Tango began in the early 1900’s in Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
Beginning in brothels, like American jazz, it was refined and adopted by middle and upper classes, cleaned up and turned into a respectable music and dance form.
Dance competitions usually contain the tango, a sensual dance with complicated movements and hypnotic music.
In front of one of the cafes near my studio, there is a demonstration of tango with a lady who is much older than her partner. She is dressed in black with net stockings and clipped black hair. The couple move over rough tiles as music plays loudly from a little black speaker.The traditional tango is played by an orchestra that has a piano, two accordions, two violins and a double bass. This recorded music is just violins.
For an entire song, we in the audience watch the pair move in ever widening, and then contracting, circles in front of the restaurant. She makes most of the movements, dipping her shoulder, lifting her knees, tossing back her head, letting the young man lead.
The themes of Tango are unrequited love, betrayal, the passage of time, and death.
A famous local poet, Enrique Discepolo, called tango “the sad thought that is danced.”
Tango came from poor neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and Montevideo where money runs short and emotions run high.
Cutting edge art flows from those who live closest to their emotions and have empty wallets.