Here at the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio, we love everything involving ballroom dance, from the music to the choreography to the costumes. Dancing plays an important role in a variety of different cultures and ethnicities worldwide. One of the most famous dances hails from the slums of Argentina, which is the tango. Filled with longing and sensuality, the tango is an absolutely extraordinary dance to witness. Would you like to learn a little more about the history of the tango? Let us enlighten you:


The exact origins of the tango remain unknown, but in the mid-1800s, African slaves were influencing the local culture in Argentina. In the late 1800s, Argentina experienced a massive integration of Europeans hoping to make their fortune in America. Unfortunately, the waves of mostly Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Irish, and German immigrants experienced debilitating poverty upon their arrival to Argentina.

Dancing in the Slums

Life proved to be difficult and heartbreaking for many of these immigrants, and they lived and worked in the most horrible conditions. Many of the immigrants worked from dawn until dusk in the blistering heat and musky stench of the meat packing houses along the Riachuelo in Buenos Aires. Some of the immigrants lived five and six to a room if they lived in a home at all. Other immigrants lived in sewer pipes stored in an empty lot.

An Escape from Reality

No matter how horrible their living conditions, the night time was always the worst time for the impoverished immigrants, which is why they would gather on street corners on the city’s outskirts or hit up the local seedy watering hole . At these areas, the immigrants would dull their pain with cheap wine and sing sad love songs about the women that they left behind in their homeland.

The First Dance

Originally, this dance was actually performed between two men, and it was danced ballet-style to express two men engaged in mortal combat, which often ended in real-life fights. This dance was also meant to express their hopes as well as their sadness.

Women Enter the Picture

Argentina also featured a large number of prostitutes to offer some relief to the men living in such squalor. As men started dancing their dance of sorrow and hope in the local brothels, the prostitutes wanted in on the action. These prostitutes also envisioned a business opportunity to participating in this dance. By rubbing their bodies against the male dancers, excited male onlookers would provide business for the ladies of the night. The tango soon evolved into a dance between a man and a woman, and it was danced not only in brothels, but various other seedy establishments as well.

A Surge in Popularity

Around the turn of the century, Argentina began to prosper, and sons of wealthy businessmen escaped to the rougher parts of town seeking excitement. They learned the tango, and showed it off to their wealthy Parisian friends. The Parisians wholeheartedly embraced this dance, causing its popularity to surge in all social classes in Argentina.

Are you interested in taking adult dance classes in Alexandria so that you can learn the tango? Contact the Modern Ballroom Dance Studio today.