… which rather confused things. I'd never sorted out the difference: now I need to.
Candombe is the only music with drums we're likely to hear in a milonga. It's still a big part of the popular music tradition in Uruguay, but has more or less disappeared from public view in Argentina, along with most of the black population. But it used to be there: the black milonguero Facundo Posadas told RFT that when he was a child in 1945 the candombe drums used to play at the Shimmy Club in Buenos Aires for black audiences, who would go into trance, and that he was warned not to bother them. RFT says: '...key candombe steps were inserted into the habanera and the result of this was the milonga'. Facundo says: 'The candombe of today is not the candombe danced a long time ago. But the little that remained we put into the milonga.'
According to RFT's sources, canyengue was the pre-1900 precursor of tango, and it started to evolve rapidly after 1900. Rodolfo Cieri and his childhood friend, 'El Gallego' Manolo learned the canyengue of 1900, along with tango, when they were growing up in the 1940s. 'El Gallego' Manolo and his partner Martha Anton still teach in Buenos Aires.
RFT claims an African origin for both canyengue and candombe but says that along the way they met the polka, newly arrived from Europe...
(RFT = Robert Farris Thompson: Tango: The Art History of Love, an exploration of the black origins of tango music and dance.)