I.b — Early edad de oro

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In general La edad de oro is often considered synonymous with La guardia nueva, starting either 1917 or 1925 according to many sources and ending either 1950 or 1955. As I have argued in the previous post, this may suit music historical aims, but fails to capture the essential shift that occurs in tango dancing in between 1936 and 1940, a shift that for DJs and dancers is crucial in terms of understanding tango. I therefore argue that it is more practical for us to use La guardia nueva solely for the period from 1926 until 1935, when the guardia vieja masters evolved their mature style,  slowly supplanted by yourger orchestra leaders.

1936–1940 — Tango dancing, the crucial split, and the Early edad de oro

It is a question whether the change in musical style that occurred in the « Late guardia nueva » precipitated the important changes in dancing style, or whether the change in dancing occurred in tandem with the musical experiments. Non-the-less we can see that there were important new aspects affecting the dance scene in the Rio de Plata area preceding the shift, aspects that may have brought the change on. There was awakened interest in free, more rapid dance styles in the early thirtees, obvious in the emergence of the more rapid polca-momentum of the milonga and the increased importance of the vals, which was to become a bridge between the milonga and the tango, offering rapid dancing on the beat and three times slower momentum on the meter. The co-existence of these styles alongside the tango could have made it easier to make the tango more dramatic and serious in the way it was practiced.

Many dance theorists agree that the defining moment in Argentine tango was the general change of direction and the innovation of the cruzada, or cross in the womans backward step. That innovation proved really important in defining the future of Argentine tango, opening up to many innovations inherent to its style, innovations that lead to a dance craze in the Rio del Plata that lasted for more than 15 years. There is no way of knowing exactly when this happened, but roughly it seems to have occurred at a similar time to the start or D’Arienzo’s band, in 1936/7.

Listening to the music, it is obvious that at that time, one that I would define as the beginning of the golden age of tango, it being the defining time of what we later have come to know as « Argentine » tango — this period, ranging from about 1936 until 1940, I propose to call Early edad de oro. It is an exilirating time in the history of Argentine tango, with a renewal in musical styles and arrangement led by an upsurge in popularity. It is a wave that took about 5 years to reach culmination — the beat got faster and the beat tighter over those five years, culminating in the fastest average beat of tango in general in 1940, before relaxing again in what can be called an established style.


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