1914 Guide: How to Dance Tango
When one examines the discussions of tango historians, you find furious and passionate discourse on what constitutes authentic
tango: in other words, that danced at the turn of the last century. Many of the so called facts
, when assessed a little deeper, are exposed only as fading memories of old milengueros, impressions, myths which have become exaggerated over the years - and worst of all, the too common failing of assuming something is true because someone else wrote it on the web.
An example of this is the false myth that tango arose out of the bordellos. In this author's research on the matter (see Article), it is unfortunate that over 99% of all tango websites purporting to impart their view on the history of tango
propagate this myth as fact.
With regards to what was truly authentic
tango 100 years ago, how do we truly know? There were no movies. Pictures tell us little, if anything, about the dance itself. But Ahh, dear tango friends, all is not lost! Very Tango
has the incredible good fortune and prestige to come across a treasure trove of original, authentic books from the turn of last century that provide intricate detail into tango history. Below are reproduced pages from the first of these - an ancient 1914 copy of the book How to Dance The Tango
It is written by Miss Eileen Swapstone
a 'Certified Teacher of Dancing' from the famous Wordsworth's School of Dancing
in London, though interstingly it is explicitly focused on the 'Dancing Masters of the North American Continent'.
Below are a few of the quotes from the book which are particularly amusing:
The tango, shorn of crudities which caused it to be criticized, has been accepted, in its later form, as a graceful and delightful dance, lending charming variety to dance programmes.
It is very bad form to 'clutch' one's partner in Tango. In addition to being tabooed in good society, this practice makes it impossible to dance with ease and grace.
All you need to remember now is that the gentleman holds the lady naturally, loosely rather than tightly, in the waltz position.