Figure 1: Political map of Argentina. Source: 1998 National Geographic
The tango is a part of Argentina that is undeniably one of the most important aspects of life for the Argentine people. It is through the tango that Argentines can are able express their culture to others. The tango, although born in the brothels, has taken its popularity mainstream. The tango's erotic flair also provides a look at gender roles within the Argentinean society as the female has a chance to be dominant in the dance. The International Tango Festival in Argentina has in recent years popularized the tango and as a result generated a large amount of capital through tourism.
Program cover for the 2004
International Tango Festival (Source: International
Tango Festival Website) Figure 3: Miguel Ángel
Solá and Mía Maestro demonstrate the tango.
(Source: Sony Pictures)
Program cover for the 2004 International Tango Festival (Source: International Tango Festival Website)
Figure 3: Miguel Ángel Solá and Mía Maestro demonstrate the tango. (Source: Sony Pictures)
The International Tango Festival is a means of intensifying the importance of the tango by attracting people from all around the world to come and participate. Argentina is the birthplace of the tango and this vibrant dance is an important part of life for all Argentineans. People of Argentina use the tango dance as a mode of expression and celebration. Each year thousands of people pour into Buenos Aires to celebrate this art form by participating in the International Tango Festival. Figure 2 shows a copy of the program of this festival. This week long celebration draws visitors from all over the world. During this week in Buenos Aires many workshops take place were people can learn the tango regardless of ability level. The International Tango Festival draws attention to the evolution of gender roles and also provides a financial boost for Argentina 's economy.
Argentina is located in Southern South America bordering the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It is situated between the countries of Chile and Uruguay . Argentina is mostly temperate with some arid areas in the southeast while part of the southwest lies in the sub Antarctic. It is the second largest country in South America and it boasts the highest point in South American in the Cerro Aconcagua Mountain . (The CIA World Factbook 2004) http://www.geoamerica.com/info/argen.html
Pre-Columbian Argentina was farmed by Indian groups such as the Diaguita and was occupied by nomads. Indian resistance inhibited Spanish invasion and discouraged Spanish settlement. Buenos Aires was not successfully established until 1580, and was fairly insignificant for 200 years. It had a declining Indian population which resulted in a decrease in the amount of available laborers. As a result, the creation of huge cattle ranches, known as haciendas arose. The creation of the gaucho became the source of great wealth for a lucky few that were able to prosper off of their land. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Argentina 's economy grew as wheat farms and cattle ranches spread our across flat, fertile grasslands. Rail roads lead into the booming port of Buenos Aires . By 1930, Argentina boasted the seventh largest economy in the world (Lewis 2001: 210).
The word tango has no clear etymology. However, it may be derived from the Spanish and Portuguese word ‘tocar' which means to play or touch. However, it is more commonly thought of from its Niger-Congo origin, where tamgu means ‘to dance'. The name has also been used in some types of African dance forms. All these possibilities lead up to what we now know the tango to be. (Encyclopedia Britannica)
The origin of the tango is not completely understood. A popular belief is that the tango was born in the brothels. This would account for its risqué movements and suggestive titles such as "El choclo" (the corn-cob), "El fierrazo" (the iron rod). Ricardo Garcia Blaya, a contemporary writer on tango , claims that the brothel theory is "nothing is more absurd and incorrect." The tango, he insists, was born in the dance halls (Economist 2001: 37).
The tango is known as a provocative dance with a style all its own. As we can see in Figure 4 the dance requires an intimate rhythm between the partners that appears almost erotic. However, the dancers know that it is an art form that requires exceptional coordination and balance. The orchestra in the background is almost essential to a traditional tango dance because it provides a carefully choreographed tempo for dancers to follow. The Argentine dance is a metaphor for the complexities of gender roles in a male dominated society (Women's International Network News 1990). In the dance, men lead and women follow, but women express themselves through numerous ornamentations, slowing down and speeding up movements, and can take the initiative for certain steps. When a separation of the two dancers occurs, the women are given an opportunity to be the leader of the dance. There are also female teachers (maestras) of the tango . This can sometimes provide uneasiness for men who are participating. In tango the contradictions of gendered power structures remain unresolved and are ultimately played out through the dance. The viewer sees equilibrium of leadership and control between the two partners (Schneider 1998: 16).
Figure 4. A picture from the Miami based Jorge Nel performing group. Source: Tango in Miami
As of current day, the popularity of the Argentinean tango is on the rise. We are now seeing this already popular dance becoming more appealing to women. The majority of this popularity has to do with the broadcasting of tango music via radio. When the tango entered households via the radio, it attracted a new audience; women. In addition, the tango is cutting across class lines and is not just considered a lower class source of entertainment. It is a nationally enjoyed dance that has even entered the church. One pastor, Monsignor Gustavo Franceschi, saw this pervasive tango invasion as “an example of the general loosening of the moral fabric of Argentine society” (Castro 1999: 93). The dance is not associated with prostitution as it once was some time ago. Thanks to celebrations like the International Tango Festival and national support, the popularity of the Argentinean tango will continue to grow.
“Argentina.” Encyclopedia Britannica . 22 nd ed. 2004
1998 National Geographic http://plasma.nationalgeographic.com/mapmachine
This site was created by National Geographic in order to provide geographical information for its readers.
International Tango Festival 2004 http://www.worldtangofestival.com.ar/
This site was designed by the people of Argentina in order to attract tourists to attend their festival.
Lewis, Daniel K. The History of Argentina . New York : Palgrave and McMillan, 2001.
This site was designed by Sony Pictures in order to advertise its new movie Tango
Tango in Miami http://www.tangoinmiami.com/photogallery/photo.htm
This site was created by Jorge Nel in order to popularize the tango through pictures.
The CIA Factbook 2004 http://www.geoamerica.com/info/argen.html
This site was created by the CIA in order to provide factual information to the general public.
“ Constitutional Reform Proposed By National Women's Meeting.”
International Network News . 16 (1990). 19 Oct. 2004
2001 “A Sense of Where You Are.” Economist. Dec. 2001: 37. 13 Oct. 2004
Castro, Donald S.
Massification of the Tango.” Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 18(1):93. 10 Nov. 2004 http://search.epnet.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,url,uid&db=aph&an=3843601
Fernandez, Marcelo B.
2002 “Tango Reissues To Reap Pesos?” Billboard 108(49):30. 13 Oct. 2004
2003a “And They Still Tango.” National Geographic. 204(36):34. 2 Oct. 2004
2003b “The Home of Tango.” Americas . 55(3): 3-5. 3 Oct. 2004
1998 “Tales Of Terror and Tango.” Anthropology Today . 14(6):16.
15 Oct. 2004