Category Archives: Tango

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

Tango history (six stages)

The history of tango can be divided into six stages according to Horacio Ferrer and the Academia nacional del tango. [1]

The Academia nacional del tango was created in 1990 by the Government of Argentina to preserve and organize documents related to all aspects of tango history and to make them available for educational purpose, academic research and new artistic projects.

1. Origins of tango (1850-1895)

2. Guardia vieja (1895-1925)

  • Eclosión (1995-1925)
  • Formalización (1910-1925)

3. Guardia nueva (1925-1955)

  • La transformación (1925-1940)
  • La exaltación (1940-1955)

4. Vanguardia (1955-1970)

5. Contemporaneo (1970-2000)

  • La universalización (1970-1985)
  • La perduración (1985-2000)

6. Actual (2000- until now)

Tango begins to emerge out of a blend of elements of European, African and local origins in the second half of the 19th century. It becomes a clearly distinct genre, acquires many of its defining characteristics and gains popularity during the guardia vieja phase. It continues to refine and evolve to reach its golden age with the guardia nueva in the 1940s and experiences a phase of decline with the advent of rock and roll and the end of the big band area. Tango went on evolving during the vanguardia phase with the work of composers such as Pugliese and Piazzolla, regained worldwide popularity in the contemporary phase and becomes an increasingly popular dance again towards the beginning of the 21st century.

One interesting aspect of Horacio Ferrer’s work is the emphasis he puts on contemporary events and the strong vision he has of the renovation tango is currently undergoing. π

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[1] FERRER, Horacio. El Siglo de oro del Tango: compendio ilustrado de su historia. Buenos Aires: Editorial El Mate, 1996.

Tango

Tango is a musical genre and a type of social dance which emerged in the port cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo towards the end of the 19th century. It is the result of a fusion between elements of African, European and local origin brought together by different waves of immigration.

Little is known about the exact circumstances in which tango emerged but the musical styles which came into the creation of tango include milonga, habanera, candombe, tango andaluz, mazurca and polka. Choreographically, tango adopted the controversial close embrace of waltz and was characterized in the early stages by the emblematic “cortes” and “quebradas“, whereas tango poetry, which emerged and developed later, built on the gaucho tradition of payadores and evolved into a new style of song which expresses urban concerns and realities of life in a fast growing city.

The history of tango is complex; it includes various phases of evolution and waves of popularity around the world. According to Horacio Ferrer [1] and the Academia nacional del tango it can be divided in six stages:

  1. Origins of tango (1850-1895)
  2. Guardia vieja (1895-1925)
  3. Guardia nueva (1925-1955)
  4. Vanguardia (1955-1970)
  5. Contemporaneo (1970-2000)
  6. Actual (2000- until now)

Each stage is divided into different phases and characterized by the evolution of musical structures, poetry and dance. π

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[1] FERRER, Horacio. El Siglo de oro del Tango: compendio ilustrado de su historia. Buenos Aires: Editorial El Mate, 1996.