Tango danced by Rudolph Valentino and partner from the motion picture Four Horsemen of the …—Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., © 1921; photograph, from the Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive

Spirited dance; also a South American ballroom dance. It evolved in the dance halls and, perhaps, the brothels of poorer districts of Buenos Aires, Arg., possibly influenced by the Cuban habanera. It was made popular in the U.S. by Vernon and Irene Castle, and by 1915 it was being danced throughout Europe. Early versions, danced to music in the prevailing duple metre (), were fast and exuberant; these were later modified to the smoother ballroom step, characterized by long pauses and stylized body positions and danced to music usually in time. Among those associated with tango are Juan D'Arienzo, Anibal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese, Carlos Di Sarli, Francisco Canaro, Astor Piazzolla, and Carlos Gardel.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on tango, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up tango? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.