In his book, Montauk Tango, Dr. Gross explains how his main characters, Tracy and Lewis, used the Tango to tear down walls and build bridges between Montauk locals and their family restaurant, The 668 Gig Shack. How could a silly dance have such impressive power?
The Tango is no silly dance. In fact, the dance has its own music genre—tango music is a genre.
With inspiration from the Cuban habanera, Argentine milong and candobe, and African dance, the Tango is thought to have originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the word “Tango” originated just before the turn of the 20th Century. Some historians believe that it was first practiced in Cuba and Spain years before. One variety of Tango, the flamenco, has roots from Europe’s minuet dances. The widespread popularity of the Tango comes from its fashionable Paris popularity in the early 20th Century.
The Argentine Tango
While the dance’s flame fizzled for a bit, in the 1940s, the most elegant form of Tango was danced by the upper class in Buenos Aires. In 1955, a government coup turned Argentina on its head, and the Tango died out. Between 1955 and 1983, the Tango was not taught or practiced in Argentina. However, in ’83, just following the Falklands War, a Tango Renaissance began.
In the modern United States, the Tango is practiced by enthusiasts across the nation, in ballrooms, back rooms, homes, and at festivals. It seems anyone who is captivated by the dance’s spell becomes addicted, passionate for life. Elements of the Tango’s influence are seen in figure skating, synchronized swimming, gymnastics, and other dances. The drama and movement are exquisite to watch, and to feel. Scientists have discovered that the Tango may even be beneficial to people with Parkinson’s disease and similar neurological disorders. Apparently, the balance and motions, including walking backward, stimulate the brain in ways that other exercise does not. This just goes to prove the power that the Tango has on the mind.
It’s no wonder, then, that this rich and exotic dance can touch people—including Montauk locals—like no other activity could. To learn more about the Tango’s history and style, visit these websites: