Tango – a sad thought that is danced
Upon the news of Carlos Gardel’s death in 1935, several women attempted suicide, and Argentina, Cuba, New York, Latin America, and Europe were shocked by the announcement. The plane crash that claimed the life of the so-called King of Tango was a vast tragedy, especially as tango was at the peak of its popularity, with luxurious dresses and ballgowns, elegant suits, and an abundance of sparkle and glamor. However, the tango’s humble origins lie in the need to exhibit the gentlest sentiments, with members of the lower layers of Argentine society finding an outlet for their unhappiness, unfulfilled desires, and ambitions. The dance allowed them to express their passion and feelings in a way without an outlet.
To understand Argentina and its people, known as porteños (people from the port, as Buenos Aires residents call themselves), one must be familiar with their passion for football, food, wine, and tango, as well as their strong emotions towards four cult personalities: controversial Evita Peron, “Che” Guevara, Maradona, and Carlos Gardel. Gardel, a very handsome man with a beautiful voice, charming and charismatic, was one of the most influential figures in the history of tango. He is credited with creating tango songs that made him famous in Buenos Aires, Paris, New York, and globally.
Despite the influence of many musicians, composers, and dancers, such as Astor Piazzolla, the seductive dance’s story began many decades ago in the mid-19th century with the arrival of African slaves in Argentina. Although their customs, music, and dance greatly influenced Argentine dance and music, the tango dance today was created more than half a century later and modified by immigrants of different nationalities in search of a better life in Buenos Aires. This new dance was much more exciting and mysterious than all the previous dances.
Tango is a sad thought that is danced, as a tango composer said a long time ago. The passion in its performance and the sorrow exuded by the melodies and songs people danced to make it appealing, with nostalgia for the homeland, sadness for lost or inexperienced love, and yearning for youth and a better life expressed in the melodies. The tango was danced only in the poor suburbs of Buenos Aires for a long time among members of the lower class, who often spent their leisure time in brothels searching for female company, contributing to the passion and eroticism of the dance itself.
In the early 20th century, during Argentina’s Golden Age of Tango, the dance spread to the European continent, where it became an international phenomenon in Paris, New York, and London. Improvisation in the movements and the proximity of a man and woman in a passionate embrace revolutionized dance expression worldwide, with a spectrum of different emotions and intensity than classical and conservative dances.
Tango was born here
Today, the tango is a source of national pride and one of the defining symbols of Argentina’s cultural identity. It has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO and is danced in various settings such as the streets, bars, and milongas. A must-visit place, located next to the colorful La Boca, is the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso situated in the oldest district of San Telmo. Although the exact year and place of its creation are unknown, Buenos Aires residents claim that tango was born here.
Each night, different musicians and dancers showcase their talents to the audience. I had the privilege of listening to the talented actor and musician, Rodrigo de la Serna. Additionally, I attended the dance classes held before the official program. If you have never visited Buenos Aires, there are many schools in Belgrade where you can learn this dance. Regardless of where you dance, the sensuality and passion you experience while dancing with someone dear or a stranger will be equally intense, making tango both powerful and unique.
That is all for now. For more about Argentina, click HERE.