Tango's passion reaches far and wide. As if you'd need proof, Finland hosts The Seinäjoki Tango Festival with over 100,000 attendees for the 5 day festival.
From their website, a little history on the Finnish Tango:
There are few phenomena that have travelled so far and yet managed to root themselves so deeply into the Finnish soil as the tango. Not only was the original tango welcomed and fostered in Finland, but over the years it has also developed a new identity and become part of our way of life.
The Finnish tango is one of the few genuinely original things in Finnish music and popular entertainment. We may forget this ourselves every once in a while, but visitors to our shores cannot help but notice it, and fall in love with it.
The first Finnish tangos, classics since their birth, date back to the 1930s. Both the form and the spirit of tango in the Finnish manner were crystallized during the Second World War. As people were brought apart, sometimes for good, feelings of longing and loneliness grew more intensified.
However, there is a lot of hope and buoyancy in the tango; in fact, it is made up of the same ingredients as life itself.
Great Finnish composers, led by the two masters Toivo Kärki and Unto Mononen, have created many tango experiences for us all to share. Similarly, many singers are chiefly remembered for their tango interpretations. First Olavi Virta, Henry Theel, and Veikko Tuomi in the 1940s and 50s, and later Eino Grön, Reijo Taipale, Taisto Tammi, Markus Allan, Esko Rahkonen and many others, including the younger crop fostered by the Tango Festival.
At the turn of the 1960s the word was that the tango is passé. This was followed by a period characterized by some as the "comeback" of the tango.
However, singers and musicians who had continued to perform tangos, and particularly the Finnish folk which had continued to dance and listen to them, knew well that the tango was never out of fashion. On the contrary, some of the fads supposedly ousting the tango actually vanished as suddenly as they had appeared.
Neither would the Seinäjoki Tango Festival have experienced such a huge success without the intimate relationship of the Finns with the tango.
-Written by Ilpo Hakasalo-
Image courtesy of Martti Hautamäki for Tangomarkkinat
Finalists of Tango Singing Contest 2000: Erkki Räsänen, Antti Raiski, Esa Nummela, Mira Kunnasluoto, Hanne Kannasharju and Jaana Pöllänen