Tango is back, the kids are dancing it in Buenos Aires and worldwide, and this is a good thing. It was relegated for many years — especially in Argentina, where it was born — to the status of an old dance done by old people in a rickety sort of way. There were several reasons for this.
Rock and roll came to Argentina in the 1960â€™s with the same force with which it went everywhere. An entire generation of Argentines was raised on the music of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and all those bands that followed after them. Tango became a kind of relic.
Politics also played a roll. When the Argentine military overthrew Isabel PerÃ³nâ€™s government in 1976, tango encountered the disfavor of the ruling generals and the oligarchy that for the most part supported them. Tango dance and music was a product of the by far more populous lower classes, definitely a blue-collar phenomenon.
If all those syndicalists were getting together to dance tango in those huge music halls, they must surely be plotting against the junta as well. Many of the dance halls were closed. Tango was labeled as a smutty undertaking beneath the notice of a properly respectful society, and it wilted as a popular art form.
It was by no means obliterated, though, and musicians and dancers continued developing the form in many important ways. Astor Piazzolla's revolutionary ascendancy, after all, to world fame as a composer and performer was well under way by the mid-seventies.
Superb dancers like Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves who, ten years later, brought their great stage shows to Paris and then the United States — thus re-energizing the worldâ€™s awareness of tango — were then working on their dance in little Buenos Aires clubs and practice rooms and kitchens, honing the art that would eventually bring them such fame.
Tango suffered nonetheless for many years, ignored by the large masses of people that had once worshipped it - an erotic, mournful antique. Now it is center stage once again, in every major city on every continent. Classes, shows, videos, film, writing, and the graphic arts all celebrate tango now, and there seems to be no end in sight. The best part about this is that people under 30-years-old are dancing and teaching tango.