Archive for the ‘Cabarets’ Category

Like a step back in time to the golden era of tango

July 14, 2017

Nina and Oscar told me they would be dancing an exhibition on July 13 in Marabu, when I met them at Nuevo Chique on June 20.  I looked forward to seeing them again.  I didn’t know what plans were in store for that night until reading the program for the month at Marabu on Facebook.

I knew I didn’t want to miss this night at Marabu, which years later was known as Maracaibo.  The purpose was to pay tribute to Anibal Troilo who debuted his orquesta in 1937 in this very same venue as it is today.  They unveiled a plaque from the city legislature at the ceremony.

I attended afternoon milongas at Maracaibo before it closed in 2000.  Years later, I attended other special events there, but never heard an orchestra perform on the stage where Di Sarli played and Troilo debuted his orquesta . . . until last night.

Nina and Oscar delighted the audience with a tango by D’Arienzo and a vals, then another tango by Di Sarli.

La Orquesta de Richard Cappz played Troilo classics as his orquesta recorded them.  It was incredible.  There I was, listening to the orquesta perform Troilo where Troilo debuted 80 years ago with his orquesta. I was trying to imagine how it was for the public who heard the orquesta for the first time and danced and listened to this music.  Troilo was only 23 years old.

I met Richard Cappz (center bandoneonist) when he was a member of Orquesta Gente de Tango (Di Sarli style). I’m glad that he formed his own orquesta with an excellent ensemble of musicians.

They finished the night playing Quejas de bandoneon, the signature composition of Troilo.

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Chantecler Tango

June 2, 2014

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Chantecler Tango is back for a two-week engagement at Teatro Opera from June 26.

This is a synopsis of the story:  The magical nights of Chantecler, the most important and luxurious cabaret in Buenos Aires in the 1940′s, are recreated through a story what passes between the present and the past.  In the beginning, a young man who worked the cabaret is seeing it with the seller of an estate and the night watchman.   Suddenly the room magically comes back to life and returns to its time of glory. And that watchman of many years is none other than the entertainer Angel Sanchez Carreno, better known as The Cuban Prince, who evokes the unforgettable evenings of Chantecler; characters like Rithana, the star dancer who surrendered at his feet, tragedies, intrigues and passions.

The old Chantecler reappears and then several parallel stories unfold in a constant flow of time and characters, including tango’s golden years and the present life of Angel today, the sale of the premises and its new destiny; Rithana and her relations with the chief of police and the cabaret singer; the director of the orchestra, his wife and her lover. Great tangos of the 1940s – mainly Juan D’Arienzo, jazz of the era and original music composed by Gerardo Gardelin form the framework for Chantecler Tango.

Chantecler Tango

June 27, 2013

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Chantecler Tango is back for another engagement in Teatro Presidente Alvear on Corrientes until August 18.  Don’t miss it.   Another option is Le Théâtre du Châtelet de Paris (October 9-November 3) where Tango Argentino premiered on November 10, 1983.

frente%20chantecler

interior%20salon%20del%20chantecler

These are the first photographs I’ve seen of the exterior and interior of Chantecler.

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I bought tickets for the Wednesday performance even though Mora Godoy’s replacement was going to perform.  As it turned out, Mora danced the July 17th performance, and she was spectacular as always with a brilliant cast of dancers.  I like to sit in the third row center of the balcony to see everything that’s going on.  The cast has new wardrobe for the finale.  This is musical theater at its best.  Get ready Broadway!

This is a synopsis of the story:  The magical nights of Chantecler, the most important and luxurious cabaret in Buenos Aires in the 1940’s, are recreated through a story what passes between the present and the past.  In the beginning, a young man who worked the cabaret is seeing it with the seller of an estate and the night watchman.   Suddenly the room magically comes back to life and returns to its time of glory. And that watchman of many years is none other than the entertainer Angel Sanchez Carreno, better known as The Cuban Prince, who evokes the unforgettable evenings of Chantecler; characters like Rithana, the star dancer who surrendered at his feet, tragedies, intrigues and passions.

The old Chantecler reappears and then several parallel stories unfold in a constant flow of time and characters, including tango’s golden years and the present life of Angel today, the sale of the premises and its new destiny; Rithana and her relations with the chief of police and the cabaret singer; the director of the orchestra, his wife and her lover. Great tangos of the 1940s – mainly Juan D’Arienzo, jazz of the era and original music composed by Gerardo Gardelin form the framework for Chantecler Tango.

All I want for Christmas is my own cabaret

December 10, 2012

I walked around the city one day recently and found myself in front of the famous Cabaret Marabú (later known as Club Maracaibo) at Maipu 365, where Anibal Troilo debuted with his orquesta tipica in 1937.  I found a for-sale sign on the door and made a note of the site with information.  It didn’t take too long to find the details and photos for the property.

I heard that an American bought the property and was going to turn it into a tango museum.  Evidently that did not happen.  If someone is interested in owning a historical place in tango history, just let Santa know.

Chantecler Tango

May 3, 2012

Chantecler was a cabaret on Paraná off Corrientes from 1924 to 1960 where Juan D’Arienzo’s orchestra performed.  This new musical pays tribute to the most important and luxurious cabaret of Buenos Aires with a story between the present and the past, of suspense and betrayal.  The orchestra on stage is very special.

While tango house shows in Buenos Aires are beyond the budget of most, this show is an exception.  Wednesday has specially priced tickets from 20-60 pesos.  I attended last night’s performance for 40 pesos with a third-row center seat in the balcony–a bargain for a musical of Broadway caliber.  Mora shines as a dancer.  The show is outstanding.  The director Stephen Rayne is English and studied in London.  They will no doubt take the show to the UK.

Video

Tango in the cabarets

August 18, 2009

There is nothing written about exactly what happened inside the cabarets of Buenos Aires.  The only way to learn about the nightlife in the cabarets is to talk to those who inhabited them–musicians and milongueros.  That’s exactly what Andrés Casak and Mariano del Mazo have done in order to gather pieces of the puzzle and tell the story of the era of cabarets in Buenos Aires from 1930-1960.

Tango in the cabarets

They invited Carlos Pazo, Mario Abramovich, and Alcides Rossi to share details as tango musicians in the cabarets during a conference of the Festival Buenos Aires Tango.  This included a special video presentation with  Leopoldo Federico and Alberto Podestá and clips from the film Vida Nocturna (1952) and Cuatro Corazones about the cabarets.

The city had cabarets in three zones:  along Corrientes from Calláo to Nueve de Julio, Nueve de Julio to Alem (known as “Bajo,” the lower part of Corrientes) and La Boca.  The cabarets opened at 23 hs and closed at 4 in the morning.  Orquestas de tango had contracts for six months, so the musicians had steady work in those days.  No one under the age of 18 was allowed to enter the cabarets, but Leopoldo Federico told the story of being hired as bandoneonist at the age of 17 to play at Tabaris (Corrientes 829).

The most famous cabarets (thanks to the orquesta that performed in them)were Chantecler(on Paraná near Corrientes) where Juan D’Arienzo’s orquesta played regularly; Marabú(on Maipu near Corrientes in “Bajo“) with Carlos Di Sarli; Singapur(Montevideo 348) with Miguel Calo and Alberto Podestá; and El Avion in La Boca.

I learned interesting morsels about the cabarets.  Chantecler had a swimming pool.  The coperas drank tea instead of alcohol with the male patrons in the cabarets who bought drinks for them.  Otherwise they would have been inebriated before the night was over. The musicians were strictly prohibited from talking with the coperas whose job was to sell drinks, engage in conversation and dance with customers.  Musicians were not allowed to leave the cabaret with a copera, although what they did outside the cabaret was their own business.

Musicians got their training with the orquestas in the cabarets.  They rehearsed in the salones of the cabarets.  In some of them, the orquesta performed from a balcony where the ladder was removed so they couldn’t return to the main floor and talk with the young ladies who worked.  That never stopped them from trying.  Some musicians ended up marrying coperas. 

The first 45 minutes of music in a cabaret was like a rehearsal when they didn’t play continuously.  Nobody danced the first hour.  The cabaret was important to the success of an orquesta for it was where new compositions were performed for the first time.  If the dancers liked it, it became a hit and then it was recorded.  An orquesta played six nights a week in cabarets from April through December with the summer months off.  The musicians were very well paid.

Confiterias bailables

August 6, 2009

There were only nine of them downtown during the 1950s where recorded music was played from 5:00 to 9:00 in the evening.  One could go to one the confiterias bailables for a few hours of dancing before returning home.  It was a dancer’s “cocktail”  before dinner.  In those days, everyone who worked downtown was dressed appropriately to go dancing after work.  It’s no surprise that this custom continues today.  The confiterias bailables  are where the young milongueros went every afternoon.  They had to be at least 18 years old to enter, but many of them managed to enter by going with older friends.  The confiterias bailables were open seven days a week with different dancers and age groups in the evening until 10 and at night until 4 in the morning. 

A confiteria is a place where coffee and sweets are served.  A confiteria bailable was a place that offered cocktails and dancing to recorded music.

The confiterias bailables have been my favorite research project for several years.  It has taken time to piece together information about them.  The milongueros, now in their 70s, speak about their days at Montecarlo, Siglo XX, Domino, La Nobel, La Metro, Picadilly, La Cigalle, Sans Souci, and Mi Club.  Only Mi Club still exists as a dance hall; the others are gone, but hardly forgotten by those who frequented them.  No photographs of the interiors exist, so I took photos of what exists where the confiterias bailables used to be.  The downtown neighborhood of San Nicolas has undergone major construction changes although many architectural masterpieces still remain such as Confiteria La Ideal (1917) and Café Tortoni (1893). 

Corrientes 900 block

Corrientes 900 block

Confiteria Sans Souci was located at Corrientes 955 below street level and across from Teatro La Nacional.  Everyone went to dance there during the golden era of the milongas.  You had to not only be well dressed, you had to know how to dance well.

Corrientes 1218

Corrientes 1218

 

Roberto Angel Pujol told me that lots of school teachers went to dance in Confiteria Montecarlo in the late afternoon.  This is where Miguel Angel Balbi met Isabel Garcia, the woman he married in 1962.

I danced many afternoons in Montecarlo when Alicia “la Turca” Juan and Juan Carlos La Falce ran their milonga Pavadita  in 1999.  Their milonga closed in October 2000 when the club was rented to another tenant. 

Lavalle 888

Lavalle 888

 
Confiteria La Nobel was located below street level at Lavalle 888.  Today it’s Pizza Roma.  I would like to see the lower level where young milongueros went to dance during the 1950s.   
Corrientes 1524

Corrientes 1524

Picadilly was once a cabaret and then a confiteria bailable.   This may be the case for other places downtown when cabarets were on the decline.  They opened in the evening from 5:00 until 10:00, then closed an hour for cleaning, to reopen at 11:00 for a different crowd until 4:00 in the morning.  Recordings were played for the evening dances, but two orchestras (jazz and tango) performed at night.  Teatro Picadilly is downstairs and still has productions.

Suipacha 586

Suipacha 586

After Club Montecarlo closed, Alicia “La Turca” opened her milonga in Mi Club in January 2001.  Ricardo Suarez and Luis Trapasso organized their milonga together for only a short time.  When Carlos Di Sarli and his orchestra performed at Mi Club they had 600 in attendance. The place is still open today as a nightclub.
Cerritto 550-574

Cerrito 550-574

Confiteria La Metro was on the first floor of the movie theater Cine Metro.  Today it is the dinner theater Tango Porteño that seats 1,500 for a lavish tango production.
Corrientes 1441

Corrientes 1441

 
 
 
 
Confiteria Siglo XX was located in the building at Corrientes 1441 where the public college of lawyers exists today. 
Corner of Lavalle y Esmeralda

Corner of Lavalle y Esmeralda

 
Confiteria Domino was in the cabaret district.  It opened in the late afternoon for dances.  Located at the corner of Lavalle and Esmeralda below street level with entrances from both streets, Domino was close to many cabarets–Lucerna (Suipacha 567), Tabaris (Corrientes 829), Novelty (across the street on Esmeralda), Empire (corner of Corrientes & Esmeralda), Casanova, Casino Pigall, Marabú (all three in Maipu 300), and Bambú (Corrientes 600).  Patrons chose a cabaret according to the orchestras (tango and jazz) that were performing.
Confiteria La Cigalle was located on the first floor of Teatro Broadway which continues with productions at Corrientes 1155.  
These nine confiterias bailables are where the confiteria style of tango originated.  They were small dance spaces where the milongueros created and improvised–what is called the milonguero style.  It’s the way the milongueros who went to the confiterias bailables dance today, so we know that it’s been around since the 1950s.  There is nothing outdated or old-fashioned about it. What woman doesn’t want to be embraced by a man dancing to the best recorded music of Anibal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli, Miguel Caló, Ricardo Tanturi, etc.?  The simple, compact  style has been danced in the milongas for decades.  Let’s hope that continues for the sake of social dancing in Buenos Aires.
Please forgive the poor quality of photographs.  The film had expired by the time it was developed.  Future photos will be digital.

Cabarets in Buenos Aires

April 22, 2009

The style of  Parisian cabarets reached Buenos Aires during the first decades of the 20th century.  Cabarets were lavish places that opened at midnight where the wealthy went to dine and dance to music of jazz and tango orchestras.  They weren’t exclusively for men, although they were the majority of patrons.  Coperas were women who made a living selling drinks to the patrons and who sat with customers at their table for pleasant conversation.  They had to work until the cabaret closed and then paid a commission to a cafishio.  At one time, the city had 5,000 registered coperas (also referred to as alternadoras) working in cabarets.

The cabarets had large salons with large dance floors surrounded by tables and a bar.  Two orchestras alternated sets for tango and jazz music for dancing, and musicians were well paid and enjoyed working nights at the cabarets.  During the 1940s when lunfardo was prohibited from use in tango, cabaret was also included, so tango lyrics had to be changed. There are very few witnesses of those times who remain–they are the milongueros who could tell us. 

One of the most famous cabarets of Buenos Aires was Chantecler, which opened December 24, 1924, with Julio De Caro. It was located at Paraná 440 near Av. Corrientes.  Juan D’Arienzo’s orchestra performed there regularly.  The owner gave D’Arienzo the name El Rey de compás.  Chantecler was demolished in 1960.

Cabaret Marabú, which opened in 1934, was located at Maipú 365.  Many years later it was called Club Maracaibo, and several milongas were organized there before it was finally closed in 2000.  The owners were bankrupt, and the place was sold at auction.  Walking down the stairs to enter Maracaibo (below street level) was an experience in itself.  I remember when Jorge Orellana told me that we were dancing where Anibal Troilo debuted in 1937.  Rodolfo Biaggi performed there in 1938 and Alfredo De Angelis in the late 40s.

tabarisCabaret Tabaris, formerly called Royal Pigall, was located at Av. Corrientes 829-831.  Today it operates as the Teatro Tabaris and currently has the show La Fiesta esta en el Tabaris.   Leopoldo Federico made his debut on bandoneon at the Tabaris when he was 17.  His father would go at 4:00 in the morning to escort his son home, and then he went off to work at 6:00.

The downtown neighborhood of Buenos Aires is San Nicolas  bounded by Av. Cordoba on the north, Av. Rivadavia on the south, Av. Leandro Alem on the east and Av. Callao on the west, encompassing approximately 144 square blocks where at one time tango permeated the air almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in the dozens of cafés and cabarets. 

My research on the internet produced names of cabarets that once existed in San Nicolas, such as Desiré (corner of Sarmiento and Cerrito), Casanova (in front of Marabú; Lucio Demare played for opening night ) Casino Pigall (next door to Casanova), Lucerna (Suipacha 567), Jezebel (Corrientes 900), Tibidabo (Corrientes 1244), Cote D’Azur (25 de Mayo near Corrientes), Novelty (Esmeralda 400), Empire (Corrientes & Esmeralda), Bambú (Corrientes 600), Montmartre (Corrientes 1431-35, where Miguel Calo performed), Shanghi, El Royal, Rendez-Vous, Moulin Rouge, El Derby, Cielo de California, Abdulah Club (in Galeria Güemes at Florida 165), and Petit Salon (where Rufino debuted at 16 in 1938).  Corrientes is known as the street that never closes for good reason.

No lessons required

August 14, 2008
My sister Linda and I were regular viewers of American Bandstand, a television program of teenagers dancing to the rock ‘n’ roll tunes we heard on the radio. American Bandstand with its host Dick Clark was on five days a week after school beginning August 1957-1963, our preteen years. We listened to rock ‘n’ roll music on WLS-Chicago radio with Dick Biondi. We bought 45 rpm records of our favorites. We practiced dancing at home with the kitchen doorknob and each other. We aspired to dance like the teens on American Bandstand. There weren’t any dance classes for teenagers who wanted to dance to rock ‘n’ roll music. Teenagers just watched television and copied what they saw or their friends showed them how. We danced to the tunes we heard on the radio. It was our music growing up in the 1950s and 60s. My sister and I knew how to dance when we got to high school and attended Friday night sock hops. The problem was that the boys didn’t dance.
 
Teenagers on American Bandstand who have a nice embrace for tango

Teenagers on American Bandstand who have a nice embrace for tango

Dancing in Buenos Aires was entirely a different matter where teenagers were concerned. Tango was practically the only music on the radio in Buenos Aires during the 1940s and 1950s. Most families didn’t have a television in Buenos Aires until the 1960s, if at all. Boys wanted to meet girls, so the social activity of choice was dancing. Boys had family as role models at parties where dance and music were always present. They went to a neighborhood club to see others dancing. There weren’t any organized classes, so the boys in the neighborhood gathered on a street corner and learned from each other. Some practiced together until they were ready to dance with partners. Girls were escorted by an older relative to learn by dancing with the boys at a neighborhood club. They sat accompanied by their mothers or aunts at tables around the perimeter of the floor waiting for the boys standing in the center to invite them to dance. They learned tango and vals by dancing. No lessons required. The young men weren’t allowed to enter the downtown confiterias until they were 18, but that didn’t stop many from going with a relative or friend who had instructed them on the codes and introduced them to friends. As soon as they owned their first suit with long pants, they were ready to enter a confiteria where they observed for a year or two before dancing publicly. Then once they tasted the nightlife of downtown Buenos Aires they became regular inhabitants of the confiterias and cabarets lining the streets of downtown Buenos Aires. There they perfected their individual styles dancing to recordings of their favorite orchestras. A few of these men who danced in the 1940s and 50s are still dancing today. They are the milongueros—self-taught dancers who can dance well with any woman with musicality and elegance.