Tangomania (New York)

It wasn’t long before tango reached Paris in the 1910’s, soon after it began gaining popularity in Buenos Aires cafes and nightclubs. The tangomania  made it’s way from Paris to other parts of Europe, including London where tango became ultra fashionable with high society around 1913, [3]. From London tangomania made it’s way to New York where it conquered the public for the first time through a British musical presented on Broadway in 1914. [1]

Though there is evidence that tango was present in the US earlier in the 1900’s, it seems like the impact of this first contact was minimal. There is evidence that Los Gobbi came to the Philadephia in 1905 to record for Victor Talking Machine and were back in New York in 1911 to record with Columbia [1] and that El Cachafaz was invited to perform in the US in 1911 but nothing to suggest that their presence made a strong impression on the American public.

The first sign of popular interest for tango in the United States came with the presentation of “The Sunshine Girl”, a British musical  which had been a huge success in London in 1913. The American version presented on Broadway featured a couple of American ballroom dancers, Vernon and Irene Castle, who immediately became a reference for tango dancing and began teaching in the US. [2]

One year later tango was a huge phenomenon in New York. People gathered to dance at “tango teas”, [3] which were held in restaurants and hotels in the London fashion. Tango dancing was a scandal and a sensation at once and there is abundant evidence in newspapers that these gatherings were the object of a strong public controversy. It’s in one of these establishments that Rudolph Valentino worked as a taxi dancer before he made his way to Hollywood were he became a start dancing tango in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”  in 1921.

The tangomania  came to an end in New York around 1918.  π

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[1] Groppa, Carlos G. The tango in the United States. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 2004. Print.

[2] Castle, Vernon, and Irene Castle. “Teaching argentine tango in New York, 1914.” Todotango. Web. Aug 2016. Online. http://www.todotango.com/english/history/chronicle/ 99/Teaching-Argentine-Tango-in-New-York-1914/  

[3] Holland, Evangeline. “Tango Teas and tangocitis”. Edwardian Promenade. Web. Aug 2916. Online. http://www.edwardianpromenade.com/dance/tango-teas-and-tangocitis/ 

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