El Negro Lavandina

Real name: Luján, Félix
Nicknames: Cacho Lavandina
(n/d - n/d)
Place of birth:
Gustavo Benzecry Sabá

his gentleman started in the mid 1930's, when Juan D'Arienzo had everyone dancing to a forceful rhythm. He was a bricklayer, his skin was deeply tanned, and he loved the tango like everyone of his generation. Because he bleached the walls before painting them, he earned the nickname El Negro Lavandina (lavandina means bleach).

He was a student of Petróleo (Carlos Estévez) and used to practice in the memorable Club Nelson, wellspring of many great dancers. In around '37 or '38, while doing his regular work, he looked up. He saw a basket spinning as it hung on a rope, and he thought maybe people could turn like that while dancing tango.

A bit later he showed his teacher Petróleo the idea, and together they developed both simple and complex turns (these are the giros, where the follower dances a grapevine pattern around the leader).

For his talent, the kids nicknamed him The Impossible Dancer, and for his identification with the neighborhood, Petróleo honored him with Monte Castro. He never gave classes, but according to Lampazo (José Vázquez): «El Negro Lavandina was the equal of any maestro».

In time some people called him Salvador Sciana and Cacho Lavandina; however, his real name was Félix Luján, a simple name for a simple man, but above all a dancer exceptional not only for his dexterity, but also because he was one of those who together with feeling and dancing the tango, knew that one also has to think the tango.

The author is instructor, dancer and researcher of tango dance. He is author of the Nuevo glosario de tango danza, La pista del abrazo and Tango FAQs. www.tangosalon.com.ar / info@tangosalon.com.ar