“I love tango, and I used to dance when I was young.” (Pope Francis)
All around the world, Tango is commonly known as a passionate Latin dance involving bawdy couple’s movements, impressive acrobatics, killer looks, lots of black and red, and sometimes even hats and roses. That’s Hollywood tango.
In the UK, the TV show Strictly Come Dancing has popularised a peculiar mixture: Ballroom tango danced to other musical rhythms. Tango music is not there, but an acrobatic semblance of tango figures reinforce the energetic display of dramatic passion.
As a dance, Argentinian tango consists of an embraced couple which improvises to tango music. A choreographical and acrobatic variant has been developed for tango shows. Even so, the couple, the embrace and improvisation to tango music are the essential elements of tango dancing from its beginnings in Argentina.
Lyrics are an often overlooked aspect of tango, even though the power of words provokes the most insightful dancers. The best Argentinian poets were drawn to them and their phrases have forged the ‘porteño’ philosophy of life. Spanish language from the River Plate and Lunfardo jargon lie at the roots of the tango experience.
Tango is a cultural expression from the River Plate. As such, it involves not only dancing but also music, poetry, socials, a specific urban landscape and even a mythology. Athough it was born in the 1880’s, Tango culture is still very much alive and it continues to evolve.