Tango styles evolution
Some weeks ago, I followed some really interesting classes with a couple I have written about in the past. Natalia and Agustin are doing a truly incredible job in researching and creating some of the most interesting courses and teaching material on topics related to musicality, expressiveness, and styling, and I believe they are among the very few who do not look only at the surface of such things but dive a lot deeper to the history of this dance.
So, in the classes, I followed they were explaining how Tango music evolved over the years and then how the dance also changed and evolved with it. One of the key ideas was that Tango is much more than what we now see and learn in our typical lessons. Today we are mostly bombarded with rules, classes, techniques, and so on about Tango focusing mostly on what is called salon style. I mean… almost all of us started our journey with rules like keeping your axis and weight on one leg… projecting and then transferring the weight, etc.
However, Tango was not like this when it started. All these rules were mostly introduced when Tango mixed with European dances to become what we call Tango salon. Tango started in poor neighborhoods with a lot more African roots, a lot more rhythm, percussion, and a lot fewer complex steps. This was what we now call Tango milonguero. Actually, there was also another style before that (Cayenge)… but it’s much better if you actually follow Tango Natalia y Agustin and get all these from their lessons (I am just giving you a teaser trailer here). I find it really sad that we are not listening about this more often and earlier in our Tango journeys but I will deal with it in another post about the reasons why I think this happens.
One very interesting thing though, pointed out during this history lesson was the clash of classes (if you can say so)… the coexistence of styles. After 41.. 42.. that salon style started getting traction, in the milongas, the poorer classes were mostly dancing the milonguero style (with more rhythmical tandas) while the upper classes were dancing mostly salon-style (on the other half of more melodic tandas). What is really interesting is that these styles and their dancers coexisted in a relationship like the ones you have with friends supporting other football teams. You get together, have fun, and tease each other about each team’s losses or failures bragging about your team. The coexistence of salon and milonguero styles was like this… people getting together in milongas… having fun… and teasing each other about the way they danced… but in the end without any hard feelings left.
So, apart from many other things… Tango and its evolution through time, managed to bridge somehow the gaps of social classes and bring together people under the umbrella of music and emotions communicated through it. That is, I guess, one more reason that makes it so universal!
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
So Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is a song written in 1941… right during the period when salon style was becoming more popular and is indicative of this coexistence and how the milonguero-style dancers were looking at and mocking the salon-style ones bragging about their authenticity.
How about you? How do you handle the differences in tango? What is your view of people who have a different style? How open-minded or strong-opinionated are you? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.