Argentine Tango as a dance form developed in the mid to late 19th century in Argentina and Uruguay. The rhythmic roots of Tango evolved from African and Cuban rhythms, especially the “habanera.” Once considered a dance of the common folk, its export to Europe in the early 20th century brought it wider recognition and popularity among all classes.
The fullest expression of Tango was in Argentina from the mid 1920’s until the late 1950’s, primarily in Buenos Aires. Tango’s apex was the “Golden Age” which ran from about 1935 to 1955 after which the popularity of the dance and its music began to fade. There were a number reasons for this including the advent of Rock & Roll, Jazz, political changes, and the generational pressures of “that was my parent’s thing.”
In the 1980’s Tango was re-discovered and the dance and its music have found new generations of dancers and musicians. Its acceptance and adoption is now worldwide where “Milongas” (evenings of social dancing) can be found in every major city.
Tango is an improvised dance where the non-verbal conversation between dancers creates each moment in real time. Thus it is often considered, especially by those devoted to this form, to be the pinnacle of social dances.
The Primary “Golden Age” Tango Orchestras
The Three Rhythms of Tango
The “beat” of Tango had its genesis in the “Habanera” rhythms of Cuba and Africa, and tempo of the dance is generally a walking speed of around 60 beats per minute. Here are two examples of Tangos. The first example below is an early recording in which one can hear the underlying Habanera rhythm. In later years, the Habanera rhythm becomes more implied or even vanishes all-together.
by Orquesta Francisco Canaro (1929)
by Orquesta Anibal Troilo (1941)
Throughout the course of a Milonga (an evening of social dancing) there is formula for playing different music. Sets of Tangos (tandas) are interspersed with tandas of Vals or Milongas. Vals in tango is music in 3/4 time with tempos that are similar to Viennese Waltz. In Tango Vals the dancers primarily step on the “one” with beats “two” and “three” being used for variations.
by Orquesta Juan D’Arienzo (1937)
Tandas of Milongas (the dance form, as opposed to the term used to indicate a social dance event) are quicker in tempo than regular tangos and usually exhibit a very clear “habanera” rhythm. They, like Valses, are interspersed to interrupt the often more serious mood of regular tangos. Throughout the course of an evening of dancing, the DJ will establish a regular pattern of tandas, usually: Tango, Tango, Vals, Tango, Tango, Milonga. That pattern is then repeated throughout the milonga.
by Orquesta Carlos Di Sarli (1941)
DJ Paul Lohman
(AKA: DJ Pablo)
As a lifelong Minnesotan, Paul discovered that a good hug was important to surviving the winters and thus enthusiastically “embraced” Tango. His love of the dance and of tango music along with his degrees in music combined to create his passion for DJing. He regularly hosts milongas and events in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul including: Milonga Alquimía, Costa Norte, and Milonga Tango con~Fusion. And he has DJed for numerous other milongas and festivals including: The Maui Embrace, The Colorado Tango Festival, The Twin Cities Tango Marathon (with Sexteto Milonguero), the Heartland Tango Festival and the Tango Teacher Co-op.
Paul also teaches classes in tango musicality focusing on the history of tango music and orchestras. (see below)
He is the founder of the Twin Cities “Costa Norte DJ Crew” and the host of Milonga Tango con~Fusion.
Tango Music and Musicality Classes
Tango Dance Music
- Origins, History, and Chronology
How Things End
- Identifying Four Orchestras by Their Signature Endings
The BIG Four
- An Exploration of the Di Sarli, D’Arienzo, Troilo, and Pugliese Orchestras
The Tango Singer
- Three different types of tango singers explained
Individual Orchestra Explorations
- Juan D’Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Anibal Troilo, Osvaldo Fresedo, Francisco Canaro
Dancing to D’Arienzo
- The Threes, Fives, Sevens, Nines, and Thirteens