Reverb Titles



The explosion of participation in dance classes in recent years has led to the re-emergence of popular partner dancing, with Latin American styles at the forefront. Chief among these styles is the most sensual and dramatic of dances, the tango.

Born in the unlit streets of Buenos Aires, tango was danced to the music of immigrants from Europe who crossed the ocean to Argentina, lured by the promise of a better life. The majority of these newcomers were young men, who found small comfort in the brothels and cabarets of the marginal districts where tango found its voice. They spoke the strange language of the streets, Lunfardo, and told their stories of prostitutes, petty thieves and disappointed lovers through the music and dance of the tango. Initially shunned as the music of the lower and criminal classes, after Paris went crazy for the tango before First World War it became acceptable for middle-class Argentines to dance this seductive dance. Spreading throughout the world during the twentieth century to the US, Japan, Finland and beyond, today few cities in the world are without tango classes.

Although the tango is danced and adored worldwide, in the English-speaking world there is very little understanding of tango’s evolution, or the stories told through its lyrics. Tango: Sex and Rhythm of the City sets the history and music, the key figures and, most importantly, the dance in its place and time, explores how it developed, and describes the continuing enthusiasm with which each generation has rediscovered it. Telling the sultry, enthralling story of this stylish and dramatic dance, Tango is essential reading for both casual fans and ballroom aficionados alike.

Tango: Sex and the Rhythm of the City
by Mike Gonzalez and Marianella Yanes




“An essential read for tango lovers . . .  excellent at big themes and small details, the personal and the political.” – Dance Today

“Personal accounts, tango lyrics and delightful trivia engagingly support the more historical sections of the writing. At times the language used by the authors seems veiled in mystery and innuendo, comparing tango’s movements to a knife fight and metaphorizing it as a theatre of life without its colourful cast of characters: the pimp, the prostitute, the confidence trickster. But soon enough González and Yanes provide the historical markers and facts to back it all up. The book delivers a beautifully depicted and well-informed history, chronicling the diverse characters and ingredients that have formed tango then and now. Suitable for the uninitiated and the tango aficionado alike.” – Dance International

“This interesting, challenging, well-written, and well-documented study examines the origins and development of the tango from diverse approaches . . . The tango becomes a symbolic expression of the “new Argentina,” which became the melting pot of different peoples . . . Gonzalez and Yanes offer significant information about the seductive tango crossing social class line from dark, dockside streets to dance halls . . . an excellent resource for those interested in the historical, anthropological, sociological and psychological aspects of the tango. Highly recommended.” – Choice

“The authors follow the dance through its increased sophistication with the incorporation of the accordion, its subsequent fashionability in Paris, London and New York and its connection with the political turbulence of 20th-century Argentina. Highly informative, and peppered with lyrics to illustrate their points.” – The Herald (Glasgow)

“I first picked up my copy of Tango hoping that I would not find yet another dry, seemingly uninspired academic history of one of my favorite art forms. What I found was a book that inspired me to hit the dance floor as much as it did to hit the library in order to delve deeper into tango’s complex history. This is a book that will provide the budding fan of tango with all of the necessary background information and inspiration to embark on a love affair with the magnificent dance.” –

“a book that re-establishes the root of tango in the lives of the oppressed fighting back and creating this fascinating dance.” – Socialist Review



Mike Gonzalez is Emeritus Professor of Latin American Studies at Glasgow University and has written and lectured widely on Latin American culture and politics.

Marianella Yanes is a Venezuelan writer, journalist and playwright. She wrote soap operas for a number of Latin American television channels and worked in theatre for many years.


Purchase via publisher:
Reaktion Books  (UK)
University of Chicago Press (North America)
University of New South Wales Press (Australia / New Zealand)

Purchase via online stores:
Barnes and Noble (US)
Powells (US)
Blackwells (UK) – check stock for store reservations
Waterstones (UK)


By John Scanlan

John Scanlan is the Series Editor of Reverb with Reaktion Books.