Most dance experts agree that the Tango’s origins lie in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay, but most also agree that immigrants from many countries all over the world who lived in Argentina and Uruguay influenced the Tango. In fact, the word “tango,” one theory says, comes from the Niger Congo languages of Africa. Another theory says that the word first described a type of music in Andalusia (Espinoza). The word “tango” does also describe a style of music, but it does not refer to the same types of music in Argentina and Uruguay as it does in Andalusia. Tango music incorporates some ancient African rhythms and some music from Europe. The music, like the dance, is filled with passion and lends itself perfectly to the slower tempo dance performed on stages and in ballrooms the world over.
Tango originated in immigrant, working class neighborhoods, where life is not always easy. Because of its origins, the dance movements include dramatic movements with lots of passion and feeling. The movement of the legs and the “suggestive posture” was “developed in bars and brothels as foreplay to commercial sex between 1895 and 1920, when Buenos Aires, with a disproportion of male immigrants, was a notorious hub of the white slave trade” (Durbin). Some of the dances that influenced it include the Cuban habanera, the Uruguayan milonga and candombe, as well as some African and European dances. The current styles of Tango arose in Argentina and Uruguay in the mid-1800s. However, there are written records of the Tango having been danced in Cuba and Spain prior to that time, and Tango also derives from the minuet-style European dances. Really though Tango was influenced by the cultures of many peoples. Tango is often deemed the music and dance of the immigrants to Argentina during the early years of the twentieth century. The dance spread to Paris, then London, Berlin and other European capitals in the years before World War I. Finally, just before war broke out, the Tango made it to New York and Finland.