It Takes Two: Argentina and the Tango Essays

It Takes Two: Argentina and the Tango Essays

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The curtain rises on the streets of late 19th century Buenos Aires as a simple quadruple meter begins to ring. Two figures emerge from the darkness and begin to flow into a sensual, impressive dance. As he artfully guides her body around his own figure, a crowd begins to form, and soon there are more couples that join into this social dance. This is the scene for the beginning of the Argentine tango. The tango was not always the elegant dance reserved for famed ballrooms, but rather, it had its début on the streets of Buenos Aires with the poor of Argentina. Tango was the result of a booming agricultural economy with no one to work for it. The poor of Argentina were simply the already poor immigrants from Europe who sought a better life in the richness of Argentina. The influx of immigrants created dominantly male cities, and consequently, there were no women for the amount of men. Tango became the only way for men to express themselves romantically in a city where hardships flourished and hyper-masculinity was the key to survival. Although the tango was created in Argentina, it was not solely inspired by Argentine culture, but rather by a melting pot of cultures that were found in the community. The Argentine tango originated through the European immigrants who came to Buenos Aires, and eventually evolved into a dance, lyric poetry, and music that became a connotation for sensuality and joined the ranks of the waltz, the polka, and the foxtrot in the esteemed ballrooms of the world. (Denniston 11-4)
The tango was a tool of seduction even in its most early forms; its nature is to be used to attract. In Christine Denniston’s book, The Meaning of Tango, she describes the dance as “ a cornerstone of Argentinian culture” (15). Th...


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...he new aspects that were incorporated in some versions of tango, such as: the alternation of two melodies, changing phrases to accommodate cadences, continued triple-meter sections after establishing a duple meter. Triple meter became introduced in sections of different tango pieces as to incorporate the waltz (a famed tradition European dance) within the tango, combining the old with the new. Interestingly enough, as the tango spread internationally it was used in America and Europe with upbeat and more superficial lyrics, when traditionally in Argentina the tango was an inwardly reflective, emotional song. The adaptation of the tango from country shows the wide range of shapes and diversity that it can manifest, making it a universally friendly art form; it became something that people could make their own, while still remaining in the parameter of tango. (128-32)

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