The cabaret is a type of night club featuring dinner and show. In Buenos Aires they appeared in the early 1910’s and are closely related to the history of tango. During the 1930’s they evolved into luxurious restaurants with a dance floor surrounded by tables and a bar. This is where the major orchestras of the golden age such as those of Juan d’Arienzo and Anibal Troilo could be found on a regular basis.

The Buenos Aires cabarets were located mostly in the center of the city along avenida Corrientes. Some were frequented only by men and were animated by the mysterious alternadoras, coperas and papirusas, which were all women who were in charge of entertaining men and get them to consume and to come back. Some of these restaurants-dancing also were designed for couples to go out together for a cozy evening.

The cabaret of the golden age was usually associated to a particular tango orchestra which was the main attraction of the house and a measure of their prestige. Juan d’Arienzo was the star at Chanteclerc, Anibal Troilo the soul of Tibidabo and Lucio Demare was at El Casanova.

If tango orchestras were the main attraction at the cabaret of the golden age, they were not the only entertainment. Jazz orchestras and other performers were also featured before and after during the evening. And on Saturdays the típicas were off to perform in popular dance halls across the city.

Some of the legendary cabarets of Buenos Aires are the Armenonville, the Chantecler, the Royal Pigall, the Marabú and Palais de glace. These were the luxurious cabarets mostly located along the Avenida Corrientes. More humble cabarets, also known as los del Bajo, were located near the port and what is now the Centro cultural Kirtchner. The Ocean Dancing, which featured Miguel Caló and Osvaldo Pugliese, was located at Leandro N. Alem 286. Nearby was the Montmartre, el Royal, el Derby and Cielo de California where guests were greeted by a doorman dressed up like a cowboy. [2]

When the popularity of tango and live music declined in the 1950’s and 60’s, most cabarets were already closed. They remain present and alive in the poetry of tango, and their influence is obvious in the organization of traditional milongas.


[1] Tango: Cien anos de historia (Vol. II). Buenos Aires: Editorial Perfil, 1992. Print.

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online.

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