named as such) and was very popular
by mid 1840s. (Milonga's can be quite fast in tempo and
are very popular today.) The name Tango came to be used
sometime around 1860 or 1870, (but didn't really gain world
wide notice till about 1900.)
There have been writings of the African-Argentines
adding some movement to the Milonga (Mondonga Tango,) however
it is reported that they did this dance separately and not
couple-up (similar to the Andalusian's) while the compaditos
who danced with them brought this tango back to town and started
adding it to their Milonga's and the two dances merged. These
African-Argentines called the dance the Tango (most likely,
the general public through those magazine/ newspaper writings
of the time confused the Habanera with the Tango and with
all the bad press of the time linked to these dances, started
calling all versions "the tango" ... similar
misnaming as to the Hustle.) There is some history of
Spanish roots as well, with many times being called the Spanish
Nobody really knows what the word "tango"
means, but some suggest it to mean: a "closed place"
or "reserved ground." Or it may be from the Portuguese
word tangere (to touch!) There are also cities
in Angola and Mali (Africa) named Tango!. Some say
it is just the sound of the drum emitting "tan-go!"
sound ... so wherever the word comes from, the tango was
here to stay.
The main musical instruments used were the Bandoneon
and Guitar. The bandoneon was introduced to Argentina in the
late 19th century from Germany and the guitar came from Spain.
By the 1920's the tango (Argentine) was the only version
left standing in Buenos Aires.
The Castles are said
to have introduced the Tango as a ballroom dance here in the
United States, however it was most likely Maurice
Mouvet with his "Tango American" or FRANCES
DEMAREST AND JOSEPH C. SMITH. (some writings credit Smith.)
Although Charles Durang had written about the Tango as far
back as 1857 predating both. The violent knee-dipping and
strenuous body-twisting that were originally associated with
the American Tango were eventually removed. Rudolph
Valentino would later confuse the public even more with
his Apache Dance version of the dance (It has been reported,
many times that Rudy, never knew the dance called the Tango,
only the Apache.)
The dancing public followed Mouvet
and the Castles
in their invention of dances and innovations, and they made
a few, but the Tango was not one of them ... THEY ONLY ADDED
VARIATIONS to the DANCE. Many variations of tangos have come
and gone such as the Yale Tango (American),
Newman Tango, Bresilien Tango,
Castle's Open Tango, Maurice Tango,
French Tango, Tango American, La
Rumba and many more. These are basically just different
styles or moves of the tango done by a performer trying to
gain fame in their dansants and Teas as an innovator.
When the tango hit Paris (1912,) it became
all the rage throughout the world!. In Paris, a Parisian dance
Instructor named Robert, was said to have standardized the
French version. Another offshoot of the tango which had a lot
of popularity in the early 1900's in France and the U.S. was
dance which many people unmistakably called the Tango!.
Carlos Gardel (1890-1935) is known to help make the Tango
popular to the masses with his Tango compositions that made
the dance accepted thru its music to the masses. Argentine
Tango can still be danced at a few night clubs around town
in the States and is still danced heavily in Buenos Aires
The American and International Style tango (ballroom
versions) has some similarities to the original but are
very few and are a very subdued OR modified version of the
original Argentine Tango!. This probably stems from the Ragtime
era , the Apache
Step (or Castle
Walk ) merging and bastardizing the dance, as well as
un-educated dance instructors of the time. A few of the better
known teachers who wrote their dance treatise, would make
note of the differences of the real (argentine) and One-Step
versions being passed around as the original.
Many people confused the One
Step dance back in the day, as, many dance teachers, trying
to cash in on the market, and not knowing the real (Argentine)
tango, used the One Step as a base, just like the Castles
(probably because of the Gaucho Walk in Tango.) Most
of the teachers back then thought of the original tango as
just a certain way to walk while doing the one-step, ("The
Tango Walk"... Spanish, el Paseo; French, le Promenade)
is used as a variety to figures as most dances back then were
basic walking dances. They would describe the real Tango Step
as; "the brushing or sweeping of the toe to the floor,
which occurs in all figures of the Tango."
The ridiculous looking Head
Snaps one sees in "Today's ballroom dance versions"
is a play on the history of the Gaucho (Cowboy) and
his partner (they didn't smell to well,) thus portraying
getting a whiff and quickly turning the head away!, these
Head Snaps were in Durang's
description of the tango in 1857. The Ballroom Tango
(today) along with East Coast Swing and Jive were bastardized
versions of their originals, However, they were sold to the
public as the real thing ... en masse!.
Notes: in 1925 Mr. Scott Atkinson and Dorothy Cole won the
"World Tango Championships." In 1913 the "Tango-Visite"
was introduced, which was a dress style for dancing with a
transparent bodice and a mid-calf skirt length (Vanity
from Albert Newman's Book in 1913
This is perhaps the most difficult Tango, and consists of
the thirteen steps described here, the Spanish and French
names being given. These steps are executed in the order that
pleases the gentleman, repeating each as often as he wishes:
(1) El Paseo (la promenade), (2) El Marcha (la marche), (3)
El Media Corte (le demi coupé), (4) El Corte (le coupé),
(5) La Media Luna (la demi-une), (6) El Chassé (la chassé),
(7) El Cruzado (les croises), (8) El Ocho-Argentino (le huit
argentin), (9) El Rueda (la roue), (10) El Frottado (le frotté),
(11) El Abanico (léventail), (12) El Molinette (le moulinet),
(13) El Vigne.
is a slow walk, consisting of one step to each measure.
is a walk taking two steps to one measure or a step to each
beat. El Paseo and El Marcha are often performed together.
El Media Corte:
and El Corte are stop steps and closely related. El Corte
is described in the Parisienne Tango.
La Media Luna:
is a combination of the first two beats of Media Corte for
the man and the last two beats for the lady.
is a step forward on inside foot (1), and a Two-Step (2) (x)
and a step forward on outside foot (3). The rhythm is rather
puzzling, but should not confuse the pupil. This step is repeated.
is the Scissors Step (Las Tijeras or Le Ciseaux); it is similar
to a Pas de Bourrée. There is a one-step Cruzado and
El Ocho Argentino:
(the argentine eight) is also called a Cross Step. color=Foot
pattern draws figure 8.
literally rubbing or polishing, is so named from the similarity
of the step to the action of polishing the floor.
(the fan) is very similar to the Ocho Argentino.
(the grape vine) crossing one foot over the other.
He goes on to state: "Argentine Tango is more intended
for professional use and can hardly be found practical for
La Leçon de tango