Bernabé Simarra

Real name: Cimarra, Tomás Bernabé
Nicknames: El Negro, El Rey del Tango
(18 September 1881 - n/d)
Place of birth:
Buenos Aires Argentina
Néstor Pinsón

his forgotten dancer whose personal information is very hard to find, started his career when in 1909 he won a contest for dancers held during the carnival seasons in the city of Buenos Aires.

Afterwards he achieved other fist awards at competitions organized by the theaters Casino and Politeama.

Since then his name is heard on both margins of the River Plate, and in Montevideo he also won a contest at the Royal Theatre.

His beginning fame either as dancer or as teacher drove Miss Papillón —a renowned French varieté artist who had learnt with Simarra to dance tango— to hire him, in 1911, to accompany her to Paris.

His extraordinary choreographic quality and his picturesque gaucho costume made him be known as El Rey del Tango. Simarra appeared with creole folk clothes, carrying a facón (large knife), chiripá (gaucho's dress trousers) and spurs.

He renewed his degrees of winner at the contests for professionals in the theaters Femina, in 1912 and Folie Magic in 1913, both in Paris. His dancing partner was then the Cuban Ideal Gloria, the tango dancer of greatest international fame.

Some time later Simarra moved from Paris to the exclusive seaside resort Lido, in Venice, Italy. There he was hired as instructor at the aristocratic Excelsior hotel.

In the early 20s he traveled to Barcelona where he put up a dancing parlor, with the purpose of teaching tango to the Catalonian high society.

Later, this specialist in winning dancing competitions got the first prize at the festival for dancers organized by the Principal Palace theater.

In the year 1936 the Spanish civil war broke out and Simarra had to suddenly leave Spain, leaving all his properties behind. He traveled to Montevideo, where he settled and died in the poorest condition.

Except for this brief biographical sketch we managed to rescue from commentaries published at the magazine Fray Mocho from 28 March 1913 and some other sources of the period, we ignore nearly everything about this outstanding dancer. In the aforementioned magazine there is a picture where Simarra is dancing with his partner Ideal Gloria, and below we can read: «Simarra has the role of teacher at one of the most famous Parisian academies, the one led by M. Camilo de Rhynal, for his performances he displays a curious theatrical gaucho outfit».