The Early Days of Tango

Tango dance Brisbane
Tango dance Brisbane

It was not uncommon for men to pair up with other men when dancing Tango during what was believed to be its Golden Age. The first thing that men learn in Tango is to be a follower, then, after about a year (and when enough expertise had been achieved) they would be taught the role of being a leader. People understood that it was generally because women were not allowed to go to practices which is why men had to practice with other men to prepare them in meeting women at the milongas.

A typical milonga congregation in the early days had more men than women. This means that the level of competition among men was significantly higher and, as a matter of course, higher skilled male dancers get to have a higher chance to dance with the girls compared to the lesser skilled ones.

The women’s part in being the inspirational influence of men for wanting to learn Tango was not clearly established at all. However, it was firmly believed that Tango began in the brothels, basing on the eroticism of the movements and the sex laden imagery of the song titles.

In the late 1800s, prostitution in different forms was commonplace as flocks of mostly male immigrants arrived, further elevating the demand in the sex industry specifically in the lower-class areas where Tango was believed to be born. Thus, men danced with men due to the unavailability of women and used their Tango skills to meet and attract women in brothels.

At that time, brothels in Buenos Aires were disguised as dance schools or cafes as they were known to be illegal. There, men danced Tango with women and engaged in sexual activities in exchange for money. The presence of men in the brothels were primarily for the purpose of obtaining sex with women and Tango just became a good excuse for them to be able to do so.