I always find it rewarding when friends show a genuine interest in what is underneath the unexplainable attraction we feel towards the Argentine tango. And I mean not just the dance but the music, the poetry and all the accumulated life experiences of men and women who never imagined that their popular cultural expressions would prove Borges wrong, and instead of being relegated to being museum pieces, they would occupy a very important aspect in the lives of thousands of people around the world.
It happened on one of those overcast mornings when class was ending. Curiosity may have caused somebody to poke around the CD pile and fate did the rest. Suddenly it was the voice of Carlos Dante asking where was she going wearing a shawl from Manila, where was she going wearing such a pretty costume…? and the unmistakable sound of the Alfredo De Angelis orchestra. The tango is called Carnaval and deals with the ingratitude of someone who quickly forgot friends and loved ones after finding a wealthier companion. My late father used to sing it all the time. I guess it was very popular at the time. As a matter of fact De Angelis is credited by many as being indirectly responsible for their conception.
Yes, in the late forties and early fifties, the neighborhood clubs, especially at carnaval time, were the place for boys and girls to meet and flirt. The setting was a huge gymnasium dressed for the occasion with festive decorations. The music was equal shares of tango and jazz. The orchestra of Alfredo De Angelis with the voices of Julio Martel and Carlos Dante was hot, and people traveled just to dance to their music. Much later when the budding carnaval romances ended up in marriage, countless love makings and conceptions took place while De Angelis was playing on the radio. Now the imagery pops in living color and full of emotion..
A gray winter afternoon in Buenos Aires, the long bus ride sitting next to dad. Dusk is settling in. Calle Corrientes wakes up with a big yawn of noises and neon. Calle Florida is busy carrying serious men and women back and forth. Calle Maipu 555, Radio El Mundo, El Glostora Tango Club, Alfredo De Angelis, La pastora and her tra-la-ra-la-ra!
If it is true that in our mind we keep a record of every feeling and emotion we have experienced from the day that we were born, I must have run into some very old recordings which I did not even know I had. What is so great about these recordings is that they are stored with sound, images, feelings and emotions. Yes, a mind boggling piece of biological engineering, the kind of browser not even Bill Gates can figure out. Not that engineers and scientists have not attempted to rationalize feelings and emotions. Just listen in on any tango chats on the Internet. Well, maybe don’t, because you too may be tempted to become a tango browser and start dancing by modem.