Modern Tango: History that shaped it.

Modern Tango

Tango is a ballroom dance that originated among the working class of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 20th century. Tango has its influence from African, South American, and European cultures. The tango dance requires close connection and great passion between the dancers and is typically performed by a man and a woman, although newer versions boast same-sex pairs as well. Spanish settlers were the first to introduce the Tango to the world, and the dance form was then popularized by the dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires who travelled all across Europe in the early 20th century. The first European tango frenzy was in the fashion city of Paris, followed by London and Berlin. Towards the end of 1910, it was taking off in the ballrooms of New York. Tango music is a genre in and of itself, and the Americans particularly loved it. Tango music was often played in the ballrooms of New York but at a faster tempo, leading to the development of ‘North American tango.’ This music was further developed by Latin American musicians such as Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla who helped shape the tango music genre. The popularity of Tango in Latin America was so enormous that it led to the origin of the popularized phrase “It takes two to tango.”


When the Tango began to spread worldwide during the 1900s, cultural norms were mostly conservative; therefore, Tango was widely considered extremely sexual and inappropriate for the public. The dance teachers who introduced the dance to the Paris city were banished in the 1913s as the dance was controversial because of its perceived sexual undertones. During later years, Tango saw a decrease and subsequent increase in its popularity, but today, it is undeniably one of the most excellent dance forms in history. To honour the Tango dance form, it was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2009.

Tango has a repetitive style of music, and the count of the music is generally either 16 or 32 beats. While participating in the tango dance form, the woman is usually held in the crook of the man’s arm, and she rests her right hand on the man’s lower hip and holds her head back. In Tango, the man allows the woman to stay in this position and leads her around the floor in a circular pattern. In the Tango dance form, it is a must that the dancers make a strong connection between themselves and the music in order for it to be successful. It is to be noted that Tango originated and practiced in Argentina is much more intimate and retains the intimacy of the original dance.