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Buenos Aires, Argentina History of Tango

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History of Tango in Buenos Aires and Argentina

Click here to see the places having Tango Shows in Buenos Aires

Tango (both and music) is the probably the most well known and important art form Buenos Aires and Argentina have given the the world. Tango's origins are traced back to about 1880. The first tango composer is noted to be Juan Perez, author of the song "Dame la lata", although it is not discarded that other authors and other songs had existed at this time. . It is likely that the first tangos were "Dame la lata ", "El Tero" and "And á te a la Recoleta ". Its birthplace was the slums, inhabited by Italian and Spanish immigrants, black people and "gauchos". From this racial mix appeared the "compadritos" (small-time hoods) who tried to reflect in their music, their letters and their dance the typical cuchilleros (knife fighters) duel characteristic of their social ambient. Their music appears as a mix of Cuban and Spanish rhythms, some polka and, as some people observe, a little bit of African music. Their lyrics, difficult to understand and impossible to translate, are deeply poetic and have a story to tell about the city, its history and its people.

Originally, the tango dance developed as an "acting out" of the relationship between the prostitute and her pimp. In fact, the titles of the first tangos referred to characters in the world of prostitution. These tango songs and dances had no lyrics, were often highly improvised, and were generally regarded as obscene. Further, the early tangos not only represented a kind of sexual choreography, but often a duel, a man-to-man combat between challengers for the favors of a woman, that usually ended in the symbolic death of an opponent. Sexual and evil forces were equally celebrated in this ritual. During this time, the wailing melancholy of the bandoneon (an accordion-like instrument imported to Argentina from German in 1886) became a mainstay of tango music.

Despite its dubious origins, in the 20s tango left the brothels and the underworld districts to reach the high-class ballrooms, but to do so it had had to travel to Paris to come back triumphant. Typically characteristic of a prejudiced society that has always looked at Europe for its models. Tango became at last a complete cultural expression, a gathering of myths, values, traditions and aspirations. For some people just representative of a time in the past, in fact, tango is as alive in the city air as humidity.

A good way of penetrating its spirit is visiting one of the restaurants that offer tango shows of an excellent level, to enjoy tango's sensual magnetism taken to the stage by some of the best dancers, singers and musicians of Buenos Aires.

Click here to see the places having Tango Shows in Buenos Aires

For further information on classes, museums, radio, festivals, etc. visit the Official Tango Portal of the City of Buenos Aires at

Daily and weekly show information:


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