Special On-Air Guests from the Michigan Argentine Tango Club

June 17, 2016

Maybe you've been tuning in to Tex's tango show Buenos Aires Hora Cero every Wednesday evening from 6–6:30pm to get your weekly tango fix. If so, you should know that Ann Arbor has a vibrant tango scene, not least of which is the Michigan Argentine Tango Club, a student dance organization right here on U–M campus that welcomes members of all skill levels.

On the June 15, 2016 program of Buenos Aires we welcomed special guests Edmund and Jeff from MATC to talk with DJ Tex about the steamy history of the music, especially the Argentine style, which is the stuff the MATC dances to. As Jeff explains, "The Argentine style, mostly it's from the 30s and 40s. And that music was the golden era, and it was orchestra music that was designed to get people moving in this beautiful way."

During the half hour, they listened to numbers that painted a picture of the evolution of the music. In the 1930s, tango had begun to slow down and become more complex. This music was more suitable for concert halls—but less so for passionate dancing. Juan d'Arienzo, an Argentine tango musician, came to the rescue. "He's 'King of the Beat,'" says Jeff. "He's like, let's make it simple and let's make it rocking. And everyone was like, I can dance to this!"

Just as there was a push towards faster, more dance-worthy music in the 30s, there was a counter-push by musicians who wanted "more variation, more complexity" than the simple dance music. As Edmund explains, there was both an artistic and cultural tension: "In the early era in the 1900s, 1890s, 1910, tango was for the lower class. And then once it got exported to Paris and New York in the 1910–1915 time, then it became popular with the upper class." This is when it slowed down to concert-hall music. But during the Golden Age of tango, it transitioned back to dancing music, and "everyone could come and dance to it."

Golden Age Argentine musicians like Lucio Demare innovated by combining the rhythmic and lyrical elements, which is perhaps why it's so addicting to dance to. If you've never tangoed before, the MATC has free beginner lessons every Wednesday in Mason Hall room 1401 at 8pm.

They also have plenty of other events throughout the week, which you can find on their Facebook page or at umich.edu/~matc. Edmund and Jeff said they might be back next week, so don't touch that dial, and join us next Wednesday at 6!