The evolution of tango has not followed a single, easy to track, path. It is rather quite a mess, so in an attempt to figure out how it all goes together, I tried putting my current understaning together in a chart (pdf) showing the main developments of the tango dance in all its incarnations.
Just to reiterate: in my opinion there are two distinctions that really matter in tango: Social vs. performance, which I covered before, and good vs. bad. Which is nothing new, of course:
No hay tango viejo ni tango nuevo. El tango es uno solo. Tal vez la única diferencia está entre los que lo hacen bien y los que lo hacen mal There is no old tango nor is there new tango. Tango is one. Perhaps the only difference is between those who do it well and those that do it badly. > > _Aníbal Troilo_ > >
Still, the intricacies of styles and evolution in tango is a fascinating topic, and this is my humble and far from perfect attempt to visualize tango’s development. Constructive criticism, additions and corrections of errors are most welcome. Suggestions for improvements in formatting likewise. Bear in mind that many of the terms are not well defined, and different people may refer to the same things under different names or to different things under the same name…
Some notes about this chart: I started out from Stephen Brown’s Evolution of Argentine Tango Styles, but I have made some additions and modifications. The term “tango salón” is ambiguous at best when describing tango styles. In my opinion, what is often referred to as milonguero style is also tango salón, but there seems to be no widely acknowledged term for social tango not including milonguero style or nuevo.
In lack of a better term, I used “Modern Salón” to denote the current mix of several styles of social tango. I grouped several geographical styles under the somewhat arbitrary Northern (roughly from Palermo, Crespo to Pueyrredón, Urquiza and Saavedra etc.), Centre and Southern (roughly La Boca, San Telmo etc). This is in accordance with Christine Denniston’s observations.