The Dark Age of Tango

Tango, just like many other art mediums, has also gone through a dark phase. When General Juan Perón was ousted in 1955, it brought about a myriad of consequences to the whole of Argentina. The new military government was made up of elite members of society who did not have an understanding of the mass culture of Argentina. Tango was not part of their norm. To them, it was the dance of the poor and inferior.

In addition to that, they seemed to have a prejudice on anything related to or can be associated with Perón. They believed that anything Perón said and believed in were wrong. Just like Perón, Tango was both national and popular and is something that can be identified with Perón as he had used it for his political campaigns. Many tango artists had been involved with the Pro-Perón movement and had been either imprisoned or blacklisted as a consequence.

A nightly gathering of men in the social halls of political associations to dance was regarded suspicious and was thought to be an undeniable disguise for political upheaval. As a result, the new regime devised ways to curb the growth of Tango, if only to cripple the opposing organisations and prevent an uprising.

Because banning Tango was impossible, specific songs were banned and some song titles were revised. The new government’s restrictive measures had put a strain on dance. Curfews were imposed and meetings involving more than three people were forbidden. It made things difficult for Tango with it being a social dance held mostly during the night.

Tango Classes BrisbaneThere had been one particular attack made against Tango that was very subtle yet clever at the same time. The military government started banning minors in nightclubs. What made it even more offensive was that it strictly imposed on Tango clubs only. For some reason, some clubs such as the Rock and Roll ones were spared. It was viewed to be a deliberate strike against tango as boys and girls abruptly stopped learning Tango and went to Rock and Roll clubs instead. Back then, going to dances was the way for men and women to meet. So, if they cannot meet through Tango, they will move on to the next club where they can gather and socialise.

The new regime, although particularly conservative, oddly enough supported and encouraged a rather rough and callous dance like Rock and Roll, especially during the time when the rest of the world seemed adamant in stopping young people from dancing to this wild new music. Why? Because it conveniently served its purpose to the regime. It was undeniably the biggest competition of Tango and they used it to their advantage and they used it well.

The dark era spanned from 1955 until 1983, the fall of the military junta which took place after the Falklands War. No one learned how to dance Tango in the period of 28 years that the military government reigned. However, Tango did not completely disappear. Tango just went underground and many people still went to dance. Some professional Tango dancers made a living out of teaching Tango and made choreographies for shows as an attraction for the foreign market. And slowly Tango was reborn.