[Tango-L] Chicago Tango Community Celebrates Tango?s African Roots during Black History Month

Ernest Williams alohatango2002 at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 8 16:22:38 EST 2008

In celebration of Black History Month, Chicago tango
organizers are shining a spotlight on the African
influence on Latin dances, especially their beloved
South American dances of tango, candombe and
canyengue.  Two free public events will be offered in
February to introduce Chicagoans to the African
history in Argentina and Uruguay and to illustrate the
African influence on the foundations of Argentinean
and Uruguayan music and dance.

The first event will be the Tango Negro Reception on
February 8th, from 6:30-8:30pm with dance
performances, films and a brief presentation by Ernest
Williams, of Tango Life Inc., illustrating the African
origins of tango and candombe.  During the reception
the tango community will also honor Afro-Argentine
tango masters Facundo and Kely Posadas for their
contributions to tango.  Ther reception will be
followed by a traditional tango social dance, entitled
“Tango Negro Milonga” to allow visitors and dancers to
experience the Afro-centric music tangos, canyengues,
milongas and candombes.  The Milonga is from
8:30-1:00am and is open to the public.  The
exploration will continue on February 22nd, with a
more formal educational presentation dealing in the
rich and diverse Afro-Uruguayan and Afro-Argentine
cultural context in which tango and candombe was born.

The tango music and dance sprang from the multiple
cultures settling in the crowded port cities.  The
musical and dance traditions of the newly arrived poor
immigrants from Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria and
other European countries mixed with the pre-existing
candombe and tangó traditions of the resident blacks
creating milonga then canyengue and finally the tango
we know today. 

 “Many people will be surprised to learn that tango
has African roots, as does the less familiar dance,
candombe which is one of tango´s predecessors.  Tango,
as we know it today, began developing in Montevideo,
Uruguay and Buenos Aires, Argentina simultaneously in
the mid to late 1800´s”, said Ernest Williams,
president of Tango Life Inc. and promoter of Candombe
in the US.  

Many traditions that came with and were developed by
the slaves that came from the Bantu area of Angola and
Congo, as well as Mosambique and West Africa were key
base elements that laid the foundation upon which
tango and candombe were built.  In the 19th century
the candombe gatherings, called tangós,  were banned
as indecent, stripping the blacks of an element of
cultural identity.  After slavery was abolished in
1845, the Afro Uruguayans took to the streets,
celebrating with the drums and rhythm of candombe. 
Their rich musical heritage has become part of their
national culture and continues to be celebrated in the
streets and at annual carnival celebrations.

A group of Chicago tango organizers are working
together to celebrate Black History Month by creating
awareness of and interest in the African roots of
tango and the often overlooked rhythmic traditions of
candombe.  Organizers include Tango Life Inc.,
American Tango Institute, Windy City Tango, Tango
Chicago and Chicago Milonguero, Ltd, Tanguera Morena,
Tanguera Negra, Tango Elixir, Tango Reaction, Tango
Una Emocion and Café Duvall.  These events will
kick-off a learning and dancing experience that will
continue beyond the short month of February.  

In the future look to Chicago to find the experience,
recognition and celebration of the past, present and
future African iinfluence on tango.  

--- m i l e s <tangobliss at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> After watching this clip
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRw62Ouq-0A (and
> related clips)
> And this clip.
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1CMOvOTCZ8 (and
> related clips)
> In my neophyte tango mind, there can be no doubt
> that the two dances  
> are connected by a very clear thread.
> Tango's roots are buried forever in the stream of
> time, trade routes,  
> and royal decrees.
> What we have today is what we have.  And we're
> working with that.
> However, to me, the roots of both Canyengue and
> Kizomba in Tango are  
> clear as day.  And that's what I'm goin with.
> Miles.
> _______________________________________________
> Tango-L mailing list
> Tango-L at mit.edu
> http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/tango-l

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