Personal Reflections    

Tango dancing was born in Paris.
This article was published on the magazine  Punto Tango Nº 32

A lot has been written about Carlos Gardel being born in Tolouse (France), or in Tacuarembó (Uruguay). Beyond town-prides, I have never understood well what this discussion about a census data regarding his place of birth could contribute to his artistic background and the tango´s.
A lot has also been read or heard, most of the time with little serious analysis in connection with the influence or not of afro- elements in tango.
On my part, I take into account an aspect which deserves some more research and spreading than the one known: the influence of France (Paris) on the tango dance.
Just as a sample of the intense, fruitful and privileged relationship between Paris and Buenos Aires, we can find: 1) more than 300 tango songs make reference to Paris, its neighborhoods, characters and language, 2) Montmartre is more present in the tango lyrics than any street or neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
Likewise, there were two periods of strong French incidence for the acknowledgment and development of the tango dance in Buenos Aires, its place of conception.
The first one (1906-1913, it arrives to Paris from Marseille). It is possible that the existing choreographies, even those related to waltz (or the lust-dance as it was known) could not satisfy the expressive needs of the time. Then, this exotic dance appears, and it settles strongly in the Parisian high-society. The fashion extends not only to the dance in the ball-rooms, but also to the social ceremonies (tango-tea party), the attires, the colors (orange is the color of tango), etc.
If at that time England was the economic center, France was the cultural center. As a historic world landmark of culture and fashion, in order to succeed anywhere, at anything, it was mandatory to succeed first in Paris. By 1912, in Buenos Aires there are newspapers, articles and travelers’ comments referring to the significant prevailing of tango dancing in Paris. Only then it is accepted by the high and middle-class of Buenos Aires, and thereafter its installation as music of all social classes occurs.
The second period: 1983- on. Since 1950, a slow decay of tango began in Buenos Aires. In 1983 a singing and dancing show called Tango Argentino was premiered in Paris, it was a great success and it was later shown in the U.S.A. Since then, what we could call the second period of the golden years of tango dancing began. If in the first period, Paris ´contribution focused on the choreography, in the second period its contribution was more connected with a new spreading. As a singing and dancing show it succeeded later in the U.S.A. and in many other countries, and it came back to settle again to Buenos Aires.
Therefore, it could be said that originally the tango dance was conceived in Buenos Aires, but it was born (and re-born) in Paris.

This article was published on the magazine  Punto Tango Nº 32

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