venerdì 28 agosto 2015

A Tango in the brothel by Rubén Andrés Costanzo second part


The end of the ‘800 Buenos Aires and Montevideo were the center of a small universe, its gravity attracts millions of desperate people, mostly from Europe. Because of a bad reception, a lot of them came back in a few months to the land of origin, others remained piled up in the suburbs. The majority of these immigrants were men. Scalabrini Ortiz said: The man of Buenos Aires is "a lonely man who waits ”8, and a man in these conditions needs female company. Prostitution in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries 9, was certainly a profitable business because the immigrants’ leisure passed by the brothel.The birth of a myth. We start to write the history of tango beginning from the 20s, whose narratives of his early age, collected from various writers, give us a picture of a dirty world, stories that are not reflected in official documents (police and municipal archives, licensing brothels). Sure, it would be naive to believe you shall find documents on this, but this lack of official sources remains truthful to the testimonies of many men who saw musicians enliven the evenings with Tango in brothels.

Moreover, the majority of the narrators came from the upper class and was used to belong to humble neighborhoods just for fun, without knowing the daily and honesty life of those places. There is no doubt that between the nineteenth and twentieth century, the tango was in the brothels and around them. Some places were very ambiguous as the Academias in Montevideo, or Piringundines in Buenos Aires. Vicente Rossi in his famous book Cosas de negros10 argues that tango was born in an Academia known as San Felice in the suburbs of Montevideo. Beyond this categorical assertion, let's see what activities took place there. Today, the success of a disco is partly due to the presence of women, which is why we offer free entrance or discounts to the ladies, in Buenos Aires and Montevideo in the early twentieth century, there were few women who provide free entrance to dance nights, so the Academias’ managers recriuted women dancers and charged a modest sum for each song danced to the men, so that for "men only" lower-class rioplatense fun was guaranteed. All scholars agree that people went in these placet only for dancing and not for having sex, but what the dancers did after the dance’s session was never recorded. I do not know how true it is, but the books tell us that women were chosen based on skill in dance and not for beauty, we know that the dancers wore short skirts to facilitate movements during the dance, this permitted to discover the ankles (eroticism of the past), we must add that if a woman resorted to this kind of work was by necessity and not for the pleasure of artistic dance.

Nonostante non siano stati citati in tanghi famosi, erano molti i bordelli che offrivano serate di ballo con musicisti di alto calibro.

During this period the men of the upper class of Buenos Aires was not without fun, and two entertainment venues have been made famous by the words of a tango, “Vos fuiste el rey del bailongo en lo de Laura y la Vasca…”11 different customers tell us that these two ladies ran brothels, dancing evenings for men of high social class as a prelude to sexual encounters. Musicians of the level of Rosendo Mendizabal, (author of the tango El Entrerriano) have played in these places.Although they have not been mentioned in famous tangos, there were many brothels which offered dancing with high caliber musicians.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, in the Boca district, became famous intersection (esquina) between Suarez and Necochea streets thanks to the many local that performed a good standard tango, despite being only local music was not hard to find in the streets around many brothels, we better not forget that this is the neighborhood of the port of Buenos Aires12. Among the places which we define as "ambiguous" for the mix of music, sex and crime, we can also mention: Raduni della Recoleta13 on the north, the premises of the park in Palermo, the curtains in Retiro; in the west Los Corrales (where the cowboys gathered the animals for slaughter). Many see the dirty origins of the tango in a few songs with titles in both directions. Remember that the primary tango was a dance and music were created based on this need, despite this some of these songs were funny or risque tunes, while other titles were ambiguously, for example: Dame la lata (Give me token - in reference to the token that the client gave to a prostitute as proof of payment) by Juan Pérez, La Clavada (the key) by Zambonini, La Cara de la Luna (written on the score so you sense La Concha de la Lora - The p ... of the prostitute) by Manuel Campoamor, the list could go on but as examples I think are sufficient. These arguments certainly show us the passage of the tango in the environment of commercial sex, but not that this is the place of his birth.

First part
to be continued

8 Raul Scalabrini Ortiz. L’uomo che è solo e attende, Bompiani. Milano. 1934
9 Albert Londres, El Camino de Buenso Aires (La trata de blancas) Editorial Excelcior. Bs.As. s/data ( pubblicato nei attorno il 1928)
Yvette Trochon, Las rutas de Eros La trata de blancas en el Atlàntico sur. Argentina, Brsil Uruguay (1880-1932). Editorial Taurus. Montevideo 2006
10 Vicente Rossi, Cosas de Negros. Libreria Hachette. Buenos Aires 1958 (la prima edizione e del 1926)
11 Trad.: “Tu sei stato il re del ballo da Laura e la Basca”, Parole tratte del tango: No aflojès (Non mollare), scritto da Mario Battistela con la musica di Pedro Maffia e Sebastian Piana. Suonato per prima volta dall’orchestra di Pedro Maffia nel 1934, ma reso memorabile dalla voce del canatante Angel Vargas con l’orchestra di Angel D’Agostino in una regsitrazione del 1940.
12 Luis Adolfo Sierra. Historia de la orquesta tìpica. Buenos Aires. A. Peña Lillo Editor srl. 1976. Vedere pagina 34
13 Josè Antonio Wilde, Buenos Aires desde setenta años atràs (1810-1880). Eudeba. Bs. As. 1960. Vedere pagina 251
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