El Firulete - Planet Tango


El Firulete - Planet Tango
December 2000
Volume 7 Issue 5
El Firulete
December 2000
The unavoidable emptiness
that his passing left behind
Dancers need to be schooled
to learn and identify music
Of camdombe and tambores
The Legacy of Osvaldo Pugliese
Tango, our dance
$5.00 U.S.A.
and much more...
The Legacy - Vol. 1
Non-commercial compilation
El Firulete
December 2000
n 1960, the Osvaldo Pugliese orchestra featured a number of high caliber
musicians: Osvaldo Pugliese (piano and direction), Osvaldo Ruggiero,
Víctor Lavallén, Julián Plaza and Arturo Penón, in the bandoneon line;
Oscar Herrero, Julio Carrasco and Emilio Balcarce, violins; Norberto
Bernasconi, viola; Aniceto Rossi, counterbass.
In 1968 Julio Carrasco was replaced by Raúl Domínguez; Alcides Rossi
replaced his father Aniceto Rossi on counterbass and the viola was omitted.
In October, 1968, Osvaldo Ruggiero, Julian Plaza, Emilio Balcarce, Oscar
Herrero, Alcides Rossi, Victor Lavallén and singer Jorge Maciel, left to form a
new group named Sexteto Tango.
With an uncanny perseverance and the vision and talent of a genius, Pugliese
brought in three young bandoneon players to join Arturo Penon: Rodolfo
Mederos, Juan Jose Mosalini and Daniel Binelli. The renewed orchestra also
included Mauricio Marcelli, Raúl Domínguez and Santiago Cuchevaski, on
violins; Bautista Huerta on viola; Pedro Vidaurre on violoncello and Fernando
Romano on counterbass.
Shorthly thereafter Mederos and Mosalini left and were replaced by the
bandoneons of Alejandro Prevignano and Roberto Álvarez; violinists Marcelli and Cuchevaski also left and were replaced
by Osvaldo Monterde and Hermes Peressini, Jr.; Merei Brain took over the viola; Silvio Pucci on violoncello and Amilcar
Tolosa at the counterbass.
Arguably, the instrumental selections on this CD portray the gigantic dimension of Osvaldo Pugliese as an arranger and
director. These are arrangements of well known traditional and modern classics from Bardi to Piazzolla making this CD
priceless to even the most sophisticated connoisseur who will gasp while listening to masterpiece after masterpiece.
1. Que noche (1968), 2. La payanca (1964), 3. Lorenzo (1965), 4. Cabulero (1962), 5. Don Agustin Bardi (1961), 6.
Charamusca (1963), 7. La biandunga (1969), 8. Verano porteño (1966), 9. El motivo (1966), 10. Orlando Goñi (1965), 11.
Inspiracion (1962), 12. Taconeando (1970), 13. La ultima cita (1969), 14. Di Di, 15. Nostalgico (1962), 16. La mariposa
(1966), 17. El amanecer (1964), 18. Nobleza de arrabal (1966), 19. El Marne (1969), 20. A Evaristo Carriego (1969)
his CD is a companion to El Firulete's October 2000's cover story. Francisco Canaro authored over five hundred tangos, valses and milongas,
although some have argued that his business practices regarding copyrights
were questionable. Regardless, quality was sacrificed in pursuit of quantity. The
Canaro Tango machinery kept the record presses busy during many years, a sign of
a healthy demand for tangos, no matter what.
CANARO by Canaro
plus Canaro by Rodolfo Biagi
Non-commercial compilation
Whether he actually sat down and wrote them, or he acquired some in exchange for a bottle of cheap wine at the riverside cantinas, there is a body of
compositions that carry the Canaro signature that constitutes a collection of
themes that have become classics. They have been played by many of the greatest
(D'Arienzo, Pugliese, Di Sarli, Troilo, etc.).
Here we have a selection of the best of Canaro by the various Canaro quintets
and orchestras. Also, there is a rare version of the Tango Canaro, written by a
friend of Pirincho, and played by Rodolfo Biagi.
1. El internado, 2. El pollito, 3. Nobleza de arrabal, 4. Sufra, 5. Mano brava, 6.
El pillin, 7. El alacran, 8. El gavilan, 9. Punto bravo,10. El chamuyo, 11.
Charamusca, 12. Corazon de oro, 13. Vibraciones del alma, 14. Nueve puntos, 15.
La tablada, 16. Sentimiento gaucho, 17. Halcon negro, 18. Ahi va el dulce, 19. Quisiera amarte menos, 20. Canaro by Rodolfo
December 2000
El Firulete
The Argentine Tango Magazine
Vol 7 Issue 5
December 2000
Planet Tango
Joint Editors
Alberto Paz & Valorie Hart
Contributing Writers
Alberto Paz
Valorie Hart
Photos and Image Processing
Valorie Hart
Alberto Paz
Julio Canosa
Graphic Design and Production
Alberto Paz
Editorial, Advertising, Inquiries,
Comments, Questions and Suggestions
Planet Tango
1000 Bourbon St., #202
New Orleans, LA 70116
E-mail to:
[email protected]
[email protected]
The information published is intended for
entertainment purposes only and it is as
accurate as possible. All correspondence and
manuscripts are submitted at owner’s risk. All
become property of the publisher.
All rights reserved throughout the world.
Printed in the United States of America. No part
of this publication may be transmitted or
reproduced in any form or by any means without
the express written consent of the publishers.
The opinions and advertising printed in El
Firulete are the sole responsibility of the
authors, and they are not necessarily the
opinions of the publishers therefore we can not
be held liable for their opinions and their
Cover price $5.00
12 issues subscription
$30 in the US, $40 in Canada,
$50 international
Another Year,
Another Tango
his time of the year Tango dancers become
aware of the existence of other people who,
curiously enough are not Tango dancers. These
are coworkers, friends or family members who, full of
Alberto Paz
the spirit of the holiday season want to share the joy
and the celebration of another year coming to an end.
It is a period of adjustment for those who have been dancing Tango every
opportunity they had. Being at parties where the topics of conversation are just
about anything people like to talk about, and the music tends to focus on chestnuts roasting on an open fire or silent nights of peace and love, could be unsettling for Tango dancers who describe their pastime with words such as obsession, passion and addiction.
Maybe it is a sign of the times we live in, the by-product of a society where
stress and isolation are dealt with with pills and alcohol, or in some cases with
embracing an activity such as Tango dancing the way others join a wide variety
of cults. In any case, the possibilities that Tango dancing offers, open the doors
for a mixed lot of individuals with very little in common but the desire to be
Tango dancers.
It is a miracle that so diverse of a culture as our American society is in
terms of balancing materialistic and spiritual values, that a selected minority of
the population have chosen to adopt the way of life of a segment of a foreign
culture as a pastime of choice, and a determining force to achieve growth and
universality. It is amazing that in a culture used to opening up a conversation
inquiring not who you are but what you do, some are willing to grasp the fact
that Tango dancing is what we do and who we are.
There is an aspect closely associated with Tango dancing that is still difficult
to fit into the American culture, prone as it is to competition and individual
achievement which at times dangerously borders jealousy and envy. We call it
'amistad' which is a concept of friendship where being called an 'amigo' is a
precious commodity involving love and respect for each other.
Silly as it may come across, in the Argentine social culture, mothers are
forever brides and fathers more than fathers are friends. The young are protected and the old are respected. Friendships aren't spoiled by success or failure, wealth or poverty, good times or bad times. Friends rejoice when they
make progress on the dance floor. Friends kid around as they compete to outdo
each other on the art of firuletes. They feel loved and appreciated when trading
jokes about each other's whims and mannerisms.
Friends, Tango dancers or not, are the ones who once a year around this
time, remind us to enjoy and celebrate the accomplishment of having lived
another year, and having danced another Tango.
El Firulete
to us but Rodolfo didn't want to do it.
On Our Cover
The Emptiness Left Behind
For those who knew Rodolfo Cieri, his passing earlier this year
meant sorrow, sadness and grief. It also rekindled the sweet
memories of his presence on the dance floor.
t has taken many months and
countless dry attempts, to sit and
listen to three hours of a taped
conversation we had with Rodolfo and
Maria on June 21, 1996 at our former
home in Sunnyvale, California.
In the nineties I found out about the
death of, first my dad and five years
later my mom, too late to be at their
side, given the choice I made earlier in
my life to move away and live in
another land, far away from home.
In many ways, they still live in my
memories as they have for the past thirty
two years, and I know that sometime in
the future I will join them for the eternal
journey. The point is that somewhere in
my heart and soul, the tears and grief
associated with the death of our beloved
ones, are still prisoners of distance and
This seems to have been the blessing or the curse of immigrants and
emigrants who went to or departed from
Argentina during the last century and a
half. I no longer wonder about the tears
bursting from my eyes and the sobs that
threaten to explode inside my chest as
La rayuela by Pugliese reaches the
sublime moment when violins and
bandoneons sing and cry in an anticipated celebration of the inevitable
ending of the song.
I first saw Rodolfo and Maria early
in June 1996 at a milonga in Berkeley,
California. The introduction by the host
barely cut across the indifference of a
vocal crowd who seemed to have gotten
used to the necessary evil of interrupting
the milongas with "announcements."
All we could see was an elderly couple
tastefully dancing to the Pugliese's
rendition of Emancipacion.
Nineteen-ninety-six was a transition
December 2000
By Alberto Paz
Photo by Valorie Hart
Rodolfo and Maria with Alberto in
Sunnyvale, CA. June 21, 1996
year for our Tango dancing education,
so even when the couple on the dance
floor was not "hot dogging," flying or
otherwise trying to impress the ignorant,
I was left in a daze by the craftsmanship
and seductive allure of their ever precise
and calculated moves. But what really
affected me the most, was Rodolfo's
cherub-like smile as he played with the
creative genius of Pugliese coming from
the speakers.
A few days later, for reasons that no
longer matter, a common friend brought
them to our house, where they lived for
the remaining weeks of their sole stay in
the United States.
A Club named Suerte Loca
Rodolfo danced the same way all
his life never considering the possibility
that something special would ever
happen to change the course of his life.
In 1954 the orchestra of Anibal
Troilo headed the cast of El Patio de la
Morocha at a theater on Avenida
Corrientes. Dancing couples were
needed and Maria recalls, This was
before we got married, they came to talk
It's not that he didn't have the
opportunity, but he never wanted to
dance professionally. That's just fine
with Maria, because If he had started
doing it then, we wouldn't be here
together today.
More than twenty years went by
without dancing and being married with
children. When the daughter finally got
married herself, Rodolfo was working
out of a Ford pick up truck doing what
the UPS men and women do today, pick
up and delivery of packages. Faced with
an empty nest, he didn't want to consider
getting older quicker by coming home to
watch television. He had heard about a
popular tangueria that was in vogue,
Volver, on Corrientes and Suipacha.
One Friday, celebrating a windfall of
money that had come his way at work,
he invited Maria to go dancing at
Volver. Arriving early, they told the
maitre d' that they were new to the
scene, and asked for a good spot on the
dance floor from where he proceeded to
watch the caliber of the dancers as they
kept arriving.
At 2 AM they played La
cumparsita and ten to fifteen couples
took to the floor.
RODOLFO: The music of Troilo from
the Forties gives you room to do a lot of
things, so when they began playing it I
told Maria, let's lead the way and I went
"pin, pan, pow." Half an hour later a
young couple approached our table. She
was an Argentine woman living in
France. He was her French partner.
They had seen them dance and
asked if they were teachers. No, they
were told. They were just milongueros
from Buenos Aires and that's all.
Rodolfo said that he always danced
because he felt the Tango deep inside.
Later Rodolfo and Maria joined the
young couple at their table and found
out that they were staying at a hotel.
They invited them to move to their
home were they developed a good
friendship while teaching them to dance
Tango the way they knew.
When the couple finally left for
December 2000
Europe they asked Rodolfo if they
would consider traveling to France. Of
course answered Rodolfo, but as the
plane took off he turned to Maria and
said, I doubt that these people would
want to pay me to go to Europe after
they've seem over a hundred couples
dancing at Volver.
Six months later they received a
letter and two plane tickets. The trip to
France was happening. As they pondered the reality of crossing the ocean
on a puny airplane, Rodolfo and Maria
couldn't believe their insane luck on that
fateful day of 1988.
El Firulete
and help from generous compatriots.
Rene Fabianelli was one of them.
In the years that followed, Rene
became the "guardian angel" who
organized their successful tours around
France and the rest of Europe. Meanwhile in Buenos Aires Rodolfo kept
telling friends about their crazy luck,
and that one day he'll open his own
Tango Club, appropriately named,
RODOLFO: I said to her: you saw me
dancing in Buenos Aires; you saw me
dancing with my wife. That's how you
agreed to bring us here, as a couple.
Now, you can't ask us to do something
different. No way.
RODOLFO: After the first year of
high school I quit. I told 'mi viejo,' I
want to be a dancer. He didn't insist a
lot. That's something I regret today, that
he didn't try harder to keep me in
He developed a style and spent
years as a night creature of the
milongas. When he met Maria, she was
barely fourteen. Dating in those days
meant meeting her at the street corner
by her house while the sun was up. A
vampire would have fared better, but he
kept his courtship up for almost three
MARIA: I was seventeen years old
when I married the first and only man I
had known. I wanted to sing, to play the
guitar. Suddenly, the 'no' from my father
had been replaced by the 'no' of my
husband. Meanwhile, he kept going out
addicted to the life of the milonga and
the allure of other women. It's a long
story, but I wasn't prepared for that. His
parents played an important role
making me come back every time I had
decided to leave.
The woman in question had a dance
academy in Marseilles, and she had put
together a major production based on
the History of Tango. The expensive
project played once at Teatro del
Molino, and it included a full comparsa
of black people entering the stage from
behind the public to perform a
candombe number that left Maria
MARIA: It was a wonderful experience and we're forever grateful to that
woman for giving us that first opportunity. Sadly, within twenty days things
turned sour as misunderstandings
turned into problems. The hostess, who
later gave up Tango dancing, erred
badly with us. Gradually she began
demanding to be Rodolfo's partner. She
wanted him to dye his hair and to get rid
of his glasses.
Photo by Flash Gordo
Rodolfo and Maria Cieri's memorable
performance at the Dance Spectrum in
Campbell, CA. July 1996
Suerte Loca.
A Milonguero of good stock
Thirty days to the date of arrival in
France, Rodolfo and Maria left the
woman's house and moved in with
Elena, who with partner Alfredo tried
very hard to help them survive for the
remaining six months of their stay.
Rodolfo learned to dance Tango
from his father as a kid. His mother
objected because she wanted him to go
to school and be somebody. Rodolfo did
both. He pleased his proud father at the
old man's milongas in La Paternal
dancing with sisters and cousins at the
tender age of ten.
Singing, dancing Tango and folklore, Rodolfo and Maria managed to
make ends meet stranded in a foreign
land, handicapped by the language
barrier, with plenty of tools of their own
Time came for Rodolfo to go to
school. Dad insisted that he devote time
to study rather than dancing. The night
life could be dangerous and lead to no
RODOLFO: We were separated three
times until my Dad kicked me out of the
house and told me I was worse than
garbage for playing with the life of a
decent and loving woman. He told me in
no uncertain terms that I had to choose
between the milonga and my family.
Well, thanks to all that we are together
today, enjoying something that I never
expected: dancing and making friends.
They have danced together and they
have witnessed a time when there were
real dancers at every club. Dancers who
competed to be the best. Dancers who
would never consider imitating anybody
else. Dancers who dressed to kill to
impress the ladies before dazzling them
with their brilliance on the dance floor.
They both admire Juan Bruno, the
Juan Bruno from the time when he
used to dance Tango Salon.
MARIA: Very few could dance Tango
Salon. It is very difficult for the couple
to walk with the feet on the floor. To
execute paradas and turns with a
smooth rhythm and with the feet on the
floor. Juan seemed to walk like no one
I've ever seen. Rodolfo doesn't have the
profile to dance Salon. It doesn't look
good on him.
RODOLFO: Before he quit Juan was
a bailarin de tranco largo, a bird with
long legs gliding over the surface of a
lake. His moves were deliberately slow.
What I showed you today in the
canyengue, how to break your waist for
example, in Tango Salon you have to do
it very subtly, like a filigrana, like a
watermark on paper, a delicate move
which is both elegant and fancy. You
have to stand up firmly and well
grounded, and you need a partner who
does not hang on you to drop you off
your balance. When Juan stepped on
the floor for a Di Sarli piece, chills ran
down my spine before he even began to
move. I have never seen any of today's
teachers attempting to dance that way.
It's very hard. Even Juan, when he came
out of retirement a couple of years ago,
was doing something totally different.
Life is but a dream
Our table talk lingered past dessert
time. As a matter of fact time seemed to
hold still. Rodolfo seemed disturbed by
the memory of his father. The elder
Cieri had died in 1966 but his presence
still weighs strongly on this fragile man
with the glassy eyes, leaning against the
chair, holding a glass of wine.
It seems that his father kept appearing in his dreams. The recurring themes
were answers to whatever was troubling
Rodolfo at the time. Like a way to
finish the barbecue pit he had built on
the roof of the house he had constructed
by hand, one brick at a time. Or the
advice on where and how to install a
bathroom on the upper floor.
When Rodolfo talks about his
father, the tone of his voice lowers, as if
he is still aware of his presence. He had
repeated time after time stories about
the early days of his childhood when the
old man taught him to dance a brand of
Tango he had forgotten. How he began
to hate as a child, having to show off in
front of Dad's friends at the neighbor-
El Firulete
hood clubs. Later, when a young Rodolfo lived from garufa to garufa, a
dapper ladies' man at the milongas, he
avoided facing a disappointed father
with a pointing finger.
For years after the passing of the
elder Cieri, Rodolfo visited the mausoleum at the Chacarita cemetery. He
tried many times to see his father with
an inexplicable obsession until the time
came for moving the casket from the
mausoleum. The family had to decide
between ground burial or cremation.
Rodolfo convinced the family to have
the body cremated and the ashes placed
next to the graves of his grandparents.
As a truck loaded with caskets arrived,
Rodolfo demanded to identify the body.
He was going to see his Dad one last
time. RODOLFO: They had to use an axe
to break the locks and when they finally
opened the casket I yelled at the top of
my lungs! My Dad's body was intact like
the day they put him in the casket. His
face, his hands crossed over his chest
still holding a fresh orchid... My sister
hugged me... (his voice breaks and the
steady sob of a child fills the room as
the tape recorder runs for a couple of
minutes). He never went to visit the
ashes at his Dad's final resting place.
Yet, the old man kept visiting him in his
dreams. That's life, he appeared to say.
The Tango My Dad Taught Me
One day Rodolfo woke up and said
to Maria, I had a dream with my Dad. It
was such a beautiful dream. He came to
see me and he congratulated me because I had built my own house. I told
him, you see viejo? I finally succeeded
with the Tango. I have danced in Europe and here in Buenos Aires on the
stage of Teatro San Martin. I told him
all about my friendship with Carlos
Garcia, ex-pianist of Roberto Firpo who
was now the director of the Orquesta
del Tango de Buenos Aires. He listened
attentively and suddenly said, yes, but
you never danced the Tango I once
taught you.
December 2000
Maria had always been curious and
excited about the canyengue, so she
asked Rodolfo why he didn't dance it.
Rodolfo said no. He considered it
too difficult, besides he had completely
forgotten what it was that his Dad had
taught him. Then, they got a letter from
London inviting them to participate in a
show. Excited by the opportunity he
tried to remember the barrage of
canyengue steps his Dad used to dance,
but he could barely remember but a few.
Once again Dad visited him in a dream
and helped him remember some of the
moments they had spent together.
Rodolfo remembers telling his father,
Your son is going to dance the
canyengue Dad.
RODOLFO: That year in London we
presented the canyengue for the first
time at Paul and Michiko's Cafetin
Porteño. People went crazy. This
Saturday night we are going to dance it
for you and Valorie at your milonga.
Maria is going to wear the same vintage
dress as in London. Pity that I did not
bring my vest and my lengue.
ALBERTO: You can use mine.
RODOLFO: Great! We're going to do
the canyengue. We're going to do it.
He was now the only one left in his
family and he seemed to wait for his
time with resignation, whenever it
would arrive. Did he know already
about the illness that would take him
away four years later? I'll never know.
Like the passing of my parents,
Rodolfo's departure feels like he just
moved farther away.
We're reliving the fond memories
now as we have finally sat down to
watch the videotapes of those great
classes in our living room, along with
their compelling performances at the
Dance Spectrum in Campbell. Maria
singing La ultima curda. The two of
them dancing canyengue to El
chamuyo. The delight of the audience as
they tackled a D'Arienzo piece with
their unique brand of Tango.
This article is based on a taped conversation with Rodolfo and Maria Cieri at our former home in Sunnyvale,
CA on June 21, 1996. Copyright (c) Planet Tango 2000, All rights Reserved
December 2000
El Firulete
A Tango Fable
Waiting For The Deejay
Many dance communities are young. The dancers need to be
schooled to learn and identify music. Repeated playing of the
classic orchestras is tantamount for this process.
By Valorie Hart
irst cool autumn nights. Delicious
shivers, cold snap in the air.
Darkness falling early, so that the
early starting hour of the milonga
seems less peculiar. At least it wasn’t
still light out, making the wearing of
Tango garb seem vampirish.
The music played on and on. They
knew what tanda they wanted for each
other. They marked time by polite
dancing with others. Sitting out more
than dancing, sipping cocktails, waiting
for just that right set of music. But the
night is short. This is not Buenos Aires.
This is a “school night” in a place with a
strong “early to bed, early to rise” work
ethic. Finally desperate and exasperated, they allowed their eyes to meet,
she to invite, he to accept.
If I never hear a Tango played with a
tuba or a harmonica again I’d be a happy
man. She smiles and agrees. They had
been waiting for a vals tanda all night.
But an unlucky draw had them trying to
eke out something musical and meaningful to the sounds of the oldest creaky
recordings complete with Minnie Mouse
vocals. Each knew how well they
connected and danced with each other.
Each knew the importance of the perfect
ingredients of the menage a trois del
armed with Tango catalogues or the rack
at Tower Records is shooting fish in a
Some deejays have the idea that by
playing the more unusual music, the
more he/she is showcasing their vast
collection and hence knowledge of the
obscure and esoteric. They think they
are cool, if they own and subsequently
spin something that no one has ever
heard of.
The idea of the tanda is becoming
more accepted at the local milonga.
This is a good thing. Still most DJs have
no idea how to assemble a set of music,
or how to string the sets of music
together. The result is a hodge podge
that never creates and builds the dancers’ energy and experience for a satisfying night.
The restaurant lit from within, all
rosy and cozy. The first sounds of Tango
music sending another set of particular
shivers, delicious again, full of anticipation of promise.
Even for the out-of-town visitor, this
place like others around the country, felt
familiar. It was a place where everybody
knows your name, that name being
Tango. Elegant dresses and high heels.
Dapper black shirts and trousers punctuated by well fitted suit jackets. Polished
wood floor with gleaming reflections of
soft light. Glasses clinking, soft conversation, eyes everywhere searching.
"Waiting Melody"
Photo by Julio Canosa
tango: man, woman, music. Each went
away that night with less than perfection.
There was the consolation prize of
friendship and commiseration. Tonight
they were robbed by the DJ. No big deal
when there is a nightly or even a weekly
milonga. We all pray and hope to
dance another night. But here, the
milonga is monthly. Adding insult to
injury - she’s just passing through town,
and it would be months before they met
As I write this fable, our mail box
contains CDs and tapes of proud aficionados turned DJs. A natural and necessary occurrence in every community,
when a dancer is hyper excited by the
music and begins collecting CDs.
Usually the one with the most CDs
segues into becoming the DJ at the local
milonga. This in itself seems a good
thing. Someone has to spin the music.
However a little knowledge can
once again be disappointing. There are
thousands of recordings. Only a handful
are really great for dancing, more like
the top one hundred. But the aficionado
Proud fledglings send us their
efforts looking for affirmation that they
are doing good work at the mixing
console. Of course every DJ spinning
does so out of a subjective base. However certain ABC’s apply.
Tandas are grouped by orchestra, or
by orchestras playing in the same
fashion. Buenos Aires veteran DJ Felix
Pircherna calls this, playing in the same
line. Tandas are strung together with the
idea of telling a story. The night is
structured with beginning, development,
crescendo and epilogue. One simply
doesn’t play fast music, followed by
slow music (or vice versa). A jarring
effect of this might be a big Pugliese set
followed by a fast tempo milonga set.
At what time of the night you play a
particular orchestra is also a factor.
Certain orchestras warm up the crowd;
others take it higher; still others calm it
down. Some orchestras and selections
can kill the dance party right in its
The obscure, antique and esoteric
should be left at home. Shaping the
selections should be based on standards.
Think of the Big Band Era in the USA,
similar to the Golden Age of Tango in
Argentina (which coincided on the
same time line). Carlos Di Sarli,
Osvaldo Pugliese, Anibal Troilo,
Miguel Calo, Ricardo Tanturi, Juan
D’Arienzo, Francisco Canaro, Rodolfo
Biagi, Angel D’Agostino, Alfredo De
Angelis - these are comparable to Glen
Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw,
Gene Krupa, Guy Lombardo, Duke
Ellington, etc. There is a reason that the
top one hundred are played again and
again. People come to the milonga to
dance, and these recordings were
created for that purpose.
Many dance communities are
young. The dancers need to be schooled
to learn and identify music. Repeated
playing of the classic orchestras is
tantamount for this process. People have
to learn to know the difference between
a Milonga, a Tango and a Vals. People
have to learn which orchestra is being
played (and subsequently how to dance
to it). Most do not have extensive
collections of music, and get their
extended dose of Tango music at
milongas and classes.
El Firulete
disco or ballroom or Latin. Think about
what made it great. The answer is the
music. Great DJ or great band. When
you come home from a “bad” night, the
comment usually follows that the music
To school themselves as DJs, people
need to listen and use some of the dance
music that is already pre-mixed. Many
compilations are being carried back
from Buenos Aires. So if you are going,
or you know someone who is going,
make it a point to buy these CDs or
tapes (usually available at the milonga
offered for sale by the DJ’s). If you
know a DJ here that you like, ask for a
mix. All of these mixes share the same
premises as discussed above. They get
the dancers on the floor and keep them
there. Gradually you’ll hear common
themes and will be able to make your
own successful mix for dancing.
Don’t be fooled if developing
dancers in your community dance to
Veteran communities become
whatever you play. Remember they have
cohesive and well oiled dancing malimited choice and are desperate to
chines when the group at large responds dance, and also that their knowledge of
to the music. They know the music.
music is scant. But take a look around at
They love the music. They know how to who might be sitting your sets out. It
dance and interpret the music. This
might be the more experienced. It is true
happens within the duet, while in
that mixing music is a subjective art that
tandem with the whole group and a good cannot possibly please everyone.
DJ. It is simply exhilarating and totally
However, you should aim for 95% of the
dancers being on the floor, allowing the
other 5% time for trips to the rest room,
Many of us have experienced great
the bar or for taking a breather.
nights out dancing. It might have been
Osvaldo Pugliese music can be identified in three distinctive periods and
three totally different styles. His first recording was Farol, and it took place
July 15, 1943. The sound of the 1940's orchestra can be typified by
Recuerdo, Mala junta, Tierra querida and El arranque.
The sound of the orchestra during the fifties can be sampled in Chique,
La rayuela, Emancipacion and Nochero soy.
Finally, in the sixties and seventies, Pugliese recorded perhaps the finest
and most memorable tangos of which we consider to be his legacy to the
Tango Hall of Fame. Listen to Que noche, La biandunga, A Evaristo
Carriego, and Nobleza de arrabal among many others.
Juan D'Arienzo also went through three distinctive stages punctuated by
the men who sat at the piano: Rodolfo Biagi, Juan Polito and Fulvio
Carlos Di Sarli's sound didn't change much, but the quality and sonority
of his arrangements have two major periods, before and after 1950.
December 2000
A Music Primer
When it comes to approaching the
way a Tango party develops, the ideal
situation is to go with the "Big Bands"
and the "Hit Parade."
A typical CD will run on the average for about an hour. On the average
there are 20 selections on a CD. Take
Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese,
Anibal Troilo, Juan D’Arienzo,
Francisco Canaro, Ricardo Tanturi,
Miguel Calo, Alfredo de Angelis,
Rodolfo Biagi, Osvaldo Fresedo.
Next, consider that Di Sarli,
Pugliese and D’Arienzo have two and
even three distinctive periods, then you
have about fifteen orchestras to chose
from. If you were to just take four of
their hits, you come out with sixty
themes enough to fill three CDs, about
three hours of the greatest Tango
music form the Golden Era. This
should be enough music to cover 95%
of the so-called milongas in the USA.
There are only a handful of milongas
that last longer than three hours.
Each one of the fifteen orchestras
have more than four hits to pick from,
at least a dozen are classics, so that
gives you nine CDs, about nine hours
of uninterrupted dancing to the classics. You can go through three
"milongas" without ever repreating a
theme. Randomly alter the sequence in
which you play the orchestras, or CDs,
if you are smart enough to make or get
pre-mixed CDs, and it would take a
year or two before the dancing community is totally familiar with the music,
the rhythms and the orchestras. By
then one hopes that they have also
learned how to dance to them.
That’s how I approach all dances,
either as a host or as an invited DJ. I
carry about nine such CDs which I
have mixed, fortunate as I am to have
an extensive library and an educated
knowledge of the music and the way it
is danced. I wonder sometimes why
friends don't take advantage of a
wealth of experience and knowledge
that is available to them just for the
December 2000
El Firulete
African derived rhythm that has been an
important part of Uruguayan culture for
over two hundred years. Uruguay, with
a population of approximately 3.2
million, is a small country located in
The Tango developed simultaneously in Montevideo and Buenos South America, bordered by its two
massive neighbors, Brazil (162 million)
Aires. Although typically regarded as the creation of Italian and
to the East, and Argentina (34 million)
Spanish immigrants, the Tango’s music and the dance moveto the West. This rhythm traveled to
ments associated with it were deeply influenced by African
Uruguay from Africa with black
dance and music.
slaves, and is still going strong in the
Text and photos courtesy of www.candombe.com
streets, halls and carnivals of this small
enchanting country.
Special Feature
Of Candombe and Tambores
To understand how this rhythm,
which is so strongly rooted in Uruguayan culture evolved, one would
need to turn back the pages of African
and South American history to look at
how this contagious rhythm anchored at
the shores of Montevideo. The text that
follows are excerpts from books and
articles written about candombe, as well
as the viewpoint of individuals who
have been close to this scene. The entire
material and photos of this article are
reproduced by courtesy of
rgentina’s black population all
but disappeared, decimated in
the 1800s by yellow fever,
intermarriage and massive military
recruitment of blacks, who then died in
wars. Across the River Plate, in Uruguay, people of African descent
accounted for about half the population
two centuries ago; they now number
about 189,000 in a nation of 3.2 million.
After independence was declared in
1825, civil wars disrupted the republic
for almost seventeen years. Military
rule muzzled Uruguay from 1973 until
democracy was restored in 1985, when
many refugees came home. About
ninety percent of Uruguayans - most of
Spanish or Italian descent - live in
cities, with Montevideo home to twofifths. Education is compulsory and
free, one of Latin America’s most
On Sunday nights, the drummers of
Barrio Sur assemble by firelight at an
intersection in the historic black neighborhood in a tranquil corner of South
America. Flames dance in a gutter
bonfire lighted to tone the hides of the
drums. Rows of drummers pound down
the street in a blur of muscle, sweat and
sound, filling the night with an Africanderived rhythm known as candombe.
Candombe (can-dome-bey) is an
Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, was founded by the Spanish in a
process that was begun in 1724 and
completed in 1730. African slaves were
first introduced to the city in 1750. The
roots of this population were not homogeneous, but rather a multi-ethnic swath
of Africa that was culturally quite
varied. seventy one percent were
sourced from the Bantu area, from
Eastern and Equatorial Africa, while
the rest came from non-Bantu Western
Africa: Guinea, Senegal, Gambia,
El Firulete
musical spirit sums up the sorrows of
the unfortunate slaves, who were hastily
transplanted to South America to be
sold and subjected to brutal work. These
were pained souls, harboring an inconsolable nostalgia for their homeland.
During colonial times, the newly
arrived Africans called their drums
tangó, and used this term to refer to the
place where they gathered to perform
their candombe dances; by extension,
the dances themselves were also called
tangós. With the word tangó, they
defined the place, the instrument, and
the dance of the blacks.
At the dawn of the 19th Century,
The Tambor of candombe is the
presence of ancestral Africa in Uruguay.
From this period of original celebrations in Uruguay, only the musical
gathering is retained today, and find
their principal manifestation in the
llamadas of Barrio Sur and Palermo. In
Sierra Leone, and the Gold Coast
(what is today Ghana).
The Bantu area is an enormous
cultural region of Africa with an
extremely complex mosaic of
ethnicities, consisting of over 450
groups with a linguistic heritage that
overwhelms man’s migratory limits:
more than twenty linguistic groups and
seventy dialects.
Candombe is what survives of the
ancestral heritage of Bantu roots,
brought by the blacks arriving at the Río
de la Plata. The term is generic for all
black dances: synonymous with and
evoking the rituals of that race. Its
It was the voice of the old “tatas” of
candombe from the middle of the 19th
century, bellowing in the halls of black
clandestine gatherings, sons and grandsons of those brought over in the holds
of the slave ships. From 1751 to 1810,
Montevideo received large contingents
of Africans aboard vessels flying
English and Spanish flags. While their
culture was quickly repressed by the
Spanish, their need for expression, their
liberation, was maintained through their
The houses where the slaves gathered, with their masters’ permission,
were off-limits to the general public in
Montevideo of old. These were called
tangós, and within their walls the slaves
celebrated their festivities and ceremonies to the sound of the Tambor.
Tambor Piano
It is believed that no less than ten
million “ebony pieces” disembarked on
the coasts of North and South
America. This implies a bleeding of
sixty million souls, if we consider that
only one of every six victims of this
human traffic ever made it alive to the
harbors where they were to be auctioned. To understand what this meant,
in demographic terms, it is sufficient to
consider that at the beginning of the
19th Century, Buenos Aires had a
population of merely fifty thousand.
December 2000
Tambor Chico
Montevideo’s Establishment was
deeply troubled by the existence of the
candombes, which they indistinctly
called tambo or tangó. They banned
them and harshly punished their participants, considering the dances a threat to
public morals. In 1808 the citizens of
Montevideo requested that the governor
repress these dances even more severely
and “prohibit the tangós of the blacks.”
In Africa, Tambor and the person
playing it are defined by the same word,
Tambor Repique
December 2000
El Firulete
lowest in pitch of the three drums,
holding the rhythmic base of candombe.
Its rhythmic function is similar to the
upright or electric bass. Its drumhead
measures approximately sixteen inches
in diameter.
The chico (small) name given
because of its size and thinner drumhead, the highest in pitch of the three
drums, and the rhythmic pendulum of
the cuerda. Its drumhead measures
approximately eight-and-one-half inches
in diameter.
An old candombe photo. At the dawn of the 19th Century, Montevideo's
Establishment was deeply troubled by the existence of the candombes,
which they indistinctly called tambo or tangó.
the sounds of the piano, the chico and
the repique, the slaves have been able to
preserve their ancestral memory.
Impassioned by the rhythm, with a
fleeting and naive joy, the dance is the
reward for their tasks in the stables, for
the jobs as porters that leave their agile
bodies bent.
On the 28th of October, 1846, the
president of the Republic, Joaquin
Suarez, abolished slavery in Uruguay,
in a process that began in 1825.
Uruguay abolished slavery, documents described African dance rituals
in Montevideo and the countryside
known as tangós, with the accent on the
second syllable. The word referred
variously to the drums, the dances and
the places where the religious rituals
were held. Therein lies an intriguing
musicological tale about the obscure
origins of the tango, one of the bestknown Latin American musical genres.
many. So that there may be greater
glories in the land, glories must be
forgotten. The memory of them is
almost an act of remorse, the reproach
of things abandoned without the intercession of a goodbye. It is a memory
which is rescued, as the Creole destiny
requires, for the gallantry and perfection
of its sacrifice.
The candombe rhythm is created
by the use of three drums (tambores),
tambor piano, tambor chico and
tambor repique. When these three
drums heat up, it’s like nothing you’ve
ever heard before.
The piano is the largest in size, and
The repique's (ricochet) name tells
us this drum embellishes candombe's
rhythm with improvised phrases. Its
drumhead measures approximately
twelve inches in diameter.
Together these three tambores
create candombe. Together these three
drums are called a Cuerda. Cuerda is
the name given to the family of the three
different drums (tambores) consisting of
the tambor piano, tambor chico and
tambor repique. At a minimum, a
cuerda consists of three people, each
playing one of the three tambores,
however it can also consist of more
people, as long as each of the three
tambores are being played. Each
tambor is played by one person. It is
hung from the shoulder, struck with one
hand, and by a stick in the other. On
occasion there are as many as one
hundred drummers playing Candombe
in the street.
The street-corner ritual is part of a
neglected chapter of the African
diaspora. The drums tell a story of the
profound impact that African culture
has had in Uruguay and elsewhere in
Latin America. In fact, Afro-Uruguayans celebrate an often-ignored piece of
The Creole, who once formed the
whole nation, now prefers to be one of
A typical candombe cuerda
El Firulete
December 2000
Dance every Friday at The Original Pierre Maspero's Tango Room,
440 Chartres at St. Louis. Complimentary lesson and great Argentine
Tango dancing with hosts Alberto and Valorie. Doors open at 9 PM
and they close when the last dancer had enough.
Planet Tango is pleased to invite you to celebrate the
New Year the Tango Way, at The Original Pierre
Maspero's, 440 Chartres at St. Louis in the French
Quarter. For reservations call, 504.592.8256
New Orleans' Orchestra Milonga
Santa sez,
Naughty or not, I want to see you
dancing at Pierre Maspero's on
the night of December 22.
Yes, that's the Friday night Planet
Tango Christmas Party.
Wear red, wear green, I'll know if
you've been good (or not...).
Tango Tuesdays at Le chat noir, 725 St. Charles Ave.
December 2000
El Firulete
Pugliese’s labor straddled over
four decades of uninterrupted
creativity. There is a period of time
when his arrangements exceeded
normal human expectations. This
collection of old and new classics
fall under what we call “Vintage
Pugliese,” the legacy of the greatest artistic mind the Argentine
Tango ever produced bar none.
A collection of the best tangos and
valses authored by Francisco
Canaro, as they were recorded by
Francisco Canaro's successful
orchestras such as the memorable
Quinteto Pirincho and Quinteto
Don Pancho.
Available for educational purposes and personal enjoyment
only from Planet Tango.
Each CD is $15 which includes
First Class postal delivery.
Send your check to,
Planet Tango
1000 Bourbon St., #202
New Orleans, LA 70116
January 12 & 13, 2001 - 8:00 PM
The Orpheum Theatre
Phoenix, Arizona
El Firulete
Chapter 21
Copyright (c) 2000 Planet Tango
All About Eva
The biblical story seems to indicate
that Eva got to take the rap for turning
Paradise into a living hell for the
Creator's ultimate creation, Da Man.
Looks like the First Guy leisurely
enjoyed the pleasantries of an ideal
world created just for him and the fruit
of his ribs, with only one caveat to be
aware of (actually two, stay away from
the Forbidden Tree and don't dance to
Piazzolla). One day, the First Gal was
hanging around the garden followed by
a snake who kept telling her, an apple a
day keeps the doctor away. Eventually
Eva succumbed to the temptation and
took a bite from the fruit of the Forbidden Tree and sweet talked Da Man into
doing the same.
And so the story goes that they got
thrown out of Paradise condemned to
pay for their sin with the sweat of their
foreheads. Da Man now had to work
and be a provider. Eva stayed home
barefoot and bearing children. This
inequality and injustice prevailed
throughout the centuries, until the
roaring of fed up females sick of being
called follows decided to do something
about it. It takes two to Tango, you
know, was their battle cry. Although we
are still living in an imperfect world,
when it comes to Tango, the roles of
men and women have become less
stereotypical, and progress towards
equality continues at a steady pace.
December 2000
blueprint for the codes and protocols
associated with the social appeal of
Argentine Tango dancing. During a
period that roughly begun in the mid
1930's and lasted into the early 1950's,
the relaxation of social constraints
allowed men and women to socialize
publicly at social clubs, night clubs and
just about every other place where
Tango dancing took place.
Many marriages resulted from the
romances started on the dance floor
because for as long as we can remember,
the main purpose of going to the
milonga was for boys to meet girls and
vice versa. To be able to dance Tango
well was a given, and the codes of
conduct at the milongas were strictly
adhered to by those who wanted to
succeed. The entire body of activities,
social interaction and behavior at the
milongas of Buenos Aires fall under
what we would like to call the tradition,
myths and legends of Argentine Tango
dancing. For most Argentinos this is
part of their idiosyncrasy and most truly
believe what George Dumesnil said on
the subject: A country that no longer has
legends, as the poet said, is condemned
to freeze to death. It is quite possible.
But, people without myths would
already be dead.
Lead Thyself Not Into Temptation
Countless numbers of women have
spent lots of time walking around a
chair. That's how you learn your
molinetes, they have been tempted to
believe. The more they walked around
the chairs, the more they kept pulling
their partners off balance while they did
their molinetes.
For many, the Tango has become a
metaphor for higher levels of men/
women relationships. Long gone are the
days of the early 1900's, when tough
men killed each other to gain the favors
of mischievous women, who without
missing a beat would turn away from the
More and more women are realizing
bloody bodies laying outside the bar to
that men don't have four legs like chairs.
focus their attention on those inside
They are also learning that there is no
eager to be the next ones to go out and
such thing as molinete steps. They are
beginning to acknowledge that they are
The Roaring Twenties imported
dancing with men, not leads. They are
from the Parisian halls an air of sophis- beginning to assume responsibility for
tication and the elegant Buenos Aires
their balance so they can tell when the
cabarets where musicians had to dress
men they are dancing with stop, but
up in tails. Class warfare was responkeep them walking around them. They
sible for so many broken hearts and so
realize that going around the man makes
many great Tango lyrics. However, the
their hips move their legs in a predictGolden Era of Tango provided the
December 2000
El Firulete
able and repetitive sequence, forward, to
the side and back.
Many women have spent lots of
time leaning against a wall while
practicing their ochos. Knees bent and
pressed hard against each other. Ankles
locked into each other. Collect, collect,
said the voices of temptation.
The more they practiced, the more
they fell off their ochos regardless of
how hard they leaned against their
partners. More and more women are
now realizing that men are not walls to
lean onto and that there are no steps
called ochos.
They are learning that an ocho, is an
invisible pattern resembling the number
eight drawn on the floor by their feet. It
results from a motion created by their
partners that asked them to step forward
with one leg, pivot on that leg maintaining balance, and step forward again with
the other leg back to where they came
Their awareness of the men they
are dancing with affords them plenty of
time to realize that they are not walking
along with them on a straight line.
Rather, the men are either stationary or
moving in such a way to create the
pivoting necessary for the changes of
direction after each forward step.
turn, make them heavy, throws them off
balance and renders their legs unable to
respond to the natural flow of the dance
required to carry their bodies wherever
the men are taking them.
Many women have lined up behind
another woman, who repeated numerous
times a sequence of steps asking them to
imitate her and memorize the steps.
They have then proceeded to demand
that men lead them to recreate the steps.
They have been heard calling each step
for the tentative leads who went along
with the game.
simple and humble men and women
who considered learning their roles a
very important stage leading to the
mutual enjoyment of the dance.
In Tango We Trust
Many Tango communities are
graced by the charming presence of
women who manage to feel good and
look the best in the realm of the embrace, knowing where they are at all
times with relation to the men they are
dancing with. They are the women who
good dancers enjoy dancing with.
More and more women are now
realizing that real and skilled men don't
lead. They dance with a woman in their
They know that they only need to
recognize which one of only three
fundamental moves will make their
bodies reach another space on the dance
More and more women are giving
up memorizing steps and the unnerving
anxiety that results from wanting to be
good follows. They are assuming the
responsibility for their posture and their
balance. They are willing to put into the
learning process as much effort as they
want to get out in terms of satisfaction.
They connect to their partners,
friends, lovers, or total strangers, as
these men navigate. They dance elegantly with their bodies fully connected to their partners, letting their legs
be free to move forward, back, or to
either side providing comfortable
support for their bodies.
They know that there is a logical
aspect of the learning process that
addresses specifically the techniques
that allow them to be empowered to be a
full fledged partner. They seek those
who are qualified to impart that important wealth of knowledge.
Albeit, they overwhelmingly and
silently outnumber the vocal few who
laugh at the traditions of Argentine
Tango by claiming that in this country
people have a different approach. The
ones who impose themselves on any
man to fulfill a quota on their selfcentered agendas, trading cheap easy
dances for cheap, easy frills for perverts
disguised as milongueros.
They know that bending and pressing their knees together, locking their
After all, Tango dancing has always
ankles against each other and forcing the been done in wondrous ways in the cityhip of the trailing leg to make the body
country we call Buenos Aires by very
Alberto and Valorie
El Firulete
The Argentine Tango Magazine
A suscription for yourself or a gift to a friend
12 issues for $30 in the USA, $40 in Canada, $50 international
Send check or money order to:
Planet Tango
1000 Bourbon St., #202
New Orleans, LA 70116
El Firulete
Planet Tango
Your complete connection to the world of Argentine Tango
Private, semiprivate and group lessons.
Exhibitions and performances.
Lectures and conferences.
Publishers of El Firulete
Weekly milonga and monthly workshops in New Orleans
Monthly workshops around the country
Open dates still available for 2001
On line, http://www.planet-tango.com
Planet Tango
1000 Bourbon St., #202 - New Orleans, LA 70116
Contact us at 504.592.8256, or write to,
[email protected]
Planet Tango
1000 Bourbon St., #202
New Orleans, LA 70116
This is a copy for you with our compliments
with our invitation to subscribe and join the
hundreds of readers who enjoy El Firulete
every month around the world.
December 2000