Joan Acocella, 14 December 1995
‘In France, we do it lying down,’ a French minister is reported to have said on first seeing the tango. He was not far wrong. The tango crystallised at the end of the 19th century in the brothels of Buenos Aires. It was a dance of prostitutes and pimps, and in its ineluctable rhythms, its belly-to-belly stance, its interlacing of legs, it reflected their professional concerns. Yet by the 1910s, it was the newest Parisian dance craze. Argentine whores were no doubt still doing it, but so was the Duchesse de Clermont-Tonnerre.