History of Tango

Around the late 1870’s, Buenos Aires improvised a new dance – with some similarities to the candombe – which they called a ‘tango’. The compadritos, in a spirit of mockery, took elements of this dance, parodied them, and incorporated them in their own favorite dance of the time, the milonga. It was the milonga that would eventually develop into the tango as we know it today.

The bandoneon, introduced to Argentina from Germany in the late 19th century, is the fundamental instrument of tango groups. This fully developed instrument has 38 buttons for the right hand and 33 for the left. Each button can produce two notes, depending on inflation or deflation of the squeezebox.

As the tango itself matured from its primitive stages, the bailarines, or dancers, would develop new approaches to the music and time.

In the early 20th century, the tango found its way out of the shady cafes and brothels into the more respectable dance halls of Buenos Aires, although the upper classes of the period still strongly disapproved of the dance. After many years, the tango today is the product of many great composers and lyricists that have written pieces that have taken on a life of their own.

Thanks to the talent of tango orchestras, the music grew from the early stages of primitive tangos into the fully developed, richly integrated sounds of the golden eras of the 30s through the early 60s. Due to social and political changes in Argentina, the tango began to fade in popular demand and was almost extinguished for about twenty years. However, thanks to tango’s worldwide popularity, the dance has reemerged again. Today, you can learn about and listen to tango in almost every part of the world.

“The Tango was born as a dance and will die as a dance.”
-Juan Carlos Copes