Tango Argentino > ABC's Definition of Tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Me, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    all tango is wonderful...none should be belittled...group hug...
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I love you;)
  3. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    :uplaugh: LOVE IT!!!!
  4. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Calming the Storm

    Merci bien. I have been waiting for the mods to step in here. This and post #59 is well worth reading.
  5. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I tried earlier....not sure where our AT mods are at the moment...but then again most of us have lives;)...at any rate....hopefully there is enough clarity here that good people can agree to disagree
  7. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Now ya had to go an do it again-- make me laugh out loud :D:D
  8. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    My sentiments -- exactly !!!
  9. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i'm wondering what bit of social fun gave max his hangover... heh
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    AT identified as THE Tango having evolved directly from it, and the other (BR and AM) some lite version?
    Are they seen as three distinct dances?"

    It is my understanding that all three styles came out of the "orginal" tango from Argentina (more acurately both Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Montevideo in Uruguay).
    When the dance "went overseas" it evolved/was preserved in those locations and is known by specific names.
    Tango (both the music and the dance) continued to evolve in Argentina. What we now call Argentine Tango (which actually includes a number of styles) is based on the dance as it comes to us recently (within the last few decades) from Argentina.

    Someone at "my" country western place recently returned from New Zealand and Austrailia, and she was a bit annoyed that the people there want to go to Texas to see "real" country western dancing - as if we aren't doing the real thing here in Oregon / Washington.
    Well, AT dancers see Buenos Aires as the Mecca of AT. Nevertheless, people do make good arguments as to why AT differs from country to country, and town to town, depending on any number of reasons.
  11. Me

    Me New Member


    ANYWAY, I really appreciate the many contributions made by tangotime, AngelHI, Gssh, Ampster... and others, who seem to not only be sympathetic toward my frustration but also willing to post very in depth historical information about tango and other dances. I realize that during this thread I have been focusing on the random elements and ignoring the educational ones, and not thanking people enough for the sharing of information, which is really why I'm here, though sometimes I forget.

    Thank you!
  12. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    You seem to be assuming some inconsitency between Larinda's statement and the quote you followed it with.

    There is none.

    Your assumption is based on how you continue to take so many parts of this thread, including Larinda's comment, out of context

    You've got to stop assuming that all references to "tango" are to your dances... because they obviously aren't.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Ok, now i am lost - how can the tango we are dancing today (either BR or AT) have nothing to do with its roots? Maybe the AT community is quaint in that way, but most people in it seem to believe that this is part of understanding the dance - if we dance to 20's music, or 50's or nuevo will be better dancers if we have some idea what the orchestras that performed saw on the dancefloor, and if we know how the people hearing these orchestras reacted to the sound. To get an appreciation of the differences between the early d'arienzo (1928), the late d'arienzo (1972), or what otros aires do with samples from his work in 2004 it helps to be aware of who these artists play for.

    Sure, AT is not a vintage dance, but it is quite in touch with its past. I really don't know if this is part of BR, but for me as a AT dancer the idea that talking about the past and history of a dance has nothing to do with its current incarnation is mindboggling.

    Maybe this is too contentious in tango - what about waltzer/allemande/waltz? Would you argue that the austrian folk dance/scandalous society dance of the 1830's/more stately Boston/faster viennese (and for AT dancers: early tango vals) is irrelevant to what people nowadays dance?

    I am slighly baffled by the contentiousness of this thread - i don't think the intent of anybody was to belittle ballroom tango, or international tango, or AT.

    Maybe we should start another thread about "how important is awareness of the history of a dance to somebody is dancing now?", because that seems to be what this whole discussions is boiling down too - well, at least that is the point of view i am trying to defend - i think the history of a dance is a important source of understanding its style, and mood, and you can always try to steal material from it - Chris doesn't seem to agree with this, which is a prefectly valid stance, too - i mean, while it is fun to try stealing a move from the castles description of tango it is pretty geeky, and there are so many contemporary dancers with great style and vocabulary it is really quite unnneccessary.

  14. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    The type of tango the AT community dances today obviously gains none of its key characteristics from the situation postulated in the first point of the ABC web page.

    That doesn't make that point valid or invalid as a potential historical occurance or contributor to some other types of dancing - it merely makes it absolutely irrelevent to the characteristics of the AT community's idea of tango

    Which would be the case for the rest of the page, too...

    And the past postuled at the ABC web page is clearly not the past of the AT community's current tango. So why the objection?

    The page never claimed to say anything about the AT community's idea of tango, present or past.

    The problem is that ever time you see the word tango, you assume it must have something to do with AT...

    I'm fairly unconcerned with what the vintage dance community postulates for the history of their ideas of waltz, because their claims really have no impact on what I dance today. I have some interest in the contributing ingredients to the two forms of waltz that I do, but the reality is that they are defined much more by what they have become than by where they started.

    You know, they have vintage events featuring rotary waltz and all that, but I'm really not interested. If I wanted to do something like that for fun, I'd throw a ball with a facade of historical setting, but modern dances. Not because I'd think that was accurate, but because I'd think it was fun.
  15. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    My assumptions in this thread are these:

    1) There are multiple styles of tango currently danced (international, ballroom,salon, nuevo, milonguero, finnish) - all of them valid and good

    2) There is a shared history of these dances, with the BR variants becoming distinct/codified in the 1920s, salon and milonguero in the 1940s, nuevo in the 1990)

    3) we have very little idea what the the earliest tango (pre 1900) looked like. Some people think its close to early BR, some look at cayuenge (sp?) and milonguero, but there is not much written/pictorial evidence.

    Based on these assumptions i consider it obvious that when we talk about anything before lets say 1910 there is only one tango. Before this point there is no difference in the history between BR and nuevo tango. It also seems obvious to me that any statement about the history of tango before that point is about OUR tango. I am surprised that everybody seems so intent to emphasize that they are different dances when at the time we are talking about (the time when presumably the smelly gauchos and their stiff pants shaped the look of our tangos) there was only one tango, the root of all the different styles.

    We can discuss this shared history of our tangos (were did it come from?), or we can talk about where they deviated from each other (either from the gaucho history: why/when did the salon and milonguero styles straighen their legs and abandon the women leaning away, or from the urban history: why/when did BR styles introduce the bent leg and lean away (btw, i tried to hunt down the 1922 codification of english tango because of this interesting discussion, to see what the earlies BR tango looked like, but no luck - does anybody know where one could get this? I am now curious if it looks similar to what the castles consider to be ballroom tango ( http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=musdi&fileName=161/musdi161.db&recNum=15&itemLink=r?ammem/musdi:mad:field(DOCID+@lit(M1619)):%231610016&linkText=1 )
    and argentine tango (they use the same posture for both, but different figures).

    To advance the understanding of OUR tango, no matter what style, we have to acknowledge the shared history of the different styles, and where and how they deviated from each other.

    It is not sufficient to say "well, the history of MY tango is not the history of YOUR tango".

    All I wanted to discuss here is the shared history of our tangos. And i (like the OP, i think) believe that this shared history was not described well on the ABC site.

    It is not obvious to me how "the shared history of all tangos" is not, well, shared between all tangos.

    For me claiming that i dance and study tango quite well includes that i have some idea of when the different styles deviated from each other. I admit that i have only a very vague idea of modern BR tango, (though i have seen enough to realize that some of the early descriptions of figures in tango match modern BR better than modern AT, (minus the posture - which seems closer to salon than anything else).

    But we are talking neither about descriptions of modern BR or modern AT, but about the early forms that preceded both - which means that no matter which modern branch we study we should be on the same page - again i assume there to be a shared history.

  16. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Sorry, i was writing when you wrote this, so this overlaps my previous post.

    Thank you for this. I now understand better where you come from, and looking at this discussion from that point of view makes your conclusions and arguments the only logical choice.

    I personally like thinking about where the dances come from, and some of my fondest memories of dances are seeign a couples in their 80's dancing swing at a club, and it was obvious that they danced what they had learned in their youth, and another couple of roughly the same age demonstration Danzon (sp?) at a salsa club.

    I will go and open a new thread on this in "general dance" :)

    Thanks again for your patience in communicating your perspective.

  17. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    A reasonable interest Gssh, but as I see it what Chris has been trying to point out is that this--the shared history--really isn't what the description by ABC is about. That is, since their description is clearly about Ballroom Tango (whether they understand the distinction or not), its a misread from the start to apply it to anything that predates the codification of the ballroom style that you yourself have mentioned.

  18. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I find that quite unlikely.

    I suspect it more likely that there were a wide variety of tango-related dances going on.

    Not all of today's tangos necessarily inherit anything of substance from all of the precursors.

    I wouldn't necessarily consider that true, unless some connection can be drawn between a postulated historical dance and the characteristics of your tango.

    In this case, that connection has been explicitly rejected by the AT posters - which is why I say that even the postulated-history portion of the ABC page has nothing to do with the AT idea of AT.

    But the AT community here keeps screaming that the item on the ABC page is not the history of their tango!

    What's being overlooked is the difference between "Did smelly gauchos dance?" and "Are they in your family tree?" If the answer is that they don't seem to be in your family tree, then does it really matter to you as a subject of passion if they danced or not?

    There is no leaning away in competent ballroom tango incidentally... but that's really beside the point here.
  19. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    And into the fray we jump.

    Here's one thread of development (of many, I'm sure).
    A story from my mentor:

    'Baile Con Corte' (lit. Dance With Stop) came from the 'Barrio de las Ranas' a suburb of disrepute in BAs.
    The nature of the practioners' costumes (ladies' wide full skirts and gents' cowboy boots with spurs--not the chaps--and the shape of the boot's heels) lent themselves to a specific character and movement some of which we see occasionally in modern versions of Tango.
    Shufflling/foot flat movements, higher contact, more open and intimate embrace, etc.
    The young Dons and Gallantes of the region saw this dance and introduced it to other cafes and salons (of questionable repute, one can guess).
    And to differentiate this from its origins, they may have introduced a different rhythm ('habanera')--and gave it a different name: Tango.
    For a long time, one danced it with one's good name at risk.

    What seems to be clear, is that a Frenchman named Rhynal (?) saw it in Argentina around 1900-07.
    It was brought to London and removed of its more objectionable parts (included in the exercise was a Grand Duchess of Russia).

    And contrary to popular belief, it wasn't a bourgeoise mentality that created the overly erect 'international style poise/hold' but rather a bow to the ballet backgrounds of the dance masters of the era (coming in from the Waltz route).

    By 1909-1914, it had shot in popularity in Paris (so much so, that they had an event for it in a championship contest).
    (A side note, the Vatican actually denounced the Tango and the Turkey Trot in 1914 as contributing to the moral decay of the youngsters).

    During WW1, the prewar Tango, along with other dances of the era declined in popularity until early 1920s when an international conference (of several hundred teachers from all over the world) called for some standardization of its music and figures.

    These teachers went home to New York, San Francisco, Paris, London (even perhaps BAs?).

    In the meantime in BAs, the Tango would continue to evolve (not quite in isolation, but heavily influenced by the musical, social, and moral evolution of its host country).
    From here,
    how the postwar modern Tango would diverge into IT (which is well documented), AT, and AM (via Arthur Murray perhaps?), I leave to other more informed posters of this forum.

  20. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    This is a valid point - though as far as i understand the history of tango it was a recognizable, more or less homogenous dance that was identified as tango when it became popular in europe (mainly due to young rich argentines doing a version of the "grand tour"). What they taught in paris to their friends was probably not all that different from what they danced at home.
    We are reading something different into the replies by the AT posters - i felt they didn't reject the connection between AT and BR, but they felt that the history portion of the ABC page was wrong - to correctly depict the history of BR tango it has to be traced back to the immigrant communites of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and then from them to the argentine upperclass partying in Paris. There are plenty of historical documents that track the tango craze in paris, the argentineans like e.g. guiraldes (as he depicts himself in his autobiographical novel), and the way that the tango then spread to paris (and its reception there - the battles in the editorial pages are fun to read (and amazingly similar to the reactions to the waltz :)). Thats why i emphasized OUR dance - at that time (at least before the first codification in 1922) there was only one dance. We can speculate that the lower classes danced a different version of the dance at their dancehalls and cheap brothels than the upper classes at their nightclubs and expensive brothels, but we know of orchestras that played in both environments, and there are a few old tangos with verses like "and the uncle makes sure that they dance open embrace, because while this might be a poor household it is a proper one" (sorry, can't rememeber the cites for any of this).

    But the answer is "No, they are not in our family tree", and "BR tango is in our family tree". It is something of a black sheep, ;) but it is part of the family, and we feel loyalty to it (well, i do). In the same way that everybody here rants on stage tango - we complain because we care. My first reaction was not really "omg, they misrepresent AT", but "omg, they didnt get the history of BR tango right", and thats what i read the OP's reaction to be, too.

    Many AT people are much more interested in early ballroom tango that they admit - there are tons of juicy stories of how tango was received in europe (like e.g. the german kaiser wrote a directive that made it illegal for active military officers to dance tango in public, or how the british royals loved the tango and essentially forced the old school aristrocrats to dance it, or the italian brother and sister who demonstrated the tango to the pope). Modern AT is actually to some extent DERIVED from what people danced in europe: argentinean high society never danced the lower class dance from the slums (well, except the rich kids who went slumming), but it danced the tango they imported from fashionable and cultivated paris.

    So the timeline is something like:
    Early Tango->Early BR tango in europe (codified in 1922)->early modern AT re-imported from Europe

    Then the AT in argentine mixed with the strains that never left, but there is up to today a noticable difference in posture and vocabulary between the more elegant upper class tango (salon) (that was essetnially a import from europe) and other strains.

    Basically early BR tango is an ancestor of modern AT. Thats why we care so much.

    Thats interesting! As i said i have never learned BR style, just watched, and the optical impression is certainly that couples connect at their hips and create some distance between their torsos (which is essentially the opposite of apilado style , where they connect at their torso and create distance between their hips), and my experience with BR trained followers has been that they lean away from me and seem to ask me to maintain connection by
    allowing them to lean into my frame, where a apilado follower would push into me, and ask me to maintian connection by offering my chest). But as always in dance the outward appearance and what really is happening is quite different. Would you mind doing a small threadjack and elaborate on the connection in BR style?


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