The Tango

Ah, the Tango. Dance of love, passion, and chiropracty. The vertical expression of a horizontal desire. It's apparently the only legal way to 'sensually caress' a stranger in public. So what are you lot waiting for? Get out there and find a class!

I'd say something about needing large balls to pull this off, but...

Just The Facts

  1. A common belief is that the tango started in brothels and cabrets, and the only women who were allowed do dance it were prostitutes, presumably making it a favourite for creeps worldwide.
  2. In reality, the tango was danced pretty much everywhere and by everyone, but the widely-held belief comes from the fact that many dance halls had bad reputations, or sold the appropriate services on the side.
  3. With women being a scarity at the time, most of the dancing going on in the streets when the music started up was men with men. See, the image up there doesn't look so silly now, does it? ... alright, so maybe it does.

How it started


Don't worry. No-one really expects you to pay attention to the rest of this article now.

The biggest problem with the tango is that no-one can seem to agree where, and exactly how it started. It's typically seen as a melting pot for all the new immigrants to toss in their two cents in terms of rhythm and music, get rascally drunk, and pretend that whatever happened was all part of the plan next morning.

Another version of the story is that an officer of Genghis Khan's got rascally drunk one night during a floor show and jumped right in the middle of the women, tearing up the dance-floor with his tipsy tippy-toes. Genghis Khan, being that sort of nice and understanding guy, is reported to have said "Hey, that was great. Why don't you give up war and make a career out of that?"

It might have something to do with this going on behind the guy.

And thus a bold tradtion of getting rascally drunk dancing the tango was born. It quickly spread to Paris and other parts of Europe around the time Latin America was getting bored with it, and imagine their surprise when they woke up one morning and found out that the tourists had permanently linked them with the dance, at the cost of pretty much everything else. Not wanting to let the chance pass them by, they dusted of their roses, dresses and bars instruments, and thus the bold tradtion was given a rejuvenating kick in the pants.

How it goes

One of the defining traits of the tango is, by and large, all the leg the disctinctive music, a heady combination of violin, guitar, and flute. The flute was later replaced with the concertina, leading to the sound we know today. As here.

The Tango itself has three sub-tangos to it's name, divided into their seperate types on the basis of how the music goes. The first one is the tango-milonga, written for large orchestras. The second is the tango-romanza, romantic, lyrical music which is often sung. The third, the tango-cancion, is always sung, with lyrics that are usually all the about the stuggles of life in the poor slum areas, and presumably how the dancers are high-kicking a defiant shoe at it.

How it ends

Like this

And this

Picture a wild panther finally capturing its prey with a graceful scoop for the final bite. That's how it all goes, and that's how you'll typically see it end.

Passion is the most indelible defining characteristic of the tango, regardless of the type of music, or whether it started in the brothels, or with immgrants being bored in the streets. Whether it was banned here, or ostracized there once upon a time, only makes it all the more exciting. The truth of it all is sketchy, and not really important, to be honest. It's gone beyond just a dance and become a symbol of the fire and romance of Latin America (as advertised!) along with it's spicy extended family like the Samba, Salsa, Mambo and Rumba, although the Tango is undoubtedly the most well-known. With possibly the Samba pulling up a close second, thanks to Disney popularising Brazil for good and all.

Pictured: The awesomeness that is the Samba