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tango

tan·go / ˈtang/ • n. (pl. -gos) 1. a ballroom dance originating in Buenos Aires, characterized by marked rhythms and postures and abrupt pauses. ∎  a piece of music written for or in the style of this dance, typically in a slow dotted duple rhythm. 2. a code word representing the letter T, used in voice communication by radio. • v. (-goes, -goed) [intr.] dance the tango. PHRASES: it takes two to tango inf. both parties involved in a situation or argument are responsible for it.

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tango

tango. Argentinian dance, possibly imported into America by African slaves, perf. by couples at slow walking pace to mus. in simple duple time and with dotted rhythm like habanera. Became popular ballroom dance after 1907. Some composers have used the tango in their works, e.g. Walton, in his suite Façade, and Stravinsky.

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tango

tango Ballroom dance that originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the late 19th century. Developed from Argentinian milonga, it was a ballroom favourite in Europe and the USA by 1915. It is characterized by quick, long strides and rapid reversals of direction on the balls of the feet.

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tango

tango XX. — Amer. Sp. (locally, dance and music for this, and instrument of the tambourine kind).

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tango

tango •Hidalgo •charango, Durango, fandango, mango, Okavango, quango, Sango, tango •GlasgowArgo, argot, cargo, Chicago, embargo, escargot, farrago, largo, Margot, Otago, Santiago, virago •Lego • Marengo •Diego, galago, Jago, lumbago, sago, Tierra del Fuego, Tobago, Winnebago •amigo, ego, Vigo •bingo, dingo, Domingo, flamingo, gringo, jingo, lingo •Bendigo • indigo • archipelago •vertigo • Sligo •doggo, logo •bongo, Congo, drongo, Kongo, pongo •a-gogo, go-go, pogo, Togo •Hugo •fungo, mungo •ergo, Virgo

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Tango

Tango

Tango, Argentine dance and popular song. The tango first won international notoriety just before World War I. Its origins can be traced to the arrabales (poor outskirts) of Buenos Aires, some time around 1880. It was a spontaneous creation that fused the Spanish-Cuban habanera, the Argentine Milonga, and the dance tradition of Buenos Aires's declining black communities. The tango's definitely lower-class background meant its immediate repudiation by Argentina's upper and middle classes, but this scarcely affected its rise in popularity. In 1913 ("the tango year," in H. G. Wells's phrase), it became the focus of an intense craze in Western Europe, from where it spread to North America. Its initially rather wild steps were gradually modified into an acceptable form for European and Argentine ballrooms. The version exhibited by Rudolph Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) is singularly inauthentic.

The tango's musical tradition, one of the two or three richest in the Western Hemisphere, took shape between 1890 and 1920. The bandoneon, a German-made accordion variant, became the key instrument in the trios and quartets that played the music in the 1900s. The worldwide fame of the tango spelled an end to upper-class disapproval of it in Argentina, where the dance and especially the music entered a genuine golden age from approximately 1920 to 1950, much enhanced by phonograph records, radio programs, and (after 1933) Argentine sound films. The standard tango band, orquestra típica, of the 1920s and early 1930s was a sextet of two bandoneons, two violins, a piano, and a double bass.

In the early 1920s the tango also became a form of popular song, marvelously perfected by the legendary baritone Carlos Gardel (1890–1935). The dance itself was revived strongly in the late 1930s. Tango bands then reached their fullest size, with upward of a dozen players. Perhaps the most brilliant star of this period was the great bandoneon player Aníbal Troilo (1914–1975).

After the early 1950s, tango music lost its supremacy in Argentina, though it retained its share of public affection. Smaller instrumental groups came to replace the magnificent bands of the 1940s, while an "avantgarde" outgrowth of the music developed under the leadership of Astor Piazzolla (1921–1992), who achieved considerable European renown in the 1970s and 1980s.

A musical form rather than a style, the tango should be referred to in English as "the tango," never just as "tango."

See alsoGardel, Carlos; Milonga; Music: Popular Music and Dance.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Deborah L. Jakubs, "From Bawdyhouse to Cabaret: The Evolution of the Tango as an Expression of Argentine Popular Culture," in Journal of Popular Culture 18 (1984): 133-145.

Simon Collier, The Life, Music and Times of Carlos Gardel (1986).

Donald S. Castro, The Argentine Tango as Social History, 1880–1955 (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Baim, Jo. Tango: The Creation of a Cultural Icon. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Collier, Simon, and Ken Haas. Tango! The Dance, the Song, the Story. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Varela, Gustavo. Mal de tango: Historia y genealogía moral de la música ciudadana. Buenos Aires: Paídos, 2005.

                                             Simon Collier

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