The Boarder’s Balls (Bailes del Internado) and The Medical Tangos
n the permanent interrelationship of tango with daily events, issues so human like diseases, remedies, physicians, hospitals could not be absent and, talking about the music of the young of the period, the students’ parties either.
In the early days of the twentieth century the students of all colleges organized big parties on the first day of spring.
Among them the ones most deeply devoted to tango were organized by the students of the school of medicine: the Bailes del Internado. The name pointed to its most fervent promoters: the most advanced pupils, the interns, those we today commonly call hospital interns.
Interns, according to doctor Luis Alposta’s definition, were those who had been appointed for a task after a scrupulous selection among hundreds of students. Their labor consisted of a free service, first, vaccinating and working in laboratories and, after a year and several months, seeing patients in the hospital consulting rooms.
In his book El lunfardo y el tango en la medicina, Alposta, talks about the intern and highlights: «The life in the hospital was polishing the future physician. He was learning what he could not find reading books: the sense of responsibility in the daily contact with diseased persons. The student was growing accustomed to the ethic rules of the relationship with patients and colleagues.»
«It was there where he learned to know human miseries and to live with them by having lessons of experience that he would never forget.»
The description that Canaro presents of the boarder’s balls in his memoirs is interesting: «During those balls the hospital interns vied with one another for playing the most grotesque hair-raising jokes that we could hardly imagine. There were cases in which they severed the hands of corpses kept in the morgue and later, disguising with white sheets like ghosts and using sticks to simulate arms, they tied those stiff cold hands to them and touched the women’s faces producing the effect they were expecting for. Another pathetic case was commented and became famous: on a stick, with two sheets as a disguise, they put the head of an Italian dead man. It was a joke too macabre; the frightened women ran in all directions scared to death.»
The first Baile del Internado was held at the Palais de Glace, on September 21, 1914 and the following years at the Pabellón de las Rosas which was located on Alvear Avenue and Tagle. The last of these celebrations was organized in 1924 at the Teatro Victoria the same day that Fresedo premiered his famous tango “El once”.
There are many tangos which, one way or the other, were inspired on those parties, or that were composed to be premiered in them, or that in their titles, dedication, or, in a few cases, in their lyrics medicine is present. We shall mention some titles:
“El matasano”, by Francisco Canaro, dedicated to the interns of the Hospital Durand to celebrate the first Gran Baile del Internado in 1914.
“Clínicas”, by Alberto López Buchardo, dedicated to the hospital interns of the Hospital de Clínicas.
“El piñerista”, by Prudencio Aragón, dedicated to the hospital interns of the Hospital Parmenio Piñeiro.
“El apronte”, by Roberto Firpo, dedicated to the interns of the Hospital San Roque (now Ramos Mejía), as well to celebrate the first Baile del Internado in 1914.
“El cirujano”, by Adolfo Pérez “Pocholo”, dedicated to the surgeon Adolfo Sangiovanni.
“El practicante”, by Antonio De Bassi, with lyrics by Antonio Botta.
“Rawson”, by Eduardo Arolas, dedicated to doctors Pedro Sauré, Juan Carlos Aramburu and Cleto Santa Coloma.
“Anatomía”, by the same composer, dedicated to doctors Ricardo Rodríguez Villegas and Moisés Benchetrit.
“El anatomista”, by Vicente Greco, dedicated to hospital interns of the Hospitals of the Capital, because of the 3rd Baile del Internado, September 21, 1916.
“El internado”, by Francisco Canaro dedicated to the Asociación del Internado and its chairman Dr. Adolfo Rébora in 1915.
“El bisturí”, by Roberto Firpo, dedicated to surgeon Roque F. Coulin.
“Mano de oro”, by Eduardo Pereyra, dedicated to hospital interns of the Hospital Clínicas of Córdoba, in 1920.
“Paraiso artificial”, by Rafael and J. Tuegols with lyrics by Francisco García Jiménez, whose lyrics talks about drugs and is dedicated to doctor Héctor de Kemmeter.
“El 6°... Baile del Internado”, by Osvaldo Fresedo, dedicated to all the interns to commemorate the sixth ball, September 21, 1919.
“El 7°... Gran Baile del Internado”, by Augusto Berto, dedicated to the Asociación del Internado because of the party held in 1920.
Ricardo Luis Brignolo consecutively composed, the tangos of the three next balls: “El octavo” (The Eighth), “El 9°... Gran Baile del Internado” and “El décimo” (The Tenth).
“Cura segura”, by Juan de Dios Filiberto, dedicated to several friends.
“Ojo clínico”, by Guido Vanzina Pacheco, dedicated to doctor Enrique Feinmann.
“El serrucho”, by Luis Teisseire, dedicated to doctor Juan B. Borla, in 1923.
“El termómetro”, by José Martínez, dedicated to doctors Luis Galdeano, Amadeo Carelli and Antonio M. González, in 1917.
“Aquí se vacuna”, by Juan Lorenzo Labissier, dedicated to doctors Gregorio Hunt and Fernando Álvarez.
“Cloroformo”, by Udelino Toranzo, dedicated to Dr.Rogelio O. Lahitte.
“El loco”, by María Celina Piazza, dedicated to her father Romeo Piazza.
“El estagiario”, by Martín Lasala Álvarez. It refers to an advanced student of medicine, commonly called hospital intern.
“Locura”, by A.Guerama and lyrics by A.Caro.
“La muela careada”, by Vicente Greco, dedicated to Agustín Bardi in 1916.
“El frenopático”, by Osvaldo Pugliese, dedicated to his aunt Concepción Pugliese.
“El once (A divertirse)”, by Osvaldo Fresedo and lyrics by his brother Emilio, as homage to the last Baile del Internado in 1924.
There are many more numbers, even some more modern, which we have omitted because of space.