Woman Dance Teacher’s Business Card, Barcelona, 1920s
I am indebted to Thomas Keenes for drawing my attention to this striking image. Thomas with Simon Haddock – both London-based – run a well-respected tango discussion forum on Facebook, “The Tango Social Revolutiion“.
It is a business card for a woman teacher of “Bailes Modernos de Salón” which includes tango.
She offers to teach women in their own homes. The image to the left shows two figures, both women, dancing together in a dance embrace, but at a decorous distance. Both are fashionably dressed and – though indoors – are wearing hats. . The figure on the left, leading, is presumably supposed to be the teacher, Emilia Tutusaus Parals.
What could be more respectable? Inviting a man into one’s home to be taught dancing might have aroused gossip, given the physical nature of the activity (and, in the case of the tango, the “erotic” reputation of the dance), but becoming an accomplished follower after instruction by another, respectable woman probably carried no such risk.
One other image in the Archive reinforces the idea that women dance teachers might sometimes be favoured by women themselves:
A woman teaching women, 1912: En Paris, gente de rang ova a la “academia de tango”
Th image is on this trade card resembles other images of women dancing together such as this one from tango sheet music in Paris in 1913-14:
Fashionable women on Villoldo sheet music, London and Paris, 1913-14
Or this 1913 fashion show – also in Paris – for the couturier Lucile:
The images are contrived to sell fashionability – fashionable dance skills, fashionable clothes – to other women. They are not constructed (as some other images of women dancing plainly were) to provide titillation for the male gaze.
Thomas kindly asked Ella Sharp, the knowledgable London-based tango clothing designer, what date she thought the card might be based on their clothing. Ella suggested any date between 1921 and 1928.
I believe the image is out of copyright.
Image URL: https://www.iberlibro.com/paper-collectibles/EMILIA-TUTUSAUS-PARALS-PROFESORA-BAILES-MODERNOS/30230690728/bd?fbclid=IwAR1vGKetrrMziN_yV-oynQqt39IXCIt-XHdgsviMEhm6U87ViwusF7oN5zI