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First History of Tango by Old Tanguero

On September 22, 1913, the first story of Tango appears in the newspaper Crítica. The road of love and rescue tango was opened by the mysterious Viejo Tanguero.

 historia del Tango

The revolution of the daily  Crítica  by  Natalio Botana  would cover several aspects that go beyond the information enterprise. National culture would never be the same since those flammable headlines and articles that were printed from the modern building of avenue de Mayo 1333 —inaugurated in 1927, today's police headquarters — Literature and arts lived together in a popular newspaper that “knew how to arouse anger, wonder or admiration of the whole society: the only attitude he did not tolerate was indifference,” in the words of Sylvia Saitta. He supported  President Yrigoyen 's coup and held a plural section to the working world; he gave columns and supplements to  Martín Fierro 's avant-garde youth and imposed an exacerbated sensationalism in the hurricane that was  Crítica , which sold a million copies with the spectacular coverage of the Nazi invasion of Poland, Tango was not indifferent in its ideology and language. Even more so. It was in his DNA in the police chronicles of Yacaré, the lunfardo poet  Felipe Fernández , or in the profoundly porteños articles of the poet  Raúl Gonzalez Tuñón, “in our cosmopolis there no spirit that represents us more faithfully than tango”, quotes, and writes with that pulse from the vibrant chronicle of the fall of the tram in La Boca, in 1930, to the days of mourning for the death of  Carlos Gardel . On the sidelines,  Morocchio de la Abasto  owes much of his career, and his subsequent eternal glory, to the journal of  Botana. 

The aforementioned  Yacaré  writes profusely about tango and lunfardo from 1915 in “Grammar del chamuyo rantifuso”, a genre that returned by boat and telegraph legitimated in Paris, and gloated in argentine aristocratic salons. It was necessary that the new middle classes, mostly immigrants and creoles from shops and public employees, entered the seductive and murky world of the suburbs, the conventillos, cabaret and brothels, in a key of myth. That same year  Botana  commissioned  José Antonio Saldías  , his police journalist disciple of  Nemesio Trejo  , to start with a fixed section called “The New Dictionary of Lunfardo. Voices and expression of the Buenos Aires suburb” in the company of  José Francisco Palermo . For the Uruguayan editor,  Saldías  was a young promise that stood out with a style that fictionalized quartering and shootings and, at the same time, a promise of the  Argentine theater  that would triumph that same season with “  Garufa Nights  ” under the tango wings. That is why it is plausible that the author of “The tango, its evolution, its history. Stories of past times. Who implanted it”, the enigmatic  Old Tanguero, is Saldías , as the scholar of the Porteña del Lunfardo Academy,  José Gobello , argues. In addition,  Saldías  published in  Crítica  looses and poems with the aroma of vaguanes, and quebradas, with the alias Rubén Fostras. Pathways that lead us to this journalist and playwright as possibly  the first documented historian of Argentine Tango. 

“No one would have thought of those embryonic epochs of cosmopolitanism, which through time and by action reflects the progressive movement, could resurface with violent impetus, that exotic dance that would one day come up with people of color, replacing the devilish candombe of the legendary africans”, started the  Old Tanguero/Saldías  , placing the  origins  of the Buenos Aires danced feeling on the drums of the southern neighborhoods, and continued in 1913 to liquidate futures pseudohistorians who denied their  Afro-Argentinian origins , “the black condemnation in which he lived for years for an undeniable social sentence... has been preceded by an act of gentle amnesty and kind exequatur vindicatory... now that his name was imposed on the royal halls of civilized nations, his fellow citizens give him a letter of honesty for his triumph and welcome him with the trumpets of fame,” the journalist says with an ironic deed. Throughout the document recovered by Gobello, he describes the persecution, and closures, of the piringundines and academies, of the  “Mondongo” neighborhood of black people,  near the current Lezama Park, and once adopted by the compadritos, malevos and poor creoles, the rooting in Barracas, San Cristobal, La Boca and San Telmo. And lists the first renowned dancers,  Carmen Gómez, La Parda Refucilo, Pepa la Chata, La Mondonguito and María La Vasca . Note that he names milongueras by marking the first firuletes, not males as usually appear in canonical photographs cuttlefish. As for music,  Viejo Tanguero/Saldías  refers to the  Academy of Independence and Pozos  , “a name given for the modernization of tango” and to avoid police raids, he points out, and names the  black Casimiro and the mulato Sinforoso  that led to tango to his greatest “heyday” in the 1870s — and imaginatively inaugurates a nostalgic and traditionalist look at the genre long before the  Old Guard. 

 José Antonio Saldías, chronicler of the new Argentina 

 Saldías  (1891-1946) should be placed in the context of the modern professionalization of Argentine  writers and journalists. A wayward son of historian  Adolfo Saldías,  he left military studies to live the centennial bohemian with novelist characters,  Charles de Soussens and Antonio Monteavaro  , the closest Buenos Aires had to the Parisian bohemians of the Moulin Rouge, or others who would make up the cultural machinery,  Alberto Gerchunoff and Ricardo Rojas , among them. He lived a youth in “pieces of houses in the suburb” and “plotting with malanders and immigrants” In the case of this journalist, who started in  La Razón , it is in  the nascent national theater where he gets notoriety, a yearning of several companions on the road who failed like  Roberto Payró or Manuel Gálvez . Good reviews of the aforementioned  “Night of Garufa ” precede the successful “  The Distinguished Citizen ”, written in collaboration with  Raul Casariego , and which exceeded one hundred consecutive performances. Part of the rapid acceptance of the plays was “a direct theater for the public”, in the words of  Saldías himself, which did not seek to show the mismatch between the literate culture, and the popular public of the Podestas, but instead put them into dialogue without cracks.  Saldías  was a man who could interview Mario Carlés, of the fascist Patriotic League, in the same newspaper, and in the afternoon, the anarchist Alberto Ghiraldo. And go have a coffee with both of them to La Brasileira. Director of the Institute of Theatre Studies and the Theatre Museum, founding member and defender of the General Society of Authors of Argentina (Argentores), is also remembered as the author of tangos. One of them, the classic “Perdón viejita” with music by  Osvaldo Fresedo , was recorded by his great friend,  Carlos Gardel.  His play  “De Gabino a Gardel”,  shared with  Ivo Pelay  , was premiered at the Teatro Nacional with the  Cantor of Buenos Aires  on stage in  1933. 

“The moment has finally come”, says in his memoirs this exemplary costumbrist of the Buenos Aires people of the first half century, and adds quoting the actors and actresses who starred in his first dramaturgy, today legends of the Argentine show, “In the middle of an absolute silence the curtain rose and started the first painting. I started by noticing with pleasure that where I had marked a situation with parliaments of circumstances, people laughed frankly, to silence themselves immediately and follow the dramatic incidences carefully... The second picture really liked; the two canillitas incarnated in  Olinda Bozán and Livia Zapata ... and the final painting came, that of “ Hansen”. Panchito —Aranaz,  Spanish actor-, to give the painting more reality, had hired a typical orchestra, whose bandoneon was played by a fourteen-year-old boy called the  Pibe de la Paternal  . Today in the world of “broadcasts” is called  Osvaldo Fresedo . It was the first time that a typical one was put on stage and that was also counted as an incentive... the truth was that  “Garufa Night ”, premiered in December 1913, was a success”, concludes  Saldías about the debut of a Típica  de Tango Orchestra in the national theater. 

 And they went out to heel the Italian ones 

“Despite the ban on dance houses, they managed to establish some of them in the dark neighborhood of Corrientes, which, as is known, was the focus of the vice clubs. They adopted the system of the organ covered with the mattress...”, advances in the chronicle  Viejo Tanguero/Saldías  in 1880, “ La Stella di Roma,  in Corrientes and Uruguay, known for the dance of Pepín, was the first to settle and the one that had the greatest boom due to the attraction that he exercised.the sisters Balbina, Rosa and Maria. Later the  Italian Scudo arose... the Provin House, the Bridgebridge and others saw ephemeral life, because after a certain time the police concluded with them... in this neighborhood the tango underwent great innovations changing its figures... also its elasticity and contonoushellip; Played by mostly Italian girls, they did not adapt to the movement printed on him by creoles, and it was then given the name of Tango Liso... the skinny Saul... -and- Mariano the dancer, assiduous assistant to the  Scudo of Italy , with a Paulina who had all the clientele... were rolling in the yard -the other tango lovers - to admire and applaud the difficult figures they invented... -but- after a reign of two years disappeared -the tango- and with them the dancers and dancers, many of them who spread through La Plata and villages of the province, where the Academies came in,” says the journalist of the times prior to the  Revolution of the Park  and the fall of  President Juarez Oh, Celman.  And he traces a tango that will have Argentinian destination in the democratic dawn. In this parent article written by  Saldías  on the previous night of an aristocratic dance at the Palace Theatre in 1913, those who organized “the children well” of Barón De Marchi, celebrated the “old tango that with shameful stigma came to national life” for stay.

Sources: Viejo Tanguero.  The Tango. Its evolution and its history. History of past times. Who implanted it . In Crítica newspaper, 22-9-1913. Buenos Aires: Academia Porteña del Lunfardo. 1987; Saldías, A.  The unforgettable bohemian porteña.  Buenos Aires: Freeland. 1968;  Criticism. Art and society in an Argentine newspaper (1913-1941).  Buenos Aires: OSDE Foundation. 2016; Labraña, L.-Sebastián, A.  Tango. A story.  Buenos Aires: Corregidor. 2000

Publication Date: 01/10/2020

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