Ricardo García Blaya
| Bruno Cespi

Brothel tango tunes

ery often we read that some writers, some of them just arrived at the tango field, label a series of old tango pieces as “brothel” music whose original sheet music was for piano and with no lyrics, save for some rare exception.

Because of that, the only reason of this label comes exclusively from the titles of those tangos since they had no lyrics. Furthermore, those titles had also been given to polkas, mazurkas, zarzuela music and other rhythms prior to tango.

Then, the only reason for the labeling comes from the title, generally with double entendre or with picaresque allusions or referred to parts of the human body or the use of vulgar words or indirectly referred to copulation. Now it’s no longer tango and its music and even less its absent lyric, it’s only the name of the piece, the procacious title.

All this would be of little importance had it not been that those same writers hide, under that labeling, an axiological pretension that intents to demonstrate that the origins of tango are in the brothels.

We all agree that tango was not born in a “gold cradle”. But to say then that it is a musical product that sprung up in whorehouses seems to us imprudent, absolutely mistaken and even with an ideological “smell”.

How could a learned, refined writer from Buenos Aires - the Paris of South America - accept that music born in the poor suburbs, among gauchos and peasants, among bullies and immigrants, a menace to social decorum, banned and sinful, without exorcising it?

It was necessary to give a picturesque and audacious explanation that would justify its later acceptance, but that at the same time would clear out that that music from the outskirts became socially good only after its return from Europe. Nonsense.

Especially now that tango is in vogue worldwide and with such prestige that it became elegant music in Europe and the United States. It happened what was foreseeable, "brainy" writers appeared, exegetes of Borges and Sabato, to explain to us what is and what was tango. They represent a gallery of the most daring snobbery, with publications full of errors that repeat the inexactitudes invented in the past, without making the effort to study and even less to research with a method a little bit serious. Conclusion: tango is in vogue, it sells, so we have to write about it.

In order to be brief, I suggest the reading of the excellent book written by Hugo Lamas and Enrique Binda: “El tango en la sociedad porteña, 1880-1920” and to see the chronicle “Reflexiones sobre los orígenes del tango” that is in this same section.

There are a large number of procacious titles that match this pseudo classification. The ones I mention below are some of them:

Title (Composer)
“Tocámelo que me gusta” (Prudencio Muñoz)
Metele bomba al Primus” (José Arturo Severino)
“Se te paró el motor” (Rómulo Pane)
“Dejalo morir adentro” (José Di Clemente)
“El movimiento continuo” (Oscar Barabino)
Afeitate el 7 que el 8 es fiesta” (Antonio Lagomarsino)
“Viejo encendé el calentador” (J. L. Bandami)
“El matambre” (J. B. Massa)
“Tocalo que me gusta” (Alberto Mazzoni)
“Date vuelta” (Emilio Sassenus)
Empujá que se va a abrir” (Vicente La Salvia)
Tocame la Carolina” (Bernardino Terés)
“Lavalle y Ombú” (Héctor G. Ventramile)
La c...ara de la l...una” (Manuel Campoamor)
Papas calientes” (Eduardo Arolas)
“Pan dulce” (Oscar J. Rossi)
“Tomame el pulso” (Pedro Festa)
“De quién es eso” (Ernesto Ponzio)
El tercero” (A. L. Fistolera Mallié)
“El fierrazo” (Carlos Hernani Macchi)
“Tocalo más fuerte” (Pancho Nicolín)
Qué polvo con tanto viento” (Pedro Quijano)
“Hacele el rulo a la vieja” (Ernesto Zoboli)
Sacudime la persiana” (Vicente Loduca)
“Al palo” (Eduardo Bolter Bulterini)
“Dos sin sacar” (¿?)
“Va Celina en punta” (¿?)