Tango made its way to Europe and gained popularity particularly in Paris. As the European dancers enjoyed the music and passion of the dance, they began to inject their own culture, style and technique. In an effort to teach a standardized version of the tango, the English eventually codified their own version of tango for instruction in dance schools and for performance in competitions in 1922. The resulting style was referred to as English style, but eventually took on the name International style, as this became the competitive ballroom version practiced around the world.
Eventually, championships in the international style tango were organized all over Europe with numerous participating countries. Adjudicators were able to judge against a standardized syllabus and book of techniques, thereby creating a more objective means of picking the champions, even though artistic interpretation remains an important element of competition. Initially, the English dominated the International style tango, but eventually, technicians from other backgrounds, most notably the Italians, have chipped away at the English standard and created a dynamic style that continues to raise the competitive bar.
American Style Tango
American style tango’s evolutionary path is derived from Argentina to U.S., when it was popularized by silent film star Rudolph Valentino in 1921, who demonstrated a highly stylized form of Argentine tango in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. As a result, the Hollywood style steps mixed in with other social dance steps of the times began this branch away from the Argentine style. Meanwhile, the tango was also making its own inroads into Europe. Following the English standardization of their version of Tango, Arthur Murray, a ballroom dance instructor in the U.S., tried his own hand at standardizing the ballroom dances for instruction in his chain of social dance schools. Consequently, his tango syllabus incorporated steps with Argentine, Hollywood and socially popular influences and techniques. This looser social style was referred to as American style by the English.