Category Archives: Media

Las luces de Buenos Aires (movie, 1931)

“Las luces de Buenos Aires” is a 1931 Paramount movie featuring Carlos Gardel and his tango “Tomo y obligo“. This is the first full-length sound film featuring Carlos Gardel. It was filmed in the Paramount’s Joinville studios near Paris and marks the beginning of Gardel’s international career.

Before “Las luces de Buenos Aires”, Carlos Gardel appeared in the silent movie “Flor de durazno” in 1917. He also produced 10 short musical films or videoclips in 1930.  After “Las luces de Buenos Aires” he was featured in other Paramount movies including “Melodía de arrabal” (1933), “Cuesta abajo” (1934),  “El tango en Broadway” (1934), “Tango bar” (1935) and “El día que me quieras” (1935).

In “Las luces de Buenos Aires”, Carlos Gardel plays the role of a ranch owner, the estanciero Anselmo Torres. Anselmo and his girlfriend Elvira (Sofía Bozán) were happy and in love until she goes one day to the city looking for fame and fortune as a singer. In Buenos Aires she is treated with little respect but she does her best  to play the game and to become a star. Heartbroken Anselmo comes to get her but she rejects him. He persists in his intentions of getting her back and she end up returning to the estancia. ​

The movie features many scenes of signing and dancing both of tango and folclore. It was premiered in Septiember 1931 in Buenos Aires movie theatres and had a wild success not only in Argentina but in other Hispanic countries. This is the movie that made Gardel an international star and promoted tango yet to another level of popularity.

The music was composed by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez and performed by Julio de Caro with Francisco de Caro and Pedro Laurenz. It features the tango “Tomo y obligo” which drove spectators wild in movie theatres across Latin America and Spain. It is said that people applauded so loudly at «Tomo y obligo» that the operators had to rewind the movie and play it over again.

“Las luces de Buenos Aires” translates to “The lights of Buenos Aires”. It was written by Luis Bayón Herrera and Manuel Romero.

Chantecler (cabaret)

El Chantecler was a luxurious Buenos Aires cabaret located on Parana 440, between avenida Corrientes and Lavalle. It was initially owned by a french man named Charles Seguin who was also owner of the Casino and Tabari. It was briefly named Vieux Paris in the 1930s.

Built and designed chanteclerin 1924 to be a most modern and luxirious cabaret, the Chantecler featured a driveway for automobiles to drop guests at the door, 3 dance floors and a large theater with VIP boxes which were equipped with telephones for guests to place orders at the bar. It featured an interior pool where beautiful young people were swimming and playing games. The doorman and host of the house was Ángel Sánchez Carreño, also known as El principe cubano. Another well-known character of the legendary cabaret Chantecler was Giovanna Ritana, or Jeannette, who managed the place with her husband after the death of Charles Seguin. [1]

For more then 30 years, El Chantecler attracted tourists and wealthy locals to enjoy some of the finest dining and entertainment experience in the city. It was inaugurated by the Sexteto Julio de Caro which was composed of Julio de Caro himself, his brothers Emilio and Francisco de Caro, Pedro Laurenz, Pedro Maffia and Leopoldo Thompson. In the 1930’s it became the primary scene of Juan D’Arienzo and the headquarters of a new process of rejuvenation of tango. This is where D’Arienzo began working with Rodolfo Biagi in 1935 and met Pablo Osvaldo Valle, director of Radio el Mundo.

Like other Buenos Aires cabarets, the Chantecler became inactive as tango fell out of fashion in the 1950’s. It was demolished in 1960. Two tangos were composed to celebrate it, “Adiós Chantecler” by Enrique Cadicamo and “Glorioso Chantecler” by Juan Polito. A 1948 movie, “El cantor del pueblo”, was filmed inside of it, allowing us to see couples dancing to the orchestra of Juan d’Arienzo. [3] A musical entitled “Chantecler Tango” was produced in 2015 by Mora Godoy.

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[1] Parise, Eduardo. El templo de la vieja noche porteña. Clarín, mayo 2015. Online. https://www.clarin.com/ciudades/secreta-buenos_aires-chantecler_0_rkEDoFYDml.html(1)

[2] Palacio, Jorge. Los cabarets de los anos cuarenta. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/163/Los-cabarets-de-los-anos-cuarenta/

[3] Juan D’Arienzo performing at the Chantecler. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAEeBRbwhJk

El entrerriano (tango, 1897)

“El entrerriano” is regarded as the first tango in history. It was composed in 1887 by pianist Rosendo Mendizábal under the pseudonym of A. Rosendo. Along with other early compositions such as Don Juan (1899) and “El cholco” (1903), it contributed to establish and consolidate the musical structure of tango.

Many others tangos had been composed and popularized before 1887, but “El entrerriano” offers the first printed tango partitions with registered author. [2] It is also the oldest tango still present in today’s repertoire and so is generally regarded as the first tango in history.

“El entrerriano” means “the one who comes from the province of Entre Rios“. It was dedicated to Ricardo Sergovia, a member of a young men’s club which regularly held their parties at Lo de Maria la Vasca.

Lo de Maria la Vasca was a well known casa de baile where Rosendo Mendizábal had become the regular pianist.

Since copyrights didn’t exist at the end of the 19th century, it was common for composers to dedicate their work to someone who could pay them in return. Ricardo Sergovia, to whom this tango was dedicated, was born in the province of Entre Rios in Argentina and this is why the piece was entitled “El entrerriano”. [1]

Like most early tango compositions, “El entrerriano” is essentially instrumental. Many different lyrics were written over the years by A. Semino y S. Retondaro, Planells y Amor, Julián Porteño and Homero Expósito but were rarely used or recorded. Ángel Villoldo also added some verses to “El entrerriano” for Pepita Avellaneda in 1900:

“A mí me llaman Petita, ay ay, de apellido Avellaneda, ay ay, famosa por la milonga, y conmigo no hay quien pueda”

Unfortunately Rosendo Mendizábal died in 1913 leaving no recordings. That same year “El entrerriano” was recorded twice by Genaro Espósito and Eduardo Arola under the labels Atlanta and Odeon respectively. Other early recordings of “El entrerriano” include that of Ciriaco Ortiz with his trio and another recording by the municipal band.

Many versions of “El entrerriano” were recorded by orchestras of the guardia vieja and of the golden age including those of Francisco Canaro, Julio de Caro, Osvaldo Fresedo, Juan D’arienzo, Alfredo de Angelis, Anibal Troilo and Osvaldo Pugliese.

Astor Piazzolla recorded his own version of the first tango in history with his Octeto Buenos Aires.

“El entrerriano” was performed in the Argentine sound film “Tango” (1933) by the Orquesta de la guardia vieja of Ernesto Ponzio and Juan Carlos Bazan.

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[1] Del Priore, Oscar, and Irene Amachástegui. Cien tangos fundamentales. Buenos Aires: Aguilar, 1998. Print.

[2] Selles, Roberto. El Entrerriano. La historia de “El entrerriano” y sus principales grabaciones. Todotango. Online. http://www.todotango.com/historias/cronica/380/El-entrerriano-Historia-de-El-entrerriano-y-sus-principales-grabaciones/

[3] Selles, Roberto. “El tango y sus dos primeras decadas (1880- 1900)” in La historia del tango: Primera epoca. Buenos Aires: Corregidor. 1977. Print.

Lo de Hansen

Lo de Hansen” was a very exclusive restaurant located in a ranch in the Parques de Palermo, near the limits of the 19th century city of Buenos Aires. It played an important role in the popularization of tango by introducing tango musicians of the first generation to the upper classes. It was demolished in 1912 but remained a legend of tango history.

The “Restaurant del parque 3 de Febrero y J. Hansen” was founded in 1877 by a German immigrant named Juan Hansen. During the day it was popular with good families coming for a daytrip to the park and stopping by for drinks and lunch. In the evening it was very animated with lights and exclusive entertainment for the high society.

Ángel Villoldo, Ernesto Ponzio, Luis Teisseire and Roberto Firpo are some of the first generation tango musicians who were featured at Lo de Hansen. Carlos Gardel also performed there in his youth, though he was not involved with tango yet.

There is a widespread believe that people used to dance tango at Lo de Hansen, as suggested in the 1937 movie “Los Muchachos de antes no usaban gomina“. However there is little evidence of that being accurate and it is in fact unlikely that tango music was ever performed on this site during Hansen’s lifetime.

Hansen past away in 1892 and the restaurant became the Cafe Tarana, owned by Anselmo Tarana. However people continued referring to it as Lo de Hansen.

What we do know for a fact, because of documented police reports, is that Ángel Villoldo’s tango “El esquinazo” was quite a hit at the Tarana in 1902. In fact it was banned because of the turmoil it caused when enthusiastic patrons began banging on tables and dishes to the point where the owner feared for his property. It is said that is was nearly destroyed once and there are reports of a warning sign saying “Forbidden to play the tango “El Esquinazo“.

According to Roberto Firpo, there was never any tango dancing at Lo de Hansen because dances involving “cortes and quebradas” were forebidden at that time. If Lo de Hansen gained a reputation for being a place where people danced the tango, it was most probably because of isolated cases of law defying acts. Not because it held sophisticated dance parties such as those we see in the 1937 movie.

The Tarana was demolished in 1912 by intendent Joaquín S. de Anchorena to open up the road to the Velódromo. Lo de Hansen was declared “Sitio de interés cultural” by the city of Buenos Aires in 1994. It is beautifully evoked in a 1929 tango by Francisco Canaro and Manuel Romero, “Tiempos viejos”.

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Benaros, León. “El tango y los lugares y casas de baile.” In La historia del tango, primera epoca. Buenos Aires: Corregidor, 1977.

Sitios de interes cultural: Lo de Hansen. Online. http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/cultura/cpphc/sitios/detalle.php?id=4

“La historia del cafe de Hansen”. La Nación, August 22, 2017. Online.  https://www.lanacion.com.ar/2054462-la-historia-del-cafe-de-hansen-un-mitico-bar-de-palermo-donde-se-prohibio-un-tango

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”  is a 1921 Hollywood silent movie. It was based on a Spanish novel of the same name by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. The story depicts an Argentinean family which was divided during WWI and ended up fighting on opposite sides. It stars actor Rudoph Valentino in the role of Julio Desnoyers, grandson of Argentine landowner Madariaga.

The movie is famous for a scene involving tango dancing. It occurs in a club of La Boca where Julio goes to enjoy an evening with his grand father. He notices a couple on the dance floor, walks up to them pretending to get the woman for himself, knocks out his rival and conquers her while dancing a very particular sort of tango in his gaucho attire. After looking down on him and laughing in his face, the woman fall head over heels, kisses him on the lips in front of everyone and ends up sitting on his lap at his table.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” became the the top-grossing film of 1921, beating Charlie Chaplin and turning Rudolph Valentino into a superstar. The latin lover’s effect was such that men were seen wearing gel in their hair and people began learning to dance the tango. [1] Another silent movie involving tango dancing and gauchos in the Andes was released in Hollywood in 1928. [5] Tango remained a recurrent theme in american films ever since, unfortunately perpetuating fantasists clichés for the most part. [3]

In 1995 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. It now pertains to the public domain and can be viewed or downloaded online on the Internet Archive website. [4] π

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[1] GROPPA, Carlos G. The tango in the United states. Jefferson: McFarland & Company Inc. 2004. Print.

[2] QUIN, Eleanor. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). Turner Classic Movies. Online. 

[3] GROPPA, Carlos. Hollywood vs Tango. Tango reporter. Online. 

[4] The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse [4]  

[5] The Gauho (1927). IMDb. Online. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017918/plotsummary ref_=tt_ov_pl