There seems to be something missing in the tango world, something I can't find anywhere, and it's foxtrot. We have it from older dancers, especially from Osvaldo and Coca (in the MP interview I think - I don't have time to check it out) that foxtrot was one of the dances that defined Argentine social dancing in the 20s and 30s and 40s. I think Osvaldo said that any 'milonguero' who claims to have danced tango in the Golden Age and can't foxtrot just wasn't really there. & yet... where's the video of Osvaldo and Coca dancing foxtrot? I've never seen a couple dancing anything that seemed to me remotely like foxtrot during a jazz or rock tanda in Buenos Aires, and I've never come across it in films of milongas either. If there is a video of Buenos Aires foxtrot please let me know! I've looked but can't find it.
It was big! It's not just Osvaldo talking. Francisco Canaro recorded a lot of foxtrots like this, and also a charming foxtrot Chá para dos, better known in English as Tea for Two: sadly, the audio quality isn't great. It's curious that Canaro's syncopation in foxtrot is really lively, but he doesn't use it much in the tangos he recorded around that time, as if he felt it out of place. His jazz band recordings started around 1923, and there are plenty of them over the following years, although tango remained his main output.
I came across this video of Oscar Casas and Ana Miguel. The title calls it 'La colegiala (fox trot)' . La colegiala seems to be a popular song from a Columbian band, recorded in 1983, but I'm not sure it's really foxtrot music*. As to the dance, Oscar would be in a position to have learned foxtrot from the older dancers, but I think his dance resembles tango as much as anything. But perhaps the two dances are similar?
Foxtrot was one of the dances of the American jazz scene in the early 1920s, but it was taken over and popularised as a ballroom dance at some stage, with the characteristic open embrace. There are a few old Pathe clips of foxtrot on YouTube which suggest the original dance. To me, this, danced in close embrace, remains the best: others are more flamboyant and showy. It also seems to show patterns that aren't that far from stuff that's danced in tango and I get the feel of a relaxed musicality, although the bouncy tip-toe style is very far from salon tango. These Pathe videos are early all right, but that means from the silent era, so the music was added later. & there's a foxtrot lesson here, taught by 'Santos Casani, the well-known Teacher of Dancing', using an novel 'special glass floor', from 1931. Maybe something of the old version survived: the great photographer Don McCullin talks in a documentary about dancing foxtrot, 'the naughty kind, not the ballroom version' when he was growing up in the UK in the late 1940s.
But the Buenos Aires version? I'd be very interested to see it.
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