Tango dancing in Buenos Aires
Women, style and intimacy, 1920–40
in Worlds of social dancing
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This chapter explores dance hall culture in Buenos Aires during the 1920s and 1930s, paying special attention to the cultural depictions and lived experiences of young women who patronised dance halls. In particular, it explores the rise of these places and their impact on young women’s leisure time. In order to do this, the first section investigates the development of milongas, academias and cabarets, and analyses the diverse patrons that attended them, the social values these places endorsed and the dances that were in vogue in Buenos Aires during this period. The second section explores female representations and young women’s involvement in dance hall culture. It examines two female types that condensed the moral panic generated by the dance hall, and explores ‘actual’ young women’s visual styles and their encounters with men at the various dance venues. The chapter analyses the yellow press, general interest magazines and women’s magazines in order to examine representations of gender and dance hall culture, and explores how young women experienced them through opinion pieces, advice columns and letters to the editor sections. The historiography on Argentine women in the 1920s and 1930s has explored women’s significant involvement in the public sphere. It has focused, particularly, on the feminist movement and on female political engagement, education and labour market participation from a social history perspective. This article engages with this scholarship and argues that popular culture, and principally beauty, fashion, intimacy and courtship, were relevant practices in the lives of young women as well as crucial discourses in the shaping of their identities.

Worlds of social dancing

Dance floor encounters and the global rise of couple dancing, c. 1910–40

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