I some times muse over the multiple levels of nostalgia in tango. Today we are (at least to some degree) nostalgic about the golden age of tango, peaking in the 1940s. Tango, of course, was already nostalgic about the turn of the century during the golden age.

Now, I always thought of this as layered or maybe even recursive nostalgia, beging nostalgic about the nostalgia of the 1940s. Add the nostalgia being a long way from Buenos Aires and longing back to being nostalgic about how they were nostalgic about the fin de ciecle in the golden age, and you get the picture… Even the nostalgia was better in the old days. It’s all very meta.

The New Yorker provides a different perspective in an article about 40 years nostalgia cycles (also don’t miss the cartoons), and why they occur (people with power are often in their forties). Like many others I tend to link the revival of interest in tango in the 1980s with the fall of the dictatorship in Argentina, but it fits right into the theory because it happened about 40 years after the peak of the golden age.

Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.

Of course it’s not backed by solid evidence, but let’s say that the 40 years cycle applies. Should we expect a wave of nostalgia about the 80s revival of tango argentino in ten years time?

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