Tango was born at the end of 19th century in Buenos Aires. At that time the country attracted thousands of mostly male immigrants due to immigration policy and unsuccessfull "silver rush" (the word Argentina is derived from silver). Close embrace was considered very indecent in those days, but as there was a fundamental lack of women the natural needs caused a change in society's attitude to it. Only a small part of population could afford a woman, but the dance was availavle for everyone. And this is where it started. With time this newly emerging dance moved from bars and gambling rooms to a more acclaimed environment - to communal dormitories called el patio de los conventillos, where most of the poor immigrants and their families lived. These places gave birth to a new music style where everyone simply played the instrument they brought with themselves from home. German bandoneon, Spanish guitar, Italian violin... Mixing various European folk styles they created a synoptic style called tango. At the same time, tango lost the sexual subtext and gained real popularity. Eventually it attracted also the middle and upper class population.
The next phase of tango development is connected with the exporting of tango to Europe. Argentina went through an economic boom, rich people often travelled to Europe and their sons stayed there to study universities. This is how tango got to Paris in the early 30s. Immediately it became very popular, got new moves and decorations in the environmment of cabaret and bomond. The emphasis shifted from the close embrace to dramaticism and pose. This is how European tango slowly developed into a new dance which has very little to do now with its Argentinian predecessor.
In the meantime Buenos Aires tango also enjoyed its golden times. Tango became a national dance and music style. The first professional tango orchestras were established. Gramophone records became affordable which also helped spreading the music. Sentimental songs of Carlos Gardel made him the king of tango. Visiting milongas became the normal way of spending lesure time. So called código, the set of behavioural rules at the tango dance floor, was created as the dance was developing rapidly.
In 1955 Argentina experienced a military coup and the military junta declared tango too bourgeois and made it illegal. Police closed all the milonga dance halls, beating and arresting anyone who attempted to dance. During the next 30 years the argentine tango basically vanished and was close to forgotten. Only a few living people dancing the original argentine tango survived in Uruguay, USA and Europe.
The breakthrough came in 1983 when the military junta was defeated and tango returned. New tango schools started emerging, seminars were organised and people started remembering old melodies and ways of dancing. New times brought new music ideas. Astor Piazzolla created tango nuevo which fundamentally differed from the tango of the 40s. Electronic instruments and new dancing moves also changed the dancing. The only unchanged thing was the close communication in the couple which allows expressing the music with a common move, improvisation and creativity.