The period of tango history called guardia nueva goes approximately from 1925 to 1955 and can be divided into two phases. A phase of restructuring which fully begins with the transition to the 8X4 rhythm. The second phase is characterized by a peak in creativity and popularity, commonly referred to as the golden age of tango.
According to Horacio Ferrer and the Academia nacional del tango, these two phases would be the Transformación (1925-1940) and the Exaltación (1940-1955).
The first sign of a transition towards the guardia nueva can be traced back to 1917 with the recording of “Mi noche triste” by Carlos Gardel, which establishes a new standard for tango poetry. Tango music also goes through its own renovation process with Julio de Caro and the introduction of the compass of 8/4. De Caro formed his first sexteto in 1924, one year before Carlos Gardel began his solo career, and this is where the transition from the gardia vieja is regarded as completed.
An important figure of the guardia nueva is Juan d’Arienzo whose strong beat and energetic style appealed to the youth of the 1930’s. By engaging a new generation of dancers and putting tango back in fashion, D’Arienzo gave a second life to tango and opened the way to the creations of a new generation of tango orquestras and to the golden age of tango.
During the exaltación phase, tango dance and music both reached their peak in terms of popularity and refinement. Different styles emerged from the work of innovative directors such as Anibal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli, Rodolfo Biagi and Osvaldo Pugliese. Tango was everywhere during the golden age, not only in the cabarets and dance halls but also in movies, radio programs, carnivals, theaters, streets and homes.
The golden age of tango came to an end around 1955 as rock and roll gained populirity with the youth. Tango continued to evolve into the vanguardia but it was no longer the popular mainstream phenomenon it once was. It remained alive but somehow became a thing of the past.