Cabaret

The cabaret is a type of night club, originally from Paris, where people go to entertain themselves for an evening, eat, drink alcoholic beverages and enjoy a show. In Buenos Aires the cabarets appeared in the early 1910’s and are closely associated to the the history of tango.

A typical Buenos Aires cabaret of the golden age of tango was essentially a luxurious restaurants with a dance floor surrounded by tables and a bar. These restaurant-dancing were mostly located in the center of the city along avenida Corrientes. Some were frequented by men only with alternadoras, coperas and papirusas, women who were in charge of keeping men entertained and consuming. Others were designed for couples.

In the 30’s and 40’s each cabaret featured a particular ochestra típica which was the main attraction of the house and determined the prestige of each cabaret. For exemple, Juan d’Arienzo was associated to the Chanteclerc, Anibal Troilo to the Tibidabo and  Lucio Demare to El Casanova. Though they were the main attraction of the house, tango orchestras shared the space with jazz orchestras and other performers. On Saturdays they would be away, performing in popular dance halls across the city.

Some of those luxurious Buenos Aires cabarets include the Armenonville, Chantecler, Royal Pigall, Marabú and Palais de glace. More humble cabarets, los del Bajo, were located near the port and the actual Centro cultural Kirtchner. The Ocean Dancing, which featured Miguel Caló and Oswaldo Pugliese, was located at Leandro N. Alem 286.  Nearby was the Montmartre, el Royal, el Derby and Cielo de California where guests were greated by a doorman dressed up like a cowboy. [2]

Most Buenos Aires cabarets were closed when the popularity of tango and live music in general declined in the 1950’s and 60’s. They are evoqued in many tangos which were targetted by the prohibition as the word “cabaret” was banned along with lunfardo terms and inappropriate terms identified by the military government.  [2]

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[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.   http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/

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