Gateway Tango is a interweb mash-up lovingly composed of unquantifiable parts “gateway” and “tango.” The former more specifically refers to that red, white and blue Gateway to the West, St. Louis, while the latter refers to, well, tango.
St. Louis, the Gateway City
St. Louis is currently listed as the 61st-most populous city in the United States with a population of approximately 311,000. According to local lore, St. Louis was founded on February 14, 1764; we do know that the township named for France’s King Louis was established as a trading post in the early part of that year by trader Pierre Laclède and his stepson Auguste Chouteau.
Perhaps the real heyday of St. Louis was in the late 19th- to early 20th-century, peaking in 1904. At the time, St. Louis was the 4th-largest U.S. city, trailing only New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. In ’04, St. Louis became the first American burg to host the Olympic Games, and the city also held perhaps the second most-famous World’s Fair of all-time. (And incidentally this is where the ice cream cone was introduced. Nice.)
Today, St. Louis is home to the world’s biggest beer brewer Anheuser-Busch in addition to serving as the headquarters for the even huger and more insidious Boeing Defense. The city’s major sports franchises are down to two, but these are two serious classics: The 11-time champion baseball Cardinals and the Blues, who are … decidedly less successful.
The tango: Dance from Argentina and Uruguay
Tango dancing was not on display at the famous World’s Fair of 1904, but the dance would reach an early peak in popularity in St. Louis less than 10 years after the great exposition.
Tango’s date of origin has been lost to history, but the dance is today considered to have been the evolution of dancing enjoyed at gathering of slave laborers in the Plata River Basin straddling modern-day Argentina and Uruguay dating from the 18th century. What is now recognized as the classic tango style appeared in the 1880s, rapidly becoming popular throughout the Buenos Aires/Montevideo area as it spread from the poorer quarters of the cities.
By the turn of the century, enthusiasts were spreading the dance and its concomitant music throughout the world. Western European countries caught tango fever in the 1900s, and the dance made it to Scandinavia and the U.S. in 1913. Within two years, shows and lessons were given in every major American city (including St. Louis), and new forms such as the “North American Tango” were created thousands of miles from the dance’s origin. The tango dance is so popular, that we even came across a slot game based on it. We're not sure if we recommend tango dancers to play slot games, but if you love tango as much as we do, then why not try your luck and dance away at a tango-themed casino slot game. What else, there is a company, called Tango, that produces mobile games.
St. Louis and Tango today
As a group, St. Louisians never really let go of their interest in one of South America’s most famous exports (not related to football, that is). The appropriately titled website Tango St. Louis shows that classes, events and other related tango tidbits are consistently running in the Gateway City; at least once a week every week can tango junkies get their fix In this city.
And this is a dynamic that will continue to flourish for some time to come. Meet me in St. Louis.