The dance form derives from the Cuban habanera, the Argentine milonga and candombe, and is said to contain elements from the African community in Buenos Aires, influenced both by ancient African rhythms and the music from Europe.
In Argentina, the word Tango seems to have first been used in the 1890s. In 1902 the Teatro Opera started to include tango in their balls. Initially tango was just one of the many available local dances, but it soon became popular throughout society, as theatres and street barrel organs spread it from the suburbs to the working-class slums, which were packed with hundreds of thousands of European immigrants. The development of the Tango had influences from the cultures of several peoples that came together in these melting pots of ethnicities. For this reason Tango is often referred to as the music of the immigrants to Argentina.
During the period 1903–1910 over a third of the 1,000 gramophone records released were of tango music, and tango sheet music sold in large quantities. In 1910 the bandoneon was introduced to Buenos Aires from Germany and it became linked inextricably with tango music from then on. In 1912, Juan "Pacho" Maglio was very popular with his recorded tangos featuring the bandoneon accompanied by flute, violin and guitar. Between 1910 and 1920, tango featured on 2,500 of the 5,500 records released.
By 1912, dancers and musicians from Buenos Aires travelled to Europe and the first European tango craze took place in Paris, soon followed by London, Berlin, and other capitals. Towards the end of 1913 it hit New York in the USA, and Finland. These exported versions of Tango were modified to have less body contact ("Ballroom Tango"); however, the dance was still thought shocking by many, as had earlier been the case with dances such as the Waltz. In 1922 guidelines were first set for the "English" (international) style of ballroom tango, but it lost popularity in Europe to new dances including the Foxtrot and Samba, and as dancing as a whole declined due to the growth of cinema.
In 1917, folk singer Carlos Gardel recorded his first tango song Mi Noche Triste, forever associating tango with the feeling of tragic love as revealed in the lyric.
All photographs and video posted here were shot at the Gala Dinner at the Raintree Club, Kuala Lumpur during the 5th Kuala Lumpur Tango Festival which took place from 8th to 11th March 2012, organized by Marguerite Brodie and Andreas Lehrke. Marguerite and Andreas started Tango Malaysia which run tango classes and workshops at various locations in KL.