The period of tango history called guardia nueva goes approximately from 1925 to 1955 and can be divided into two phases; a first phase of restructuring (transformación, 1925-1940), followed by a peak in creativity and popularity of tango commonly referred to as the golden age of tango (Exaltación 1940-1955).
The first sign of a transition can be traced back to 1917 with the recording of the first tango canción “Mi noche triste“. By establishing a new standard for tango poetry, Pascual Contursi and Carlos Gardel opened a whole new chapter of tango history. However it would take some years for tango music to begin 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 Gadel began his solo career, and this is where the transition is completed to the gardia nueva.
Another 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, opening the way to the golden age of the 1940’s.
During the exaltación phase, tango dance and music both reached a 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 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 became the music of the youth. After that point tango continued to evolve into the vanguardia but it was no longer the mainstream phenomenon it once was. π