Posts Tagged ‘Marabu’

July 1, 1937 at Marabú

November 21, 2010

This was the date and location of Aníbal Troilo’s debut with his orquesta.  The city legislature resolved to pay homage to this great musician with the placement of permanent plaque on the façade of the building.  The ceremony took place on Friday at Maipu 359 with performances of Troilo compositions by three singers and a presentation by author/poet Juan Jose Vieytes.  Those in attendance went to the street for the unveiling of the plaque and then to the corner of Corrientes and Esmeralda for another brief presentation by Sr. Vieytes (86) who shares his memories with tango.

Luis Zorz - fileteador


Juan Jose Vieytes (Chichin de Buenos Aires)

Chichin told us that the dancers at Teatro Maipo on Esmeralda would go to Marabú after their performances. 

Ricardo Marin and Juan Carlos Godoy (88)

Juan Carlos Godoy sings at La Casa de Anibal Troilo (Carlos Calvo 2540 in San Cristobal).  He and Ricardo Marin sang a duet during the homenaje that was fabulous.

This is the sign on the front of what was the cabaret Marabú and later known as Maracaibo until it closed ten years ago.


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.

Day of the Bandoneon

July 11, 2009

Today marks the 95th anniversary of the birthday of Aníbal Troilo, who is considered by many as the greatest bandoneon player tango has ever had.  Pichuco was only 23 years old when he debuted with his orchestra in the cabaret Marabú located at Maipu 365. 

The national day of the bandoneon was established in 2005 and is dedicated to the bandoneon, an instrument of German origin which gives tango its unique and haunting sound.  The best instruments were made before 1942 and are in short supply these days with the growing popularity in playing the instrument.  There is a Fueye Alert to keep instruments in Argentina.  Young musicians will have to wait for old musicians to die in order to buy a instrument made by Alfred Arnold (known as Double A) or Premier.

Chicago was fortunate to have a resident bandoneonist who was invited to play tangos for dancing.  Jim Sherry ran a music store on the southside and invited Alejandro Scarpino (son of the composer/bandoneonist who wrote Canaro en Paris).  I remember making the drive from a northwest suburb to the southside of Chicago to a practica at Casa Tanguera where Scarpino provided the music for dancing.  The community of dancers was new in 1991, and there was a very small attendance.   I organized a tango event at Chicago Dance Studio in January 1992, with Alejandro Scarpino as special guest.   A large crowd came to hear him perform for ten minutes.  He eventually moved to Los Angeles which had a larger Argentine tango community.

Solo performances of Dia del Bandoneon: Leopoldo Federico, Walter RiosNestor Marconi, Julio Pane, and Juan José Mosalini.