Painting of a crowd participating in a candombe
Candombe is an Uruguayan music and dance that comes from African
This Uruguayan music style is based on three different drums: chico, repique and piano drums. This music style is usually played in February during carnival in Montevideo, Uruguay at dance parades called "Llamadas" and "Desfile Inaugural del Carnaval".
According to George Reid Andrews, the historian of Montevideo Black communities, after the middle of the 19th century younger blacks in particular abandoned the candombe in favor of dances from Europe such as the
African-Uruguayans organized candombe dances every Sunday and on special holidays such as New Year's Eve, Christmas, Saint Baltasar, Rosary Virgin and Saint Benito. They would set a fire to heat the drums and play candombe music, specially during the night in certain neighbors such as Barrio Sur and Palermo in Montevideo. The typical characters on the parade represent the old white masters during slavery in old Montevideo city. It was a mockery to their lifestyle with a rebel spirit for freedom and a way to remember the African origins.
A new dance, which embodied the movement and style of the candombe, and called a tango with couples dancing apart, rather than in an embrace, was created by the
In the third decade of the 19th century the word candombe began to appear in Montevideo, referring to self-help dancing societies founded by persons of African descent. The term means "pertaining to blacks" in
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The African influence was not foreign to Argentina, where the candombe also has been developed with specific characteristics. A population of black African slaves had been present in Buenos Aires since around 1580. However their place in Argentine culture nearly died out due to events such as the
The seeds of candombe originated in present-day Angola, where it was taken to South America during the 17th and 18th centuries by people who had been sold as slaves in the kingdoms of Kongo, Anziqua, Nyong, Quang and others, mainly by Portuguese slave traders. The same cultural carriers of candombe colonized Brazil (especially in the area of Salvador de Bahia), Cuba, and the Río de la Plata with its capital Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The different histories and experiences in these regions branched out from the common origin, giving rise to different rhythms.
In Buenos Aires, during the two governments of Juan Manuel de Rosas, it was common that “afroporteños” (black people of Buenos Aires) practiced the candombe in public, even encouraged and visited by Rosas and his daughter, Manuela. Rosas defeated in the battle of Caseros in 1852, Buenos Aires began a profound and rapid cultural change which emphasized European culture. In this context, the afroporteños (black people of Buenos Aires) replicated their ancestral cultural patterns increasingly into their private life. For this reason since 1862, the press, intellectuals and politicians began to assert the misconception of Afro-Argentine disappearance that has remained virtually until now in the imagination of ordinary people from Argentina.
Many researchers agree that the Candombe, through the development of the Milonga is an essential component in the genesis of Argentine tango. This musical rhythm influenced, specially, the "Sureña Milonga". In fact,
Initially, the practice of Candombe was practiced exclusively by blacks, who had designed special places called “Tangó’s”. This word originated sometime in the 19th century the word "Tango", but not yet its present meaning.