The Tango - Social roots
The Tango

Social roots

Tango is a cultural phenomenon that has developed in the kernel of a specific society, as a consequence of an amalgamation of experiences and ideologies intertwined in two cities at the banks of the Rive Plate, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

It is the social fusion of what is "criollo" together with the new colonists: the immigrants, who helped to our own idiosyncrasy and ideology as much -or perhaps more- as the Spanish colonization.

In the Preamble of our National Constitution it is clearly stated the good disposition to accept any man whom was willing to inhabit Argentinean ground. However, it has not specified that at that time "the world" meant to be Europe and that the black race was left out of the plan. For this reason no African country was ever granted permission of immigration.

Immigration to Argentina became massive in 1887 and the foreigners summed up half of Buenos Aires population. Housing and lodging became one of the most serious problems ever to be faced in Buenos Aires; out of 33804 houses 2835 were tenement ones which, up to 1870, had been the dwelling place of the Negroes living in the River Plate Basin.

That great immigrant mass of ramblers and dreamers was formed in less than half a century, right in this country's soul. Tango was born in the patios of those "conventillos" and it has become the most authentic product of Argentine identity.

Tango has acquired throughout the years different ways of expressing itself: by means of its music, its songs, and its dance. In its beginnings Tango was played without lyrics, it was only instrumental; then its dance also became to take part in it -it is said that Tango was originally danced by those who were waiting their turn in the brothels. Later, the woman became relevant in the dance and added a touch of sensuality to it.

Tango as a dance also received the contribution of the "Candombe", a dance full of twists danced under the beatings of the drums. The Cuban " Habanera" also provided Tango with all its well known languorous of lovesick and sad desire.

The bodies of the dancers swaying too close together were not socially accepted by the "porteños" of that time; especially by the Church, which obliged the Police Forces to ban Tango due to its constant incitement to scandal. In spite of this, around 1912, Tango orchestras began to travel abroad to conquer the European public, while Buenos Aires society was still looking down on it. A short time later Tango returned glorious to Buenos Aires and soon it became part of the music that has identified this city from the rest of the world.

Tango was first truly presented to Buenos Aires society by the Baron De Marchi in the famous Palais de Glace and ever since then it has popularized itself with gigantic steps.


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