José Pedro Aresi

The Glostora Tango Club

hear Enrique Campos’ voice that repeats «Buenos Aires of the forties should they allow you to return...» and then spring up memories that are pieces of a past on neighborhood sidewalks with gray curbs and gutters with frogs and a scent of weeds when the city was not yet changed by modernism and the vacant lots reminded us of balls caressed by rubber-soled slippers and espadrilles.

Times when the sounds of a radio set were heard in the street through windows and balconies with flowers or through a morning glory hanging from rusty wire fences. Floor tiles and bricks, asphalt and mud, lights and shadows full of juvenile joys, of hopes, of dreams and the slow walking of someone who was coming back home from his job; while, down yonder, many others crowded a downtown area with a smell of suburbs.

By then passion for tango had reached streets, tearooms, salons and clubs in the neighborhoods. Everything was tango and so the radio station executives wanted to fill their programs with this music. The broadcastings Radio Belgrano, Splendid and El Mundo were competing to take the best advantage of that. The latter was precisely which started first by including in its programming the today legendary Ronda de Ases, a radio show that established the boom of the tango orchestras and their vocalists in live broadcasts.

It was aired from the Teatro Casino and names such as Tanturi-Castillo, D'Agostino-Vargas, Di Sarli-Rufino, D'Arienzo-Mauré, Fresedo-Serpa and Troilo–Fiorentino performed there. They were all brave teams that appealed to tango lovers transformed into zealous fans of the orchestra of their choice and with which they were fully identified. The program was emceed by the unforgettable Jaime Font Saravia, aided by Juan José Piñeiro, with scripts sketched by José Barreiros Bazán. With less popularity but with a great quality in performance, the orchestras led by Alberto Soifer and Edgardo Donato as well appeared in the program.

I recall that in the early stage of Ronda de Ases Troilo presented the first arrangement that Astor Piazzolla had written for him, the milonga “Azabache” composed by Enrique Francini and Homero Expósito. At that contest Pichuco achieved the first place.

Ronda de Ases was aired for a long time and adopted other alternative names like Esquinas de mi ciudad and Casino but always kept the high quality of its protagonists.

By that time Buenos Aires breathed tango and other aggregations —Miguel Caló, Domingo Federico, Alfredo De Angelis, Osvaldo Pugliese— filled with their music the air of a radio that had reached a privileged site in the Argentine homes.

During 1945 Radio Belgrano, always ready to surpass the leadership held by Radio El Mundo, with the auspices of the Compañía Argentina Sydney Ross S.A. launched a program titled The triumphant voice in the Glostora Songbook: Alberto Castillo which was aired on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9.30 p.m. It included a space for sports under the name Sports news for the triumphant youth, with the commentator Enzo Ardigó. The purpose of the sponsors was evident: the conquest of the market of the young —for the Glostora hair gel—, taking advantage of the popularity of tango among young people.

We were living then —unknowingly— the eve of an event that very soon would arrive, and stay for many years, in Argentina and in many other neighboring countries.

Unfortunately, there are no files left that allow us to search with a greater precision that period of tango and poetry, but backed on a nostalgic memory which does not fail me, I dare to delve into this reminiscing.

In El Mundo newspaper of Monday April 1, 1946, we read an important ad announcing the appearance, at 8 p.m. that day, of maestro Alfredo De Angelis and his vocalists Carlos Dante and Julio Martel in a new program: El Glostora Tango Club for the «triumphant youth». It was a 15-minute space in which «The hair gel of the great world within reach of the whole world» introduced his «exclusive star to the Argentina radio audience».

To a better understanding of that period of time it's worthwhile to remember that that very day the news in the papers announced the reappearance of the Pedro Maffia's orchestra at the Palacio del Baile of Parque Retiro, and on 892 Lavalle Street the reopening of the Confitería Nobel with the performance of the orchestras led by Alfredo De Angelis and Héctor Lagna Fietta and featuring Ricardo Tanturi, Osvaldo Donato, Roberto Quiroga, Barry Moral, the Hawaiian California and the poet Héctor Gagliardi as guest artists.

Imagine that all this was happening on a Monday date in only two night venues, so we may guess without mistake that extraordinary music marathons, dancing and something else used to fill the Buenos Aires nights.

But let's go back to April 1, 1946 to revise the programming that Radio El Mundo offered that day in the previous hours to the awaited debut of the Glostora Tango Club.

After the news at six p.m. Raúl Galván sang romantic songs and was followed by don Atahualpa Yupanqui who delighted us with music from the Altiplano. Later came Washington Bertolín and his syncopated rhythm, Bina Butti singing Neapolitan songs, news about car races, Alberto Rodríguez with Bailes criollos and Ortega del Cerro with Canción de barrio. Again news, next came boleros with Gladys Marvel and at 7.45 p.m., the ineffable Peter Fox lo sabía (Peter Fox knew it), a sparkling prelude to what was yet to come a few minutes later.

Then the expected beep sound at 8 p.m. was heard, as was foreseen, and the imaginary curtain of the 15-minute program, which for years would be the most popular boom on radio, was raised. The voices of Rafael Díaz Gallardo and Lucía Marcó announced El Glostora Tango Club, «the ineludible appointment for the triumphant youth» featuring the Alfredo De Angelis Orchestra and its singers Carlos Dante and Julio Martel. According to Juan Carlos Jusem, a tango fan with good memory, the first rendition of the orchestra with the vocalist Dante was the tango “Carnaval” by Aieta and García Jiménez.

¿Sos vos, pebeta? ¿Sos vos? ¿Cómo te va?
¿Estás de baile? ¿Con quién? ¡Con un bacán!
¡Tan bien vestida, das el golpe!...
Te lo digo de verdad.

So on LR1 Radio El Mundo and the Cadena azul y blanca a tango program was born, a true myth of excellence and popular warmth. An unarguable reference, a turning point in time that branded forever those who were lucky to be witnesses of the predominance of our city song over any other expression.

Even though I may finish here the story about that anthological presentation, I can't resist mentioning what happened later. The radio station continued with Angelito y Saturnino, dos piratas argentinos, with Osvaldo Canónico and Tincho Zabala. At 8.35 p.m. La alegre cabalgata Palmolive appeared and half an hour later came the tango orchestra led by maestro Ricardo Tanturi with Enrique Campos on vocals and the Hawaiian Serenaders. We might as well have said that it was a «complete row», but it wasn't, next Augusto Codecá and Aníbal Troilo with Alberto Marino and Floreal Ruiz appeared spicing the 30 minutes of humor and tango that preceded the Radioteatro de la noche (the evening soap opera on the radio).

With no changes the boom of the Glostora Tango Club went on and for a long time that name and the name of maestro De Angelis became an equivalent to tango. For many years the orchestra and its vocalists, Carlos Dante and Julio Martel, first and, when the latter left in 1951, Oscar Larroca, were the source of the popular acclaim of this cycle at 8 p.m. at the always crowded auditorium of Radio El Mundo.

On several occasions, because of engagements of the orchestra, the appearances of De Angelis swapped with the outfits of other leaders. But he always returned to Glostora. In his continuous appearances different vocalists joined him: Juan Carlos Godoy, Roberto Florio, Lalo Martel, Roberto Mancini, Carlos Aguirre and Alberto Cuello.

Many were the tango orchestras that played in that program as from 1951. They were all of first level. Among them I recall those led by Francisco Canaro, Ricardo Tanturi, Miguel Caló, Juan Sánchez Gorio, Juan D'Arienzo, Héctor Varela, José Basso, Armando Pontier, Alfredo Gobbi, Enrique Francini, Rodolfo Biagi, Osvaldo Pugliese, Donato Racciatti, and Jorge Arduh. The latter is the only survivor of that constellation of stars and he today, from his Córdoba hometown, remembers that his last rendering on that space, back in 1964, was “La cumparsita”.

I say it again, El Glostora Tango Club was a landmark in the Argentine broadcasting and takes us back to a time when nostalgia is associated to other unforgettable programs: Qué pareja, with Héctor Maselli and Blanquita Santos, sponsored by Rinso soap, Peter Fox lo sabía, with José Tresenza and Los Pérez García, with Martín Zabalúa, Sara Prósperi, Celia Juárez and Jorge Norton. They all coexisted with El Glostora Tango Club between 7.30 and 8.30 p.m.

They were twenty-two years of permanent airplay in which maestro De Angelis was the «driver» of a gold page in the history of radio and tango.

The passing of time and the boom of television were displacing radio. Like a light that is dying down slowly, almost at the end of the late sixties El Glostora Tango Club was gone forever and entered the gray space of memories. So it went away, leaning on the old wall of the southern neighborhood waiting for the «first beam of sunlight» like “Rosicler” that grows bigger in Julio Martel's voice and tells us:

La vida es este río
que me arrastra en su corriente
blando y yacente, lívida imagen,
de vuelta ya de todos los nostálgicos paisajes,
muerta la fe, marchita la ilusión...

(Life is this river that hauls me along in its current
soft and lying, a pale image, after returning from all the nostalgic landscapes, with a dead faith, the illusions withered...)

So many pleasant times spent under the shelter of this cycle with the indelible figure of maestro De Angelis were left behind forever.

Nostalgia of a lost neighborhood, that one in which tango floated and its tunes were spread among the shadows, were tangled with the night round of the "cop" and went to bed with their love dream on the old merry-go-round. And evoking Homero, I say:

Fueron años de cercos y glicinas,
de la vida en "orsay", del tiempo loco.

(Those were years with fences and wisterias,
of life in off-side, was a crazy time).