sabato 22 agosto 2015

A Tango in the brothel by Rubén Andrés Costanzo first part


“Que poco queda de una cosa cuando se explica”1

It is almost impossible to win a fight on equal terms against a myth because the myth is an idea and you can’t kill them, they live in the collective consciousness of the society and are passed down from generation to generation almost by osmosis and they hardly give us a glimpse of the truth that is hidden in the narrative, to obtain the truth we must get over the myth and see what lies beyond. But once explained the real part of the myth we run the risk of being left with nothing or little more of poetic in our hands.
Many stories about tango, from the early '900, are partly nostalgic inventions or stories of people of high social class that ignored or deliberately concealed part of the history of tango. A reverse process that also distorts the story happens whne we want to apply our values to events that occurred a century ago. For example, one hundred years ago it was agreed that two men were fighting a duel to settle a matter of honor, but it was unthinkable that a woman had the right to vote or take the knee-length skirt.

The majority of chronicles written in the late '800 and early '900, or gathered from interviews conducted in the 30s, question about the morality of the tango, describing it as a dance born in the brothels and bordellos of Rio de la Plata; others are talking about the tango as a dance born in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, the fusion of different rhythms, music and choreography. In Italy we find on the first position the book Il Tango2 by Horacio Salas, in the foreword the writer Ernesto Sabato wrote the categorical sentence "... the tango was born in brothels ..." (p. 9) later Salas said: "But the usual place the tango, from its genesis related to dance and its musical development, was the brothel. In the courtyards of the brothels, in the spacious waiting rooms and in addition to the main house, the prostitutes were in the habit of dancing with the customers "(p.85).

Opposed to the idea of the tango born in a brothel we found Mrs. Meri Lao, in her book Todo Tango3 - I recommend a careful reading of the chapter: "With the benefit of Inventango", where there is an analysis of numerous errors on the history of tango in the Italian publications - about the brothel the influential writer tells us: "No tango of those who, saying it on a Borgian way," along our life ", was created in the sphere of sex mercenary. The portraits of the bully-minded pimp dated mainly at the twenties and thirties. However, were overcome. Valid only for tourists "(p.23). Brothel no, brothel Yes. I do not think it is worth finding a middle way but a way to find an exit from this dilemma, and historical documents will help us.

It becomes spontaneously enter the brothel as the birthplace of a very sensual dance with a high level of eroticism. But what was the tango at the end of the nineteenth century? To be honest we did not have a clear idea of what it was, but there was not even the educational or philosophical need to explain it. In 1821 we find one of the first documents where the tango is represented not like a dance but as a place where people of African descent in Buenos Aires made dancing evenings for benefit 4 and only after this date the name is associated to a ball played in those places - "Tango de los morenos "," Tango de los negros "- even if they were still loose balls and not a couple. About 1870 Zarzuela’s companies who came from Spain led to the Rio de la Plata the genre known as Tango Andaluz which together with the Habanera landed in Buenos Aires with the sailors became two Central American fashionable dances, worn in the suburbs through the organ grinder .

To re-mix again the cards is the use of the word milonga. Jose Hernandez is the first in the epic poem El Gaucho Martín Fierro, to use the term "milonga" as a place for dancing5. It’s Ventura Lynch in 1883, that identify a dance of the suburbs as milonga, he also claims that the choreography of the milonga is an imitation of the grotesque candombe (or blacks tango) by the underworld of the suborb6. Until 1900 the terms milonga and tango identify the same dance. The first document that describes and names the tango as we know it dates back to 1897, the comedy Justicia Criolla by Ezequiel Soria7, describes the choreography of a tango danced in the courtyard of a house.From all this information we can say that the rioplatense tango is a hybrid product, born form the urban working class suburbs. But then, when did the brothels enter in the history of tango?

to be continued

1 Trad.: Che poco rimane di una cosa quando viene spiegata.(pag. 97) In: Wimpi (Arthur Gracia Nùñez), El Gusano loco. Editorial Freeland. Bs As 1978
2 Horacio Salas, Il tango. Ed. Garzanti. Milano. 1992. La prefazione dello Scrittore Ernesto Sabato, appartiene ad un libro dello stesso Sabato: Tango Discusion y clave. Ed. Losada. Bs. As. 1963
3 Meri Lao, Todo Tango Cronache di una lunga convivenza. Tascabili Bompianti. Milano 2004
4 Archivo General de la Naciòn, Legajo Sala X-32-10-1, citato da Enrique Horacio Pucccia, El Buenos Aires de Angel G. Villoldo (1860...1919) Edizione del autore. Bs. As. 1976 Alla pagina 76
5 La “milonga” viene citata indiversi brani del poema. Due citazioni significative sono: dal verso 1.139 fino al 1.142 (pag.150) e dal verso 1.921 fino al 1.932 (pag.177). Josè Hernàndez, El Gaucho Martìn Fierro. Ediciones Càtedra. Madrid 1991. Edizione a cura di Luis Sàinz de Medrano.
6 Ventura R. Lynch. Cancionero Bonaerense. (riestampa della prima edizione del1883) Buenos Aires. Imprenta de la Universidad. 1925
7 Irene Amuchastegui. El dìa en que el tango tuvo nombre. Suplemento Expectàculos, diario Clarìn. Buenos Arires 28 settembre 1997 pag. 8. Intervista a Josè Gobello vicepresidente dell’Academia Nacional del Tango dell’Argentina
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