Tango is danced to orchestras from Buenos Aires of the 1930s, 40s and 50s. This was the "Golden Era" of tango. Modern tango music like Astor Piazzola is not used for tango dancing (except perhaps for performances). The tango CDs listed below are all popular at typical tango dances (milongas). We can also dance tango to other kinds of 4/4 music with a walking tempo and rhythmic variety. Slow swing, blues, "world" music, and even some pop or hip-hop can work for doing tango steps, but to really DANCE tango you want the music to have a "tango" rhythmic pulse and drive, just as swing dancers prefer music that "swings".
Short list of "Tom's essential Tango CDs"
Beginners should start with the orchestras of Juan D'Arienzo and Carlos Di Sarli from the 1930s & 40s because the beat is solid and strong. D'Arienzo is more rhythmic, while Di Sarli is famous for emphasizing the steady, walking beat. The lyrical orchestras of the 1940s have wonderful, sweeping melodies, and beautiful singers. The intensely dramatic and passionate music of Osvaldo Pugliese is the peak experience for many tango dancers. In Buenos Aires, when they put on a Pugliese set, they turn the lights down low while everybody looks around for their favorite partner.
- D'Arienzo, "De Pura Cepa 1935 - 1936"
- Edgardo Donato, "Colleccion 78 RPM 1933 - 1941"
- Francisco Canaro "Alma Tanguera"
- Rodolfo Biagi "Racing Club"
- Francisco Canaro "Poema".
Dramatic and Steady (1940s - 50s)
- Carlos Di Sarli "RCA Victor 100 Anos"
Melodic and Lyrical (1940s)
- Miguel Calo "Al compas Del Corazon"
- Ricardo Tanturi/Campos "Ricardo Tanturi Canta Enrique Campos"
Syncopated and Complex(1940s)
- Anibal Troilo "Troilo en RCA Victor"
- Anibal Troilo "Instrumental 1941 - 1944"
Ethereal and Spacious (1940s)
- Angel D'Agostino/Vargas "RCA Victor 100 Anos"
Dramatic and Passionate (1950s - 1970s)
- Osvaldo Pugliese "Ausencia"
- Osvaldo Pugliese "A Los Amigos"
For more extensive tango CD listings, and discussions of different orchestras, see Stephen Brown's Guide to tango music for social dancing.
In Memorium (Stephen Brown died of COVID in July of 2020.)