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***On Saturday, October 6, 2018 the Golden Lion Lounge was closed unexpectdly due to the bartender calling out sick. We are pushing the start of the Argentine Series to October 13th which in turn will push the West Coast Swing Series to start on November 10th. Thank you for your understanding.***


 

October is the Month for Argentine Tango!

Argentine Tango

4-Week Series

October 13 - November 3, 2018

7:00 - 8:30 pm

$45 Preregister all 4 weeks

$15 per Drop In Class

Golden Lion Lounge - Best Western Hotel

1000 E 36th Ave

Anchorage, AK 99508

Dancer

Argentine Tango -- A Brief History

by Susan August Brown


The exact origins of tango—both the dance and the word itself—are lost in myth and an unrecorded history. The generally accepted theory is that in the mid-1800s, the African slaves who had been brought to Argentina or their descendants began to influence the local culture. The word “tango” may be straightforwardly African in origin, meaning “closed place” or “reserved ground.” Or it may derive from Portuguese (and from the Latin verb tanguere, to touch) and was picked up by Africans on the slave ships. Whatever its origin, the word “tango” had acquired the standard meaning of the place where African slaves and free blacks gathered to dance by the time Argentina banned slavery in 1853.

During the later part of the 1800s and early 1900s, Argentina was undergoing a massive immigration. In 1869, Buenos Aires had a population of 180,000. By 1914, its population was 1.5 million. The intermixing of African, Spanish, Italian, British, Polish, Russian and native-born Argentines resulted in a melting pot of cultures, and each borrowed dance and music from one another. Traditional polkas, waltzes and mazurkas were mixed with the popular habanera from Cuba and the candombe rhythms from Africa.

Most immigrants were single men hoping to earn their fortunes in this newly expanding country. They were typically poor and desperate, hoping to make enough money to return to Europe or bring their families to Argentina. The evolution of tango reflects their profound sense of loss and longing for the people and places they left behind.

Most likely, rudimentary dance forms that may have been known as “tango” were developed in African-Argentine dance venues. These venues were frequented by compadritos, young men—mostly native born, poor and of mixed ancestry—who liked to dress in slouch hats, loosely tied neckerchiefs and high-heeled boots with knives tucked casually into their belts. The compadritos took the dance to the Corrales Viejos—the slaughterhouse district of Buenos Aires—and introduced it in various low-life establishments where dancing took place: bars, dance halls and brothels. It was in these tenements where the African rhythms met the Argentine milonga music (a fast-paced polka). Soon new steps were invented and took hold as a new form of dance that combined traditions from many cultures. Exactly when and where the various forms of dance and music combined to create what became widely understood as tango is unclear. What is clear was that tango was considered a dance from the poor barrios.

Although high society looked down upon the activities in the barrios, well-heeled sons of the porteño oligarchy were not averse to slumming. Eventually, everyone found out about the tango and, by the beginning of the twentieth century, the tango as both a dance and as an embryonic form of popular music had established a firm foothold in the fast-expanding city of its birth. It soon spread to provincial towns of Argentina and across the River Plate to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where it became as much a part of the urban culture as in Buenos Aires.

The worldwide spread of the tango came in the early 1900s when wealthy sons of Argentine society families made their way to Paris and introduced the tango into a society eager for innovation and not entirely averse to the risqué nature of the dance or dancing with young, wealthy Latin men. By 1913, the tango had become an international phenomenon in Paris, London and New York. There were tango teas, tango train excursions and even tango colors—most notably orange. The Argentine elite who had shunned the tango were now forced into accepting it with national pride.

The tango spread worldwide throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The dance appeared in movies and tango singers traveled the world. By the 1930s, the Golden Age of Argentina was beginning. The country became one of the ten richest nations in the world and music, poetry and culture flourished. The tango came to be a fundamental expression of Argentine culture, and the Golden Age lasted through the 1940s and 1950s.

Tango’s fortunes have always been tied to economic conditions and this was very true in the 1950s. During this time, as political repression developed, lyrics reflected political feelings until they started to be banned as subversive. The dance and its music went underground as large dance venues were closed and large gatherings in general were prohibited. The tango survived in smaller, unpublicized venues and in the hearts of the people.

The necessity of going underground combined with the eventual invasion of rock and roll sent the tango into decline until the mid-1980s when the stage show Tango Argentino opened in Paris. Once again Paris was ground zero for igniting tango excitement worldwide. The show toured the world and stimulated a revival in Europe, North America and Japan that we are part of today (Argentine Tango de Tejas, 2000-2014).


November is the Month for West Coast Swing!

WEST  COAST  SWING

4 - WEEK SERIES

NOVEMBER 10 - December 6, 2018

7:00 - 8:30 PM

$45 Preregister all 4 weeks

$15 per Drop in Class

Golden Lion Lounge - Best Western Hotel

1000 E 36th Ave

Anchorage, AK 99508

Dancer

September is the month for Bachata!

BACHATA

4 - WEEK SERIES

SEPTEMBER 1 - 22, 2018

7:15 - 8:45 PM

$45.00 Preregister all 4 weeks

$15 per Drop in Class

Golden Lion Lounge - Best Western Hotel

1000 E 36th Ave

Anchorage, AK 99508

What is Bachata?

Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world but not identically.

The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat. The knees should be slightly bent so the performer can sway the hips easier. The movement of the hips is very important because it’s a part of the soul of the dance. Generally, most of the dancer’s movement is in the lower body up to the hips, and the upper body moves much less.

In partnering, the lead can decide whether to perform in open or closed position. Dance moves, or step variety, during performance strongly depends on the music (such as the rhythms played by the different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike Salsa, Bachata dance does not usually include complex turn patterns but they are used more and more as the dance evolves. The leading is done just like in most other social dances, with a “pushing and pulling” hand and arm communication. Hand and arm communication is better conveyed when most of the movement is performed by the lower body (from waist down); i.e. hips and footwork. Bachata is commonly known by many as a very sensual dance. To most it may seem that way, however, that is not what it is intended to be taken as. Bachata is a dance, done by a person with another, to express the feelings one has for a specific other. It is believed by most, that the more smoothly and more frequently the hips are used and moved, the more feelings the individual has for the other. With that said bachata originated as a sort of “mating call,” if you were selected for a dance of bachata, you were chosen as a mate, two dances with the same individual, “sealed the deal.”

The original dance style from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean is a basic dance sequence is a full 8 count moving within a square. Dancers in the Western World later began developing a more simple pattern, also in a full 8 count, but with a side-to-side motion. Both Styles consist of 3 steps normal and then a tap step. The tap is often accompanied by a “pop” of the hips, and is sometimes substituted with syncopations (steps in between the beats – some similar to cha-cha-cha steps and others much different). Bachata music has an accent in rhythm at every fourth count. Often, this is when dancers will tap-step & pop their hips – this is called dancing bachata to the music (because the first step after the pop falls on the 1st beat of the measure). But bachata can be danced to different timings as well if it’s danced to one particular instrument instead. The tab or ‘pop’ is done in the opposite direction of the last step, while the next step is taken on the same direction as the tap or pop. The dance direction changes after the tap or fourth step. (Incognito Dance, 2012).