Tango Argentino

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Tango Argentino
Technology: unspecified
Type: Ballroom dancing , ballroom dancing , ballroom dancing (rare)
Music: Tango , Tango Vals , Milonga
Time signature : 48 , 24 or 34 cycles
Tempo: 30 TPM
Origin: Río de la Plata - Argentina - Uruguay
Creation time: ~ 1880
List of dances
A couple dancing in the streets of Buenos Aires

The general term tango is understood to mean both dance and the tango music genre . Tango has also produced independent forms of expression in poetry and song . Since the end of the 19th century, tango has spread throughout the world in various forms from Buenos Aires . To distinguish it from the (sometimes called European Tango) standard tango of the world dance program , the more original (less regulated) form of dance and the associated music is called Tango Argentino worldwide . In Argentina itself, the name is not common, where people usually speak of tango . Tango has been part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since September 2009 .

origin of the name

The origin of the name tango is unclear and controversial. It is mentioned for the first time in a dictionary, in the Diccionario provincial de voces cubanas by Esteban Pichardo from 1836. There the meaning is given: “Assembly of negroes who have just arrived from Africa, where they can hear their drums and timpani dance. ”The drum is rarely used in tango, but it is often used in candombe, which is related to tango . On the Canary Island of El Hierro there was a dance called Tango after J. Corominas' Breve diccionario . Since the Canary Islands were under strong Portuguese influence for a long time , the term could be derived from the Portuguese word tanger (to touch, to play an instrument), which in turn is derived from the Latin verb tangere ( tango = I touch ). The Portuguese influence also explains the name tango andaluz from the 19th century. There is a theory that the term could be derived from tambo (from Quechua tampu ). Its meaning ranged from inn to brothel or "noisy black party" in the Rioplatensian language . So there was a protest against los tangos de los negros in Montevideo in 1808 , which the viceroy was supposed to put a stop to. The art critic Vicente Rossi writes that a tocá tango meant meeting for candombe. However, the term tango was first applied to couple dances in Europe. Until the 1920s, various dances were given this suffix.


Buenos Aires 1888

Immigrants' social situation

The story of Tango Argentino begins on the Río de la Plata . At the end of the 19th century, the most diverse peoples and cultures met in the greater Buenos Aires and Montevideo areas . Driven by economic hardship in their home countries and attracted by a large-scale immigration program by the Argentine government, around 6 million newcomers reached the port cities on the lower reaches of the Río de la Plata between 1880 and 1930 alone . The largest number of immigrants from the ancient world came from southern Europe, such as Spain and Italy , but Jewish immigrants were also numerous. Another large population group were the African slaves (mostly kidnapped by English traders).

When the land reform planned by the Argentine government failed due to resistance from the large landowners, the demographic structure deteriorated . In addition to the immigrants who had not been able to gain a foothold in the hinterland and who therefore returned to the port cities, there were also thousands upon thousands of unemployed peons (farm workers) and gauchos from the pampas . The fast-growing cities could hardly accommodate these streams of people in their tenements . There was unemployment and misery. In addition, there was a noticeable shortage of women, which encouraged prostitution and girl trafficking (mainly from Eastern Europe). The people who had emigrated to South America full of hope now no longer had any prospects.

The birth of the tango

Title page of the score by El Entreriano

The musical elements that contributed to the creation of Tango Argentino are diverse. A “primordial tango” has not been handed down and so “... the attempt was made to make up for the deficiency with hypotheses on the basis of some circumstantial evidence or other hypotheses.”

Anselmo Rosendo Mendizábal, the composer of the first piece of music known as Tango

Although the Afro-American elements in the rhythm and choreography of tango are barely recognizable, the candombe of the Creoles and Africans was an important influence. Originally, the candombe was a cultic dance pantomime in which elements of African religions and Catholic worship of saints merged. After the cultic content disappeared more and more, it appeared from 1870 between Christmas and Epiphany or as a carnival parade . However, as there were supposed to be bloody brawls during the street festivals of the Africans, they were soon banned by the authorities. The dancers countered the ban by founding dance halls. Even if the dances differed greatly from the tango in its later form, the Tango Argentino originated in such locations.

Another important influence is the habanera , which is sometimes called Tango Americano . Its creation is scheduled to be around 1825 in Cuba and by 1850 it had achieved great popularity in Spain. An example of a habanera that is still popular today is the aria of the same name in the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet . She reached the Río de la Plata by way of Paris , because the better society imitated everything that was popular in France.

The influence of Central European immigrants is also not insignificant. From Poland came Mazurka and from Bohemia , the polka . Not only the bandoneon (later the most typical instrument for tango) was added from Germany. As a dance, the waltz and the landlord with its twists were brought back from here .

Another, not quite so obvious contribution (from the 1870s onwards) comes from the maxixe , the so-called Brazilian tango, which has essentially the same origins as the Argentine one. It is considered the first urban fashion dance in Brazil.

From this conglomeration of urban music and dances, mixed with the rural payadas of the gauchos, the urban milonga was born . Around 1880 people began dancing to this music in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Later, the light, happy songs of the milonga slowed down to the more serious tango. Vicente Rossi saw the tango as a milonga with cortes y quebradas (“with cuts and breaks” ), i. H. with breaks and poses - without the continuous flow of the milonga!

The flute , violin and guitar were initially the standard instruments used by musicians who roamed the bars, dance halls and streets . Later, the piano and bandoneón established themselves as typical tango instruments. In the port districts, the barrios (city districts) and the Arrabales (suburban areas), in an environment of unemployment , petty crime and prostitution, the tango became an expression of existential need and human loneliness of the Porteño (Spanish: port city dwellers - that's what they call themselves Residents of Buenos Aires themselves).

The first published score , known as Tango for piano , is entitled El Entreriano and was written by Anselmo Rosendo Mendizábal .

La Guardia Vieja: Tango is becoming socially acceptable

Record labels from the
Guardia Vieja era

The period between 1880 and 1917 is known as the Guardia Vieja ( Old Guard ) era . Hardly any biographical details are known of the 30 or so well-known musicians of this time. Most of them came from very poor immigrant families and were able to make a modest living through their music. The most representative figure is Angel Gregorio Villoldo , a real Criollo (these are the inhabitants of Argentina before the great waves of immigration, see also Creoles ). He had worked as a carter and in slaughterhouses, and later became a circus clown and journalist . The vernacular gave him the honorary title El papá del tango criollo . He was a singer and guitarist and played a harmonica attached to a rack . He soon recognized the possibilities of the new media records , film and radio , which contributed significantly to the success of tango. His most famous piece, with the ambiguous title El choclo ( The Corn Cob ), dates back to 1903 and was released on record shortly afterwards. In 1907 he took Alfredo Gobbi and his wife on a trip to Paris, where he made sound recordings for the Argentine company Gath y Chaves . The Gobbis stayed in Paris, published numerous tangos there and founded a dance school in which they taught the new dance.

Title of the score of one of the most popular tangos to date: El Choclo

As early as 1890, the tango had become an integral part of popular culture on the Río de la Plata. But in the upper class, due to its origin in the immigrant quarters and brothels, it was still considered an expression of depravity, ambiguity and hopelessness. He was ignored or discredited by conservative journalists and parts of the upper class. The majority of the population was not bothered by this, however, and flocked to the milongas (the dance events).

At the beginning the dance was a coordinated walk. The woman was hugged by her partner with one arm raised very high, her faces, legs and body pressed tightly together. The arm position was vertical (ie "choclio"), the man's right arm held the woman's shoulder tightly. From 1895 the dance posture changed and the posture of the “blacks” was adopted: the man's left hand against the leg, the woman's waist with the right arm and no longer the shoulders. As a dance, the tango remained the same. With the development of all of the emerging dance figures, however, it became necessary to keep the body apart from the waist down and to allow the legs to move freely. In every quarter there were dancers who made the epoch. An example is Casimiro Aín around 1900. Pope Pius X had intervened and called the tango sinful and forbade the believers. Casimiro Aín traveled to Europe and managed to dance with an embassy secretary in front of the Holy See and to persuade the Pope to withdraw the decree. Another famous dancer from 1910 on was Benito Bianquet, called El Cachafáz .

Shortly before the First World War , tango finally made the leap across the Atlantic to the salons and bars of Paris. There he advanced to a successful fashion dance, so that some orchestras from the Río de la Plata in the Old World were able to celebrate successes. Since Paris was the ultimate in elegance at that time , the tango also became known and loved in the rest of Europe. With the acceptance in Paris, which was also considered a fashion model at La Plata, the tango was also accepted by the upper class of Argentine and Uruguayan society, and the tango de salón developed .

“For the tango no people exist as an abstract unity or as an ideal. Tango only knows people made of flesh and blood. "

In order to adapt the "lewd" dance from the South American suburbs to the movement concepts of the European dance hall, English dance teachers and choreographers developed the European standard dance Tango . Today he is as ballroom dancing to the competition dances . Other forms of tango dance were also developed (but could not prevail): Maurice Tango , Santley Tango and two different "Tango Argentinos", one of which came from New York.

La Guardia Nueva and the Tango Canción

Benito Bianquet “El Cachafáz” and Carmen Calderón

The 1916 presidential elections brought Radical Civil Rights Reform (UCR) representative Hipólito Yrigoyen to power in Argentina. For the majority of the population, his accession to power marked the end of an era of social injustice and political arbitrariness. Yrigoyen was almost a political myth among the people and was considered a person with moral integrity, even if almost all legislative projects that he had introduced in Congress failed.

Tango also changed and a new generation of musicians, the Guardia Nueva , changed tango. They were exclusively professional musicians and accordingly had achieved a high level of technical ability and artistic expression. With the era of the Guardia Nueva , tango reached its classical form as an art form with music, dance and text. Eduardo Arolas , who was called the tiger of the bandoneon, fundamentally renewed the playing of the bandoneon. Although he could not read music, he was also of paramount importance as a composer. His piece Noche de Garufa is still part of the standard repertoire of every tango musician and every Orquesta típica s. Arolas died in Paris in 1924 at the age of only 32. Allegedly he was stabbed to death by a pimp .

"Anyone who danced had a job, he wasn't a drift."

Not all famous dancers became professionals, but those who had achieved prestige in dance competitions were followed by the tango enthusiasts to the dance halls they visited. Many of the legendary dancers have hosted their own milonga , usually associated with their own dance school. Style- shaping dancers of this era were Bernardo Undarz (El Mocho) , Carmen Calderón , José Giambuzzi (El Tarila) or Negro Alfredo , who often worked in their profession well into old age.

Carlos Gardel

Around 1917, when Carlos Gardel took Mi Noche drab , the era of the tango song began. The piece with the music by Samuel Castriota and the text by Pascual Contursi is considered the first classical Tango Canción . The sung tango with its clear (and also socially critical) lyrics became more and more important for the general public. The upper class liked to hire the best tango orchestras for exclusive salon events, but only on the condition that they behave impeccably and not sing any tango texts. But the audience's favorites were singers throughout the 1920s. Gardel's death in an accident in 1935 was a nationwide shock. The cult around the singer, nicknamed Zorzal (the blackbird), El Mago (the magician) and finally El Mudo (the mute) is still honored in Argentina and Uruguay.

The texts of the Tango Canción are occasionally written in Lunfardo , the Argentine-Uruguayan crook and colloquial language. The subject matter of the tango texts, often written by renowned librettists, largely follows fixed rules. The lover, abandoned by his beloved, who wants to forget his Weltschmerz with alcohol and gambling or with his mother, is sung about. The young woman, who never ages, is usually the determining figure, the emotionally and / or financially ruined man the victim - although there were always female singers for whom texts were written from the other perspective. Nonetheless, the interest of many tango poets in images of women that come from prostitution and their male counterparts from the pimp milieu is striking.

The Lunfardo is a technical vocabulary like many others, is the technology of the stranglehold from behind (furca) and the lockpick (Ganzúa). "

Tangos that were socially critical or political did not become hits; the common people identified with the heroes they were singing about and demanded a romantic-fatalistic theme - and so the development remained fairly uniform.

The golden age of tango

Argentina had not really solved any of its economic and political problems by the end of the 1930s, but external circumstances meanwhile helped the country to flourish. The country supplied meat and grain for Europe, which was ravaged by World War II, and as a result experienced the greatest economic boom in its history and became the richest country on the American subcontinent. From 1946 to 1955, Juan Perón ruled in his first term. The Peronist party Partido Laborista (Workers' Party) was elected with a majority of 56% of the vote.

Carnival event in the 1930s

The period between 1935 and 1955 is known as the golden age of tango. People had enough money to have fun on weekends, and new tango orchestras were springing up in every neighborhood. The radio had reached every household, and radio stations such as Radio Belgrano , Radio Splendid and Radio El Mundo broadcast regular tango programs with dedicated orchestras. Around 1935 Juan D'Arienzo and his orchestra introduced tango music that was strongly rhythmic and no longer so playful, which was easy to dance, and helped the tango to spread further. He was therefore also called Rey del compas (king of rhythm).

The dance events got bigger and bigger, and to meet the acoustic requirements of the dance halls, the tango ensembles got bigger and bigger. The former Sexteto Típico became the Orquesta Típica with four or five bandoneons, several violins, viola , cello , piano and double bass . In these orchestras with up to 100 musicians, however, the singers hardly had any space. The musical quality of the orchestras of Carlos Di Sarli , Aníbal Troilo or Osvaldo Pugliese was of the highest level, and the music of that time is still the basis of every milonga today. It was the heyday of the Tango de Salón .

You used to dance steps. A step is a static figure. For example the Rueca , an old step. Some guy invented the rueca , he started showing it at the milonga , and the whole world wanted to imitate it. Since the 1940s, however, the dancers have been improvising, they begin to dance forms that then mix. "

- Mingo Pugliese

The dancers of the Golden Age developed the figures and twists as they are danced to this day: Voleos , Ganchos , Ochos , Quebradas and many more. Famous names are José Orradre ( El Vasquito ) and Carlos Alberto Estévez ( Petróleo ). Pepito Avellaneda and Suzuki , Jorge and Mary Márquez , or Juan Carlos Copez and Maria Nieves, for example, began their careers as dance couples during this time . From 1948 Mingo and Esther Pugliese began to appear in public.

In the early 1950s, other styles of music became popular. The teenagers listened as all over the world prefer to rock 'n' roll and later beat - or rock music . When Perón was overthrown by the military in 1955 , the big orchestras finally went downhill because the government had promoted and supported Argentine culture through grants, laws and quotations . When the cultural protectionist ramparts fell, it became clear that many Argentines were no longer interested in tango. But it was precisely this social disinterest that made tango now seem interesting to many left-wing intellectuals. In the context of increasing social polarization, they saw in him an excellent political resource to practice general cultural criticism.

Astor Piazzolla and the Tango Nuevo

Astor Piazzolla in 1971

Astor Piazzolla (born in Mar del Plata in 1921 and lived in New York from the age of four to eight) initially had a greater interest in jazz and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach than in tango. It was only Carlos Gardel who enabled the thirteen-year-old boy (when he made him his English interpreter) to have closer contact with the music of his homeland. At the age of seventeen he already had a permanent engagement as a bandoneonist in the orchestra of Aníbal Troilo. His music is influenced by both jazz (see the album Summit ) and classical music. He expanded his orchestra to include drums and electric guitar. His tango polarized musicians, the press and the public and was initially considered not danceable in orthodox tango circles. Piazzolla was openly attacked on the street in Buenos Aires. This even resulted in him leaving Argentina for some time. When he returned to his homeland in 1960, the tango was almost extinct there. With his Tango Nuevo he became a great innovator and global representative of the music from the Rio de la Plata for the next few decades.

In the 1970s, South America was hit by a series of brutal military coups, beginning in 1973 in Uruguay and Chile, then in Argentina in 1976. Thousands of people, like Piazzolla, fled to Europe to avoid prison, torture and death. In exile, the search for suitable forms of expression for her suffering and grief began. For Uruguayans and Argentines, it was tango again. In 1981 they created their stage in Paris: The Trottoirs de Buenos Aires . From here the tango conquered Europe again.

I've worked for tango all my life, now I hope tango works for me. It wasn't until I was sixty that I started making money. I'm almost seventy now and have big plans. "

- Astor Piazzolla in 1991

From the Guardia Joven to the electric tango

Show Tango Pasión in Düsseldorf

Astor Piazzolla's new concert tango as an avant-garde continuation of the Argentine roots aroused interest in the original music (first in Europe, later also in North America and Japan). Piazzolla's complex music and Tango Nuevo is more suitable for choreographies on the big stage than for the dance hall. As a commission for the Festival d'Automne , Claudio Segovia and Héctor Orezzoli produced the stage show Tango Argentino in Paris in 1983 . It was only since the presentation in Venice in 1984 that dance became of central importance. Some of the most renowned tango dancers of the time such as Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves , Mayoral and Elsa Maria , Gloria and Eduardo , Monica and Luciano , Nélida and Nelson , Norma and Luis Pereyra or Virulazo and Elvira were there. For the first time in many years there was again an authentic, non-folkloric tango performance outside of Argentina. The show was so successful that the ensemble toured the world for seven years afterwards. As a follow-up project, Tango Pasión with the same musicians and similarly successfully started in Europe . In the US, production was Forever Tango by Luis Bravo . In 1999 Tango Argentino was played again for two months on Broadway , and in 2010 it was performed at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires as part of a festival. Interestingly, 90 percent of all dancers at these renowned shows Tango Pasión , Tango Argentino and Forever Tango had a solid background, if not their origins as dancers of Argentine folklore, even though they performed as pure tango dancers.

Stimulated by the success of the shows, the first tango dance schools were set up again in Berlin and Amsterdam , which sparked a new European dance enthusiasm for the original tango and supported his return to the Río de la Plata.

Bajofondo Tango Club at TFF.Rudolstadt

From 1984 tango in Buenos Aires began to leave its shadowy existence. The more “classical” tango-oriented music was summarized under the term Guardia Joven (Young Guard). Rock musicians such as León Gieco and Fito Páez , who are approaching tango and performing together with tango legends such as Roberto Goyeneche and Osvaldo Pugliese , played an important role .

From the 1990s, tango mixed with other musical styles. Many new ensembles, composers and singers emerged who merged the music on the Rio de la Plata with pop, rock, jazz, Latin and electronic music. This is how forms such as the Tango-Mestizo , La Chicana , Melingo or Cubatango and the Electrotango came about. A predominant style, however, can hardly be made out. For example, the spectrum ranges from the club-compatible sounds of Gotan Project and Bajofondo Tango Club to the sampled music quotations from Otros Aires .

Since the end of the 90s until today, young dancers have been shaped by ballet , modern dance , jazz dance and acrobatics . These non-Argentine influences remove Tango Argentino from its national origins and change it in a globalizing way.

Tango as an economic factor in Argentina

In Argentina in the 1990s, which was hard hit and plagued by inflation , numerous young musicians and dancers recognized the economic potential of tango tourists and devoted themselves increasingly to tango. In the meantime there is a wide range of milongas and dance shows on the Rio de la Plata . A study by the Buenos Aires Government Observatory of Cultural Industries puts the amount that was directly generated by tango in 2006 at around 135 million arg $ , 75% of which came from foreign dance enthusiasts. If the costs for transport, accommodation and food are included, then, according to economic researcher Jorge Marchini, three times the sum mentioned can be assumed. Around 150,000 people regularly take tango lessons in Buenos Aires. Marchini assumes 300 milongas at 120 different locations with around 35,000 weekly visitors. Other areas of the Argentine economy also benefited from the development, such as the manufacture and worldwide sale of dance shoes on the Internet. Between 2006 and 2008, 95% of sales were generated here with foreign customers.

The Tango Argentino worldwide


The Bethanien at Mariannenplatz in Berlin

After the legendary first boom of tango at the beginning of the 20th century, Tango Argentino has experienced a new, worldwide popularity since the 80s. One of the possible causes appears to be the political situation in the countries of origin a few years earlier, when up to a third of the population had to leave their country with the military coup in Uruguay (1973) and Argentina (1976). In exile, the Argentines and Uruguayans, who were robbed of their homeland, also revived their tango culture. In 1981 the Trottoirs de Buenos Aires opened in Paris , in which famous tango musicians could perform for many years, and in 1982 tango also gained a foothold in Berlin.

On the occasion of the Horizonte Festival of World Cultures with a focus on Latin America, the organizers, Astor Piazzolla and Juan José Mosalini , invited the two important representatives of Tango Nuevo to the Philharmonie , while in Paris the Sexteto Mayor , representative of “classical” tango, took the stage. In connection with the concerts, the Berlin Künstlerhaus Bethanien organized the exhibition Melancholie der Vorstadt: Tango and published an extensive catalog with the assistance of Juan D. Lange . Inspired by Daniel Zelaya and Juan Carlos Castaldi's Tango Palace in Bethanien , Lange opened the Tango Bar in the Metropol Theater shortly afterwards and, in 1985, his own dance school, the Estudio Sudamerica . Even though Angelika Fischer and Brigitte Winkler had already opened a dance school in Berlin a year earlier, the self-taught Lange was the pioneer of the tango scene in Germany and practiced “his own ideas of salon dance even without direct role models from Buenos Aires. All of the first teachers in Berlin were more or less self-taught ”( Juan D. Lange : Tango Danza 1,2003 ). In the beginning, stage dancers in Germany almost exclusively taught the style required by dance students: “stage tango”. Interest in the Tango de Salón only started later. Among the first and most influential guest teachers at the beginning of the tango boom in Germany were Antonio Todaro , Gustavo Naveira, Pepito Avellaneda, Ricardo y Nicole, now known as Nicole Nau , and according to Jost Budde also Pablo Verón.

One of the most important contemporary Argentine tango composers, Luis Borda , has lived in Germany since 1996. He wrote the music for the documentary film 12 Tangos , in which filmmaker and author Arne Birkenstock wrote the stories of some tangueros, shaped by the economic crisis, with the music of an all-star orchestra (Libertella, Borda, Sobral and many others) at a tango ball in the legendary La Catedral connects Buenos Aires. The film was a surprise success in Germany and Japan.

Ralf Sartori , tango teacher since 1992 and author of five books on tango rioplatense, examines the philosophy of tango with "Tango, the unifying force of dancing eros" and "Tango: The essence" by explaining it on the basis of its technique and history. He also wrote the tango textbook: Tango - Dance of Hearts

In the first quarter of 2008 the calendar of events of the German tango magazine Tango Danza contained around 110 cities with regular dance lessons and around 80 events with live music.


A tango scene developed particularly in the big cities such as Vienna, Graz, Linz and Salzburg as well as in the south (Klagenfurt, Villach, Feldkirchen) and west of Austria in Innsbruck and Feldkirch . The “Tango Otoño” festival was held in Innsbruck for the first time in 2009. From 2010 to 2014 an annual international festival "Tango Amadeus" took place in Vienna. A festival has been held in Feldkirchen every 2 years since 2016.


Under the name of Finnish tango , tango achieved lasting popularity, especially in this northern European country . Rather skeptical of the European tango boom before the First World War, the first Finnish tango composition Tanko laulu (Tango song) by Iivari Kainulainen dates from 1915 and was a parody . Various Finnish composers such as Toivo Kärki and Unto Mononen wrote tango evergreens, initially under Argentinian-sounding pseudonyms, later, after the first successes, under their real names. During the first two decades, the Finnish tango followed the German “confectionery tango” rather than the Argentine pattern, but in the end it hit the nerve of the Finns, who often prefer sentimental music in the minor key. After the Second World War, Finnish tango became a genre of its own and real folk music. According to Toivo Kärki, the Finnish tango primarily combines two elements: the Russian romance and the German march. An annual tango festival takes place in the city of Seinäjoki , at which a tango royal couple is chosen from among the best singers. This will receive free entry to the milongas throughout Finland in the following year.


The history of tango in Japan is linked to the name of Baron Tsunami Megata, a member of the imperial court. Baron Megata traveled to Paris in 1920, where he wanted to undergo cosmetic surgery on his nose. On this occasion he learned to dance tango. When he returned to his homeland in 1926, he brought French recordings with him to Japan and began giving free vals, foxtrot and tango lessons to the aristocracy . After a short time only the interest in tango remained. In collaboration with the record company Víctor , he took care of the first Japanese releases of the Orquesta Típica Víctor and began to import the latest releases from Argentina every month. Tango was very popular in Japan until the early 1960s and numerous tango orchestras visited the country on their tours. With the success of the great tango shows from the 1980s onwards, the tango boom reached Asia again, and "Asian championships" are now held every spring in stage and salon tango.


From 1911 the tango at the court of Nicholas II can be proven: Two nephews of the tsar had got into an incident in a St. Petersburg nightclub because of a "new, unsettling dance". The tsar then had his nephews demonstrate this dance, called Tango Argentino, and was quite taken with it. In 1913, the tango had spread so widely in the Russian metropolis that the magazine Argos devoted an article to it (with the title All World Dances Tango ). Even after the October Revolution , the tango was one of the most popular dances in the new Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s . One of his most famous composers was Oscar Strock ; Pyotr Konstantinowitsch Leschchenko (the "King of Russian Tango") was its most famous singer. After the Second World War, however, those in power regarded the tango as undesirable.

With a delay of several years compared to the West, the big tango shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg sparked a new tango enthusiasm here too. An annual tango festival has been held in Moscow since 2003, and dance schools have also been opened in Samara , Rostov , Yekaterinburg and Irkutsk .


Tango also took root early on in Turkey - recordings by the singer Ibrahim Özgür from the late 1930s are an example. After a break-in, there has been more dancing again since 1990 and festivals take place (e.g. in Istanbul ).

Europe in general

Since the turn of the millennium, a pronounced culture of social tango has developed in Europe, which does without lavish shows and live music and which particularly attracts more advanced dancers. The most important people at these events are tango DJs of national or international reputation, as well as the organizers, who give the events a very personal setting with a certain philosophy. Communication and advertising take place almost exclusively on the Internet, be it via specially created sites or Facebook. Advertising through advertisements in tango magazines or through brochures / leaflets is hardly necessary any more, since the majority of the dancers are closely networked and known personally. In addition to the local or regional milongas, two typical event forms have emerged that often appeal to a very international audience of aficionados :

  • Tango Marathons: One to multi-day events where there is almost non-stop dancing. These events often attract a younger audience who want to dance away from the "rules" in a relaxed atmosphere. The social aspect is emphasized through communal, informal dining and often through accommodation at the venue. Leading and following are usually present in equal numbers and all participants book the entire event. Although nowadays (2017) most of these events dance to traditional music, it can also be more experimental. H. the movements may be a bit more expansive and the music more modern.
  • Encuentros & Festivalitos Milongueros: Usually 3 to 4 day events that consist of individual milongas (tango salons). As with the marathons, all participants book the entire event, not just individual milongas. Events for milongueros are aimed at those who want to dance to traditional tango music in close embrace and prefer the framework of binding guidelines: prompting through eye contact, leaving the dance floor after a tanda , adhering to and respecting the ronda and others. The average age of the Encuentro visitors is often a little higher than that of a typical marathon, but here too you can find more and more younger people. There are various overview pages on which interested parties can find information about such events. The first event of this kind took place in Italy, near Florence : the Raduno Milonguero in Impruneta in 2005. The first German event of this kind was the Festivalito con Amigos in Saarbrücken , organized by the Tangokombinat .

Tango as a dance

In contrast to the precisely defined figures of standard dance, the Tango Argentino only has a fixed choreography as a stage tango. Strictly speaking, the “figures” of Argentine Tango are different step elements, twists and techniques that can be combined with one another in any way. As in earlier times, today's dancers and dance teachers try to develop their dance further and to enrich it with new elements, whereby actually it is not the variation of the elements that is important, but a good feeling while dancing. This can be achieved through clean technology. Since a lot of dance knowledge and skill was suppressed in the military dictatorship, the main focus in the 1980s and 1990s was on the redevelopment of posture work; In recent years, on this basis, more emphasis has been placed on interesting and challenging techniques in the dance avant-garde. In general, improvisation and a continuous flow of dance are rated as essential. In order to maintain the flow of the dance, for example, the dance halls generally dance counter-clockwise.


Several dance variants are summarized under the term tango . In addition to the tango itself, the milonga and the tango waltz are also danced today . There is also the original candombe and the related standard dance tango .

  • The milonga, which is based on the habanera rhythm (which probably also got its name from the place of dancing ), is danced much faster and with a different emphasis. You can dance it with or without doubling your steps ( traspie ) (this doubles the footwork, but often slows down the absolute movement in space).
  • The tango waltz, or vals, has the beat and tempo of the musette waltz from which it is derived (musette waltzes are generally played slightly faster than their Viennese counterparts ). Like the milonga, Vals is danced with the dancing elements of the tango - due to the difference in rhythm, of course, with different accents and at a different speed.

Basically, the faster the music, the less complex elements are used. Overall, the Tango Argentino covers a wider spectrum than z. B. the Viennese waltz and the slow waltz , which are seen as two different dances in tournament dance.


Although the Tango Argentino is essentially an improvisational dance, a multitude of dance elements has developed. For the communication between leader and follower (or mostly follower) there is a fairly uniform movement grammar, despite the different approaches that have emerged within Tango Argentino. With a little practice, a dancer can use subtle but clearly definable leadership impulses from the same starting position to make it clear which of the conceivable dance elements he intends to perform next. In this way, the dancers can draw from a “kit” of individual elements, design and combine them again and again in harmony with the music, and thus design each dance individually.

The basic elements of Tango Argentino are initially simple walking, the "caminar", stops and turns. Argentine tango teachers developed a step combination as a structuring basic element, which they called "Base" (or "Paso basico"): It consists of eight steps or positions corresponding to the eight beats.

Usually a beat is followed by a step. But it can also - as a special feature of the couple dances - take breaks or halve the steps in their time. Depending on how the leader lets himself be guided by the music or how the space on the dance floor allows, the time elements can be used differently.

Typical characteristics of the dance are, in addition to the tight crossing of the legs ("cross" or "cruzada"), the so-called "eighth" or "ochos", which are mainly danced by women. The dancer's feet describe - as the name suggests - an eight on the floor. This figure eight can be danced forward or backward; several ochos in a row are quite common. While the woman dances such - naturally guided - ochos, the man usually accompanies her with simple sideways steps.

The dancer starts a volcada with her right (Gustavo Naveira with Giselle Anne).

Twists ("Giros" or "Molinetas" or "Moulinettes") are also very popular; While turning, the man can put his feet next to the partner's or even give her a slight impulse with his legs on the thighs or thighs (a sacada or entrada , which is not only danced during a turn).

Further elements are the Voleos (leg hooks in the air, also spelled “Boleo”) and the Ganchos (leg hooks on the partner), with which the direction of movement is changed with a swing. As a current trend there are still techniques with axis tilting: Colgadas and Volcadas as well as the brief release of the dance posture ( Soltadas ).

At a full catalog of steps and techniques must be, however, omitted here: As always invented new elements or sometimes in dancing ge found to be (from misunderstandings out in part), and these elements are combined with one another, it is basically impossible to say how many "characters" there are in Tango Argentino.

It is important that all elements are always danced in relation to the music. Many tango pieces show changes in rhythm; slow passages alternate with fast ones. It is important to interpret these different tempos. At the same time, the partner must be addressed, and (as with all couple dances) the dance floor must be kept in view to avoid collisions with other couples. All this makes the Tango Argentino a demanding and very interesting dance.

Dance events

Dancers and spectators can enjoy the tango dance at various events. The type of event as well as the respective location interact with the style of the dance and the elements used.

  • Lessons
    In lessons, dancers learn the first steps and advanced dancers learn new and vary existing elements in their dance. When choosing a teacher, both his didactic skills are decisive, as well as - especially with advanced dancers - the style taught and personal style influences.
  • Práctica
    At a práctica, an exercise event, dancers practice what they have learned. Such an event can take place independently, directly after the class or before a milonga. The dance instructor or experienced dancers are often still present there, who can correct and answer questions. Due to the proximity to the classroom, there is an opportunity to dance in modern styles. The available space on the dance floor allows an open dance posture. Even non-professional dancers can dance elaborate elements similar to show dance, for which there is not enough space in ballroom dancing. The transition from lessons to práctica on the one hand and from práctica to milonga on the other hand can be fluid.
  • Milonga
    In a milonga , the social dance takes place according to more or less strict social rules. Fashionable styles only slowly flow into traditional events. Often times, the limited space on the dance floor makes it difficult to dance styles with open pair positions.
  • Demonstration
    A demonstration focuses on a dancing couple. This can be on stage, as a show during a milonga, after a class or on other occasions. The dancing couple has enough space for expansive figures, as they do not have to be considerate of other dancing couples.


When dancing the Tango Argentino one can distinguish between different styles (the order depends on the frequency):

  • Tango de salón (Salontango) - The name Tango de salón is derived from the fact that it is danced at the milonga - in the salon - in contrast to the stage tango. Until recently, “social tango” was almost exclusively referred to by this term in Buenos Aires; it was only around 2000 that other names such as “Milonguero” or “Villa Urquiza” were added to define sub-styles. The Salontango largely dispenses with complicated techniques in order to make one's own dancing pleasant and so as not to disturb the dance flow of the other couples out of politeness. An elegant tango style, which is characterized by calm, measured and soft movements. It contains all of the basic tango steps and figures plus ganchos, sacadas, giros and voles. The emphasis is on precision, smoothness and elegant lines. The tight hug can open flexibly to create space for different figures. A posture is often taught in which there is close contact on the embracing side and a certain distance remains on the opposite side (when viewed from above, the upper body is in a V-shaped arrangement). A newly emerging variant of the salon style is the Villa Urquiza style, where the following have more freedom for ornamentation. The Salontango has a long history of development and therefore combines a very diverse spectrum of techniques and elements, so that the majority of today's dancers can identify with this style. You dance this style e.g. B. to the music of Di Sarli .
  • Estilo Milonguero - This term was originally used by Europeans and some North Americans to describe the dance style in a very close embrace; also called confiteria style, club style, apilado style, etc. It used to be called Tango Petitero after the small cafés in the center of Buenos Aires. He can usually be seen in very crowded single clubs in central Buenos Aires. This style is danced in a very close embrace with full upper body contact, with the partners leaning against each other a little (- never hanging together) and performing simple walking and turning steps. This style requires more rhythmic music. You dance this style e.g. B. to the music of D'Arienzo or Tanturi . This dance style is by no means restricted to the tango music style of the same name.
  • Neotango , also Tango Nuevo - characteristic of these styles is the conscious opening of the dance posture. The tight upper body posture favored in the Salontango, which is oriented towards a parallel course, is changed here by playing with the distance and turning away. This also enables positions next to or behind one another. In addition, elements from the stage tango and other dances are adapted so that they can be danced in ballroom dancing. Characteristic are u. a. Elements that play with the task of the axis of one or both dance partners (Colgadas, Volcadas). You dance this style e.g. B. to the music of Gotan Project .
    This dance style of the Junge Wilde has in turn approximated the salon style (more rarely the milonguero styles), so that several mixed forms emerged. At the same time there is a return to the essentials of tango. Examples include the Tango Líquido and the Organic Tango.
    The Tango Líquido is a very young style, in which the rather narrow posture of the Salontango and the more open one of the Tango Nuevo flow into one another ("líquido", i.e. liquid) to ensure both the closeness of the Tango Salon as well as being able to dance the dynamics of the “New Tango”. It is suitable for tango music styles in which the techniques of Tango Nuevo seem appropriate and the dancers want to feel the closeness of the other in addition to the dramatic movements of Tango Nuevo; z. B. to dramatic music like by Pugliese . Indistinguishable from this practice is the
    Representatives of the Organic Tango recognize only be suitable to what can be done coming from the center of the body and followed. This puts you in the transition area between your own style and a doctrine; An indication of this is that the principles of organic tango can (but not necessarily) be applied to the styles mentioned above without loss. The organic tango can bedancedto all styles of tango music.
  • Tango Orillero - The wild, explosive dance style from the poor suburbs (orillas) of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, in which the man performs many fast, syncopated steps and even jumps. It was introduced by men who displayed a new self-confidence and represents the transition from the stooped, danced with a deep pliée to the upright, straight posture that ultimately led to the Tango de Salón. It is closely related to the milonguero style and a direct descendant of the Canyengue . You dance this style e.g. B. to the music of D'Arienzo .
Alberto Muraro and Marta Lorenzi show a tango in the canyon style . (note the characteristic, strongly bent knees)
  • Canyengue - A very old style of tango dating from between the turn of the century and the beginning of the 1940s. The music of this era was characterized by a fast 24 meter, so that the dance was more rhythmically emphasized, similar to the modern milonga. A particularly close hug with strong contact in the pelvis as well as some unique posture and footwork elements are characteristic; so z. B. used violent movements of the arms and shoulders. On this basis the European tango could have developed (against the background of the posture in other European dances). One candancethis style especially on the tangos of the earliest era (e.g. on music by Firpo ) - often also on Candombes.
  • Tango al revés is a variant of the salon tango created in the 1940s, in which the leader is in the so-called “shadow position”, i.e. i.e., he is behind the following, with his chest against her back. An unusual position that is rediscovered by dancers who love to experiment. A pure stage form.
  • Tango tradicional , the mostly pure and early style, a tango that is mostly done rhythmically, not to the compás, i.e. beat, but rhythmically.
  • Tango con corte y quebrada , a very early style in tango history that goes beyond traditional tango and incorporates cortes (cuts) y quebradas (bent poses) and small sentadas (seated figures). The quebradas of that time were later stylized and are now commonly referred to as a pose.
  • Tango de fantasía , refers not only to the dance style, but also to music and clothing. This term arose as early as the 1940s in the wish to be able to conceptualize everything that deviated from traditional tango. In the dance, the couple added little gimmicks such as sentadas and quick leg movements to traditional tango. In clothing, the suit with white edging on the lapel is called traje de fantasía. In music, Osmar Héctor Maderna falls into the category of Tango de Fantasía with his modern solos that differ from tango. In the Argentine folklore, the term "folklore de projección" arose at the same time for forms that deviate from traditional folklore.
  • Tango acrobático , an acrobatic dance to tango music is performed here, a dance form with strong influences that go beyond ballet, such as modern dance, gymnastics, ice dance, jazz, circus, acrobatics and contact improvisation with lifts and acrobatic effect figures. For the first time this dance form was consciously created as a concept in 1990 by Eduardo Arquimbau, who conceived a new number for the dance couple Sandor and Miriam in the show "Forever Tango". Sandor came from a circus family and mastered acrobatic circus acts. Eduardo Arquimbau used this for the number created here. The piece danced at the time is called Tus ojos del cielo (Volume 2 of the CD Forever Tango, Miriam is shown on the cover). This dance form was later copied by almost all young couples.
  • Stage tango and show tango , this is a tango that adapts to the events on the stage, such as basic choreographic movements (e.g. diagonals), lighting design, stage dimensions , audience direction , mise en scene, dramaturgy, etc. It is a form adapted to the theater, But this in no way means that it must or should contain acrobatic, circus or other elements alien to tango. Every tango style can be performed on stage and has to adapt technically to the stage conditions. Strictly speaking, every tango, including the stage tango, should be led and improvised by the man. Although a choreography is present in whole or in part, the man should always fulfill his role as a leader and lead this choreography in movement, space and music at every moment, insofar as it is tango. Ideally, the stage tango draws on its own elements (caminadas, paso basico, ochos, giros, contragiros, voleos, llevadas de pie, sacadas, cortes, quebradas, cruze, ganchos - in all its combinations). Every element foreign to the tango distorts the tango - even on stage. A dramaturgy can, however, require theater elements for the stage projection. Stage tango and show tango should not be confused with Tango de Fantasia, Tango Acrobático or Tango Moderno.

Gender role distribution in tango

For new tendencies in following and leading, in breaking up the heteronormative gender role distribution, see Queer Tango .

The traditionally assigned gender role can be dissolved, for example in queer tango . For this reason, this type of dance is also suitable for manager training to develop leadership skills .


In contrast to standard dances, tango does not see itself as a dance sport with competitions. But since 2003 there has been an unofficial Tango World Championship , the Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango in Buenos Aires. Couples from all over the world can take part, including same-sex couples since 2013. There are also open championships in Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, USA, China, Russia and the United Kingdom, as well as Asian (Tokyo, Japan) and European competitions (Todi, Italy). The Argentine city and provincial championships have a high reputation.

Voices about the tango

"There is no indication that the latex industry is getting more interest in the tango scene - in contrast to the peppermint industry."

"Tango is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire."

"Tango is a sad thought that you can dance."

- Enriqure Santos Discépolo (tango composer)



Tango has always attracted film adaptations of both dance and music:

As an expression of passion and sensuality, the Tango Argentino also appears in the film The Scent of Women with Al Pacino . The piece that is danced to is the famous Tango Por una cabeza by Carlos Gardel . Likewise, the Tango de Roxanne in the film musical Moulin Rouge points to the origins of tango in the brothel.


  • María de Buenos Aires , opera (“Tango Operita”) in 16 pictures;
  • Orestes último Tango, opera , music Diego Vila, libretto Betty Gambartes, choreography Oscar Araiz. Based on El Reñidero by Sergio de Cecco and Electra. First performed on March 22nd, 2002 in Rotterdam as part of the Wereld Muziek Theater Festival of the Netherlands. Originalcast: Julia Zenko (Elena), Carlos Vittori (Orestes), Susana Moncayo (Nélida), Rodolfo Valss (Soriano), Luis Pereyra (Morales), Jorge Nolasco (Vicente) and Nicole Nau (La mujer de la milonga)


  • Oratorio Carlos Gardel , oratorio for symphony orchestra, choir, soloists and recitation;
    • Music: Horacio Salgán , Libretto : Horacio Ferrer ;
    • First performance: 1975 in Mar del Plata (with the symphony orchestra and choir of the city of Mar del Plata and Balcace, conductor: Guillermo Scarabino)


  • Tanguera , premiered in 2002 in Buenos Aires


German-language literature

Spanish-language literature

  • Vicente Rossi: Cosas de Negros. Editorial Aguilar, 1926, ISBN 950-511-699-3 .
  • Andrés M. Carretero: El Compadrito y el Tango. Ediciones Pampa y Ciel, 1964.
  • Daniel Vidart : El Tango y su Mundo. Ediciones Tauro SRL, 1967.
  • Tomás de Lara, Inés LR de Panti: El Tema del tango en la Literatura argentina. Ediciones Culturales Argentinas 1981.
  • Noemí Ulla: Tango, Rebelión y Nostalgia. Centro Editor de America Latina 1982, ISBN 950-25-0632-4 .
  • Fernando O. Assunção : El Tango y sus Circunstancias. El Ateneo 1984, ISBN 950-02-8366-2 .
  • Horacio Salas: El Tango. 3. Edition. Editorial Planeta Argentina 1989, ISBN 950-37-0219-4 ( see above )
  • Hugo Lamas, Enrique Binda: El Tango en la Sociedad Porteña 1880–1920. Editorial Lucci, 1998, ISBN 950-99589-1-3 .
  • Andrés M. Carretero: Tango, Testigo Social. Peña Lillo Ediciones Continente, 1999, ISBN 950-754-059-8 .
  • Sergio Pujol: Historia del Baile - de la Milonga a la Disco. EMECÉ Editores, 1999, ISBN 950-04-2064-3 .
  • Nicole Nau -Klapwijk: Tango, un baile bien porteño. editorial Corregidor, Buenos Aires, ISBN 950-05-1311-0 .

Web links

Commons : Tango  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikibooks: Tango Argentino  - learning and teaching materials

Individual evidence

  1. María Rosalía Norese: Contextualización y análisis del tango. Sus orígenes hasta la aparición de la vanguardia . Diss. Universidad de Salamanca, 2002, ISBN 84-7800-796-2 , pp. 40-53.
  2. Tango is the cultural heritage of mankind ( Memento from October 5, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Die Zeit Online, accessed on September 30, 2009.
  3. a b c d Dieter Reichardt: Tango Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1984.
  4. ^ Tango negro in Faz.net
  5. a b c d e Arne Birkenstock, Helena Rüegg: Tango dtv, Munich 1999.
  6. ^ Roberto Daus: El Tango, Medio Siglo En Imagenes Almendra Music SL, Barcelona 1998.
  7. ^ Hugo Lamas & Enrique Binda: El Tango en la Sociedad Porteña 1880–1920 Editorial: Lucci 1998.
  8. a b c d e f Gabriela Hanna: Así bailaban el Tango Metro Verlag, Berlin 1993.
  9. ^ Raimund Allebrand: Tango: Nostalgia and Farewell; Psychology of the Tango Argentino Horlemann, Bad Honnef 1998.
  10. Franco Barrionuevo Anzaldi: Political Tango. Intellectual struggles over dance culture under the sign of Peronism. Transcript Verlag , Bielefeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-8376-1794-8 .
  11. a b Tango Danza 3.2001.
  12. Tango Danza 1.2009.
  13. ^ The prehistory of the 2nd Tango Era in Europe
  14. ^ Website Daniel Zelaya ( Memento from June 23, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Tango Danza 1.2003.
  16. Ricardo y Nicole archive
  17. ^ Tango Argentino in Landau. (No longer available online.) Tangotaverne.de, archived from the original on June 28, 2013 ; Retrieved June 7, 2013 .
  18. Tango - Dance of Hearts - A textbook on Argentine Tango. Kleb Verlag, Wangen im Allgäu 2000, ISBN 3-9803795-6-6 .
  19. ^ Website of the Tango Festival Innsbruck, accessed July 5, 2012
  20. tangoamadeus.com , accessed July 5, 2012.
  21. ^ Rudolf Goritschnig: Tango Argentino Feldkirchen in Carinthia. Retrieved February 18, 2018 .
  22. Booklet for the CD tuLe taNSSImaaN , Trikont Munich 1998, LC 4270
  23. a b Tango Danza 1.2008.
  24. Tango Danza 3.2002.
  25. ^ Terminology. In: Tango Marathon Directory. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  26. ABC of Tango Events - No More Porridge! In: melinas-two-cent.blogspot.de. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  27. Gato Milongueiro: Encuentros Milongueros (Milongueando en Europa). (No longer available online.) In: www.gatomilongueiro.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2017 ; accessed on January 4, 2017 .
  28. Tips for European 'encuentros'. In: mshedgehog.blogspot.de. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  29. Encuentros & Festivalitos Milongueros 2017. In: melinas-two-cent.blogspot.de. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  30. scuolatangofirenze.it - ​​Biografia. In: scuolatangofirenze.it. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  31. Welcome to the Tangokombinat. In: tangokombinat.de. Retrieved January 4, 2017 .
  32. Cosmia.de tempo in dance
  33. a b c d Styles of Argentine Tango
  34. a b Evolution of Argentine Tango Styles . ( Memento of December 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 16 KB)
  35. Tango Lexicon
  36. Tradition meets modernity . In: Tango Danza , No. 2–2011, ISSN  1438-8847
  37. Organic Tango in San Francisco ( Memento from 1 March 2009 at the Internet Archive )
  38. Tango Lexicon
  39. Information on terms from the world of Tango Argentino - estilo orillero. sentimiento.de, accessed on June 7, 2013 .
  40. The Tango al Revés. home.foni.net, accessed June 7, 2013 .
  41. ^ Osmar Héctor Maderna
  42. ^ Curtain up, Forever Tango
  43. Forever Tango 1990 ( Memento from December 6, 2010 in the web archive archive.today )
  44. Nicole Nau Klapwijk: Tango dimensions. Kastell Verlag, 1999, ISBN 3-924592-65-9 and Nicole Nau-Klapwijk: Tango, un baile bien porteño. Editorial Corregidor, 2000, ISBN 950-05-1311-0 .
  45. The book
  46. Katharina Starlay: Why managers should dance the tango. In: manager magazin. Retrieved January 24, 2017 .
  47. What can managers learn from tango? In: Badische Zeitung. Retrieved January 24, 2017 .
  48. The Secret of Argentine Tango. pm-magazin.de, archived from the original on September 27, 2014 ; Retrieved June 7, 2013 .
  49. ^ "Orestes" - Tango Opera from Argentina - Diego Vila & Beatriz Gambartes Press review World premiere of the Opera Orestes