Places of Tango

Of cabarets, dives, cinemas and brothels

von Olli Eyding (2022)


In the Arrabales, the neighbourhoods of workers, immigrants and the poor, early forms of tango saw the light of day in the second half of the 19th century.


In establishments that were still closely linked to prostitution - the best known being the Lo de Laura or the Lo de Vasca - the tango experienced its early, wild years before and after 1900.


And in cafés, cinemas and dance halls, especially in the port district of La Boca, the musicians of the Guardia Vieja distinguished themselves and the new music between 1900 and 1920.


The musicians of the Guardia Nueva, such as Canaro, Fresedo or Firpo, but above all Julio de Caro's sextet, finally made the tango socially acceptable in the 1920s.

The porteños danced in the neighbourhood, in community halls, in bars and restaurants, in gymnasiums and sports facilities, and for carnival, the football clubs converted their stadiums into huge dance floors.

But it was the large, sophisticated cabarets, mostly in the centre of the city around the legendary Calle Corrientes, where tango culture blossomed during the Época de Oro, the golden age of tango between 1930 and 1950.


From 1910 onwards, but especially in the 1920s and 1930s, the upper classes of Buenos Aires, as always full of reverence for the Parisian model, created cabarets for themselves, places where they could celebrate their status and wealth with French sophistication.


The first cabarets were called Armenonville, Montmartre, Royal Pigall or Parisiana.


These names alone tell of the longing to match the Parisian entertainment district of Montmartre. But the legendary Palais de Glace also belongs to this league.



The cabarets were full of luxurious and offered varied evening entertainment.


Guests met to eat, to drink, to dance, they wanted to see and to be seen, while - in keeping with Parisian tradition - a circus-like variety programme with jugglers, magicians, transformation artists and acrobats provided entertainment on stage around midnight.




Palais de Glace


Other Cabarets

Vor 1920


Lo de Laura

Lo de Vasca

Pabellon de las Rosas

Other places to dance

Clubs in the arrabales

Confiterias Bailables


The Calle Corrientes

Tango life on Radio August 1945

Vanguardia - after 1960

El Caño 14

El viejo almacén



The Cabaret Chantecler

The Up and Down of an institution

first published in TangoDanza 2017

Nobel, nobel

The Chantecler was one of the most prestigious establishments. It opened in December 1924 on Calle Paraná, just off the main entertainment street, Calle Corrientes. Its façade decoration, a mill and pictures of Montmartre, directly referred to the eternal place of longing, Paris.


The builder, Charles Seguin, had been in the business for some time. He had previously run the equally prestigious Tabaris and Casino cabarets. He had erected his new temple of amusement in the style of the Belle Époque.


As Seguin died childless, he handed over the Chantecler to Amadeo Garesio and his young, pretty wife Ritana, who was present everywhere in the Chantecler.


The story goes that Garesio landed in Buenos Aires with a troupe of Corsican trapeze artists, later ran several brothels and, as he increasingly won the trust of the childless Seguin, became his right-hand man and eventually his heir and successor.

The facade of the Chantecler

Dancers, staff, musicians, arround 1935

The grand salon, arround 1927

Three dance floors and spacious boxes

A luxurious bar awaited the guests, of course, and the variety artists presented themselves on a stage.


The tangueros could choose between three dance floors surrounded by tables with lounge-like armchairs.


In the walls and on the gallery, as in a theatre, there were partly spacious boxes, which were actually so large that the haute volee could even dance in a private atmosphere.

Thick red curtains gave intimacy, food and drinks were ordered by telephone.


At times, there was even a water basin at the back of the building where young girls celebrated water acrobatics for the pleasure of the visitors.

Pictures of Chanteclair arround 1935

For the opening, Señor Charles Seguin had invited the hottest and most innovative orchestra in 1924, Julio de Caro's Sextet.


But the Chantecler experienced its great period at the end of the 1930s and in the 1940s as the home of Juan D'Arienzo's orchestra.



El Rey del Compás

It was here that D'Arienzo's new, energetic style was born, which kicked off the dance boom of the Época de Oro. It was here that Juan D'Arienzo was given the title El Rey del Compás by Ángel Sánchez Carreño, known as El Principe Cubano.


The Cuban Prince

He led the evening as a singing emcee for more than 30 years, also controlling the staff, supervising the appearance of the servants and hostesses, ensuring the perfect fit of the clothes or the accuracy of the hairstyles.

El Principe Cubano

And here's a fantastic reportage - but in spanish


Illustrious guests

The guests, who were greeted at the entrance by a porter in a classic uniform with shiny golden buttons, included members of the upper class, politicians, intellectuals, artists, but it was also a must for tourists to have been to the Chantecler.


Carlos Gardel came and went here, not only because he was friends with Juan D'Arienzo, but also, so the story goes, because he had a not uncomplicated affair with the aforementioned Ritana, the pretty wife of the second owner and operator of the Chantecler. Gardel had his box, where he regularly met with his friends for a bottle or two of champagne.


Some of the visitors to the cabarets, which usually didn't open until 11 p.m., came as couples.



The majority of the guests, however, were men who wandered through the night individually or in groups. Waiting for them were the alternadoras or coperas, whose job it was to be invited to the table by the gentlemen and to encourage them to consume as much as possible - and sometimes more.

They, or rather their pimps, also received a percentage of the amount consumed at the end of the evening - the cabarets closed around three to four in the morning.

At the height of the tango culture, there were around 5000 alternadoras registered with the city.

Incidentally, even then the custom had been established that the orchestras ended the evening with La Cumparsita.


For the orchestras of the time, a contract in one of the big cabarets was an important step towards a secure existence. The pay was good, the engagement often stretched over many months or years.

The bands played up to six times a week. They often rehearsed before the evening session. And they could test and improve their new compositions in front of an audience. And if a tango hit the spot, maybe the recording studio was waiting for the band.

Other contracts included that during the week the band played at the cabaret in the centre of the city, while at the weekend they performed at the big clubs and dances in the suburbs.


The owners tried to prevent contacts between musicians and alternadoras, which of course was not always successful. Many a marriage, according to a contemporary witness, was in the offing here.

The mothers

And there was another highly visible group of visitors: the mothers of girls and young women who wanted to go dancing!


The orchestra leader Domingo Federico reports about the salons of the 1940s that the mothers often formed a ring around the dance floors, most obviously in the clubs of the suburbs, while in the large salons they tended to be lost in the crowd. But they were always there. Federico sayed in an exaggerating way about the watchful mothers:

If you touched a single hair of the girls at the end of the dance, they would kill you right away - but dancing you could take them home with you.

Oscar Alemán

As a rule, the tango orchestras played alternately with a jazz orchestra. One of the greatest talents of the time was the guitarist Oscar Alemán, a gifted musician and entertainer who was constantly everywhere on stage at the same time, playing a wide variety of instruments and playfully alternating his singing between Spanish, French and Portuguese.


Pepita Avellaneda as wardrobe mistress

The stories and legends surrounding the Chantecler reach back to the ladies' dressing room. For many years, until its closure, it was run by Pepita Avellaneda, a singer-songwriter from the Guardia Vieja era who performed in cafés or prostibulos such as the aforementioned Lo de Laura around 1900 and made a living at the Chantecler after her career ended.

Adiós Chantecler

Even the famous Chantecler could not counteract the decline of tango and dance culture in the course of the 1950s; it closed its doors in 1957 and was finally demolished in 1960.


The great tango poet Enrique Cadícamo, himself a regular guest at the Chantecler, poured all the nostalgia and memories into the lyrics of the tango Adiós Chantecler, which Juan D'Arienzo set to music with the singer Jorge Valdez in November 1958.

The song ends with the lyrics:
Ya no queda nada
y aquello no existe,
ni tus bailarines
ni tu varieté.
Te veo muy triste
pasar silencioso,
Príncipe Cubano,
frente al Chantecler.

Nothing is left,
there is no more,
not your dancers,
not your vaudeville.
Cuban Prince,
I see you pass by the Chantecler
And sadly creep past the Chantecler.

Adiós Chantecler - D'Arienzo - Valdez 1958


The Calle Corrientes

Calle Corrientes was and is the undisputed centre of nightlife in BA.

Shortly after 1900, Calle Corrientes between Esmeralda and Callao streets already attracted people. Porteños flocked to the numerous cafés, confiterias, theatres, cinemas and bookshops around the clock. It was and is considered the street that never sleeps.



And of course Corrientes y Esmeralda is not just any street corner, no, this is where the tango heart of Buenos Aires beat for many decades.

Carlos Gardel "El Zorzal" frequented the Café Guaraní with his guitarist Razzano, and the famous Teatro Maipo, the Royall Pigall Cabaret and the 1800-seat Teatro Odeón received their guests, writers, tango musicians, poets, artists and night owls gathered here.

Since then, nostalgics and poets have been mourning the old Corrientes. And so it comes as no surprise that in 1933 the composer Francisco Pracánico set to music the text written more than a decade earlier, whose lines bring to life the plump life of the old Corrientes with many facets, albeit full of clichés, full of contrasts.

Corrientes y Esmeralda - Osvaldo Pugliese
This video illustrates the Corrientes with many pictures.
Puglieses interpretation ist the most convincing and most popular of this tango.

The Corrientes has always been a central axis of the city, but until the early 1930s it was still possible to talk from window to window across the street, unless the tram was scraping along the pavement in the narrow street alignment.

Due to the rapid growth of the city, the government had already decided in 1910, on the occasion of the city's 100th anniversary, to expand Corrientes together with other important streets into wide boulevards, so that Buenos Aires would live up to its reputation as the Paris of South America.

But it was only between 1931 and 1936 that the houses on the north side fell victim to the widening into a six-lane avenue. Today, instead of the homely tranvia (= tram), the Linea B races through the underground.

And since then, the famous obelisk at the intersection of Corrientes and the 16-lane Avenida 9 de Julio stretches more than 67 m into the air.



The Palais de Glace

Ice Palace

Just outside the city, next to Recoleta, where there was originally a cycling stadium, the Palais de Glace was built around 1910 in the Belle Époche style inspired by the Parisienne Palais de Glace.


The round ice sports palace had a glass roof construction. Its upper level opened up with noble theatre style balconies into the central room with an ice rink 21m in diameter. There, the refined drew their circles over tea or enjoyed dinner from the integrated restaurant.


While machines rattled in the basement to produce the ice, an organ (there were no amplifiers yet) played alongside orchestral music for the skaters.


Around 1910, the tango slowly made its way out of the disreputable neighbourhoods, losing some of its extreme figures, the cortes and quebradas, and its lasciviousness.


When tango fever finally broke out in Paris in 1913, ushering in Tango Year 1913, the dance also became more recognised in Argentina's upper classes.


At that time one of the most important venues for the haute volee was the Palais de Glace, whose central room had been used for dancing since 1911.


In 1931, following the economic crisis that ended the first tango dance craze, the Palais was converted into an exhibition hall for art and is still used for this purpose today.


A wonderful tango by Enrique Cadicamo, recorded by Ángel D'Agostino in 1944.
Ángel Vargas sings the mephorical verses about this institution

Palais de Glace

Ice palace

Palé de Glas del 920, no existes más
con tu cordial ambiente…
Allí bailé mis tangos de estudiante,
allí soñé con los muchachos de antes.

Palais De Glace from 1920, you don’t exist anymore
with your cordial atmosphere...
There I danced my tangos as a student,
there I dreamed with the lads from old times.


¡Noches del Palé de Glas!
Ilusión de llevar el compás.
Tu recuerdo es emoción
y al mirar que ya no estás se me encoge el corazón...


Nights at Palais De Glace!
Joy of keeping the beat.
Your memory makes me emotional
and seeing that you’re not there anymore my heart shrinks...

Llega un tango viejo al evocar desde el ayer...

An old tango arrives evoking from the past...


¿Qué fue de aquella rueda de amigos? ¿Dónde están?
¿Qué se hizo de mi romántico amor…
Palé de Glas?
Música que llega desde allá y nos hace lagrimear.

What happened to that group of friends? Where are they?
What happened to my romantic love...
Palais De Glace?
Music that arrives from there and makes us weep.

¡Noches del Palé de Glas!
Ilusión de llevar el compás.
Tu recuerdo es emoción
y al mirar que ya no estás se me encoge el corazón...

Nights at Palais De Glace!
Joy of keeping the beat.
Your memory makes me emotional
and seeing that you’re not there anymore my heart shrinks...


Música que llega desde allá y nos hace lagrimear.

Music that arrives from there and makes us weep.

Source: www.tangopoetryproject.com

The Cabaret Marabú

It is famous, because Aníbal Troilo had his debut 1st of April 1937 and played here for years.
Later on it was the home base of Carlos di Sarli.


Other Cabarets


It replaced the Royall Pigall from 1942 and was open from 1942 to 1955, when it was demolished.
The Tibidabo was one of the most prestigious cabarets. The large dance floor, which attracted not only single men and ladies-in-waiting but also many couples, turned into a vaudeville stage around midnight.

Troilo opened the dance restaurant in 1942, it remained his regular venue until 1955. He played from April, the time after carnival, until December, otherwise the programme changed.

The advertisement on the right lists Troilo, Rafael Canaro and a jazz act as well as numerous vaudeville acts, which were mostly shown around midnight.

The septet Octeto Tibidabo (number and name are right!!!), famous in the sixties, named itself after this famous Cabaret.

Members were Leopoldo Federico, Osvaldo Montes (Bandoneon), Enrique Marchetto (Contrabass), Atilio Stampone (Piano), Enrique Mario Francini, Mauricio Mise, Reynaldo Nichelen (Violin)

El Ocean Dancing


El Casanova

opened 1931. It was the home base of Demare.

El Avion

in La Boca, rather visited by sailors.


Tanzcafés or Confiterias Bailables

... in San Nicolas

there were nine Confiterias Bailables in the fifties: Domino, La Nobel, La Metro, La Cigalle, Monte Carlo, Picadilly, Sans Souci, Siglo XX, and Mi Club.

Clubs in the suburbs

Club Atlanta

It was ounded in 1904 in the Villa Crespo neighbourhood. Social, cultural, sports and a professional footballs team were based here. Around 1940, the organisers for the carnival brought D'Arienzo, Donato, Maffia, Pugliese, Juan Sánchez Gorio and Alberto Mancione on stage together with stars from film, theatre and radio.
Normally they danced to shellacs (=grabaciones).


After 1960


El Cañ0 14 - La catedral del Tango

Few places remained for tango in the sixties, this was certainly one of the most important, at least from the point of view of the music, because there was no more dancing.
El Caño 14, promoted by Troilo, changed venues three times and ended up being based in Recoleta.

From the beginning, in the rooms in the basement of Talcahuano (1967-1986), great musicians were on stage: Atilio Stamponi, Aníbal Troilo, Horacio Salgán, Ubaldo de Lío, Roberto Grela, Enrique Francini. They were joined by great singers: Roberto Goyeneche, Alberto Podestá, Raúl Lavié and later Rubén Juárez. Lucía Marcó, Stamponi's wife introduced the stars. The sessions began at 11 p.m. sharp and ended in the early hours of the morning. During the "breaks" the boys went to the Cuartito, the pizzeria next door.



Troilo and Goyeneche in the Cano 14 in 1971

Caño 14 was a commercial success and synonymous with tango for many years. You had to book in advance, it was almost always sold out.

Fun fact: The violinist Enrique Francini died of a heart attack in the middle of playing here on stage in August 1978.

In 1997 El Caño 14 was reopened in Recoleta by Gloria and Rodolfo Dinzel, the great tango dance couple and tango teachers. It was still considered the cathedral of tango, the great times were behind it.

El Viejo Almacén

(The old warehouse - the first lines of Sentimiento Gaucho).

In 1969, Edmundo Leonel Rivero transformed these rooms in San Telmo into a tango temple, and from that moment on El viejo almacén was the obligatory meeting place for the remaining greats of tango (Aníbal Troilo, Osvaldo Pugliese, Roberto Goyeneche) as well as great personalities who visited BA, such as King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofía of Spain or many a head of government.

El Viejo Almacén lasted until 1993, when this last bastion of the old tango had to close.

Nevertheless, tango shows have been staged in a new complex with restaurants and shops since 1996.


Das El viejo almacén 1970



Vor 1920

The academies


The academies were neither brothels nor dance halls. After 1870, they could be found in neighbourhoods like Barracas and Constitución and also in the city centre.



Lo de Hansen

founded in 1877 by German immigrant Juan Hansen on the frayed edge of the city in Palermo, this fine restaurant, where upper-class families stopped for dinner during the day, developed into a stage for the tango stars of the Guardia Viaja in the evening. In addition to Gardel - who did not sing tangos at the time - Firpo and Ángel Villoldo performed here.


He was allegedly no longer allowed to perform his milonga El Esquinazo because the visitors were banging away more and more wildly on everything they could grab and demolishing parts of the bar.


In 1912, the Lo de Hansen had to make way for a road.

Canaro recalls this early institution in his tango Tempos Viejos.
On the one hand, the film Los Muchachos de antes no usaban gomina celebrates the Lo de Hansen as an early dance establishment; on the other hand, Firpo insisted that there was no dancing there.

Lo de Vasca

At the Lo de Vasca, under the watchful eye of Carlos, "el Inglés", a "heavy" man, the husband of the owner, there was dancing every evening. Men paid three pesos an hour here, for women the entrance was free.


There was not only the dance hall, but also separés with prostitutes. The sons of the rich frequented here, many were closely connected to the world of jockeys and horse racing. Brawls and violence were the order of the day in these times, which still resembled the Wild West.

Legendary was the so-called Z-Club, an association of about 40 young rich people who regularly rented rooms at the Lo de Vasca, organised women of the lower class to join them and, as a contemporary reports, celebrated wild, orgiastic parties with tango music.

Among the musicians was the pianist Rosendo Medizábal, who played in the Lo de Vasca the first tango of which sheet music existed: El entrerriano.

In wistful lines, the milonga En lo de Laura, recorded by Angél D'Agostino in 1942, sings of the old times of this early tango legend.

Lo de Laura

In this luxurious place, known for its attractive women, people drank vermouth. There were dances for younger and older people.

The landlady, the legendary Laura, was an elegant, gold-robed, black-haired, distinguished matron whose presence also impressed the society at the Teatro Colón.

Laura's luxurious flat with canopy bed and lots of fur and furs was located behind the guest rooms.

Supposedly, most of Laura's wives were "sheltered" girls.

And supposedly the "first" tango, El Entrerriano, was premiered here.

The Pabellon de las Rosas

It was torn down in 1929.

For decades, the highlight of the tango season were the huge carnival festivals with thousands of dancers and orchestras with more then 30 musicians.

But the Bailes del Internado also had a legendary reputation before and after 1920. Internados were medical students who were in a year of practice after graduation. They choose Spring Day, 21 September, as their Students Day and thereby followed a french tradition. They celebrated all over the city center. They attracted attention with less than tasteful parades and comedy plays. The highlight of the celebrations were the Bailes del Internado.


Here you can find - in Spanish - a small thesis about the balls.Bailes del Internado


For the first ball on 21 September 1914, the graduates afforded themselves a first-rate temple of pleasure, the Palais de Glace (Eispalast). Angel D'Agostino sung about this building in the wunderfull tango of the same name.

From 1916 these balls took place in Pabellón de las Rosas .

Also this palace inspired a beautiful composition: Pabellón de las rosas, e.g. a vals by Juan D’Arienzo, 1935.

In 1924, the budding doctors held their legendary festival for the last time. It was the eleventh.




For the very first ball in 1914, the students invited the best tango combos of the time: Francisco Canaro and Roberto Firpo. They each had to compose a new tango.

In the following years, classics such as El internado, Derecho viejo or Rawson were written for the balls, but also pieces with ironic titles such as La muela careada (The carious tooth) or El amoníaco, which Fresedo also contributed.

In 1919, he penned El sexto for the sixth ball, and consequently the students were to enjoy El once at the 11th ball in 1924.



There was a real competition between the students of the different hospitals to see who could come up with the crudest pranks and worst jokes on the occasion of 'Students' Day'.

Francisco Canaro reports in his memoirs that the young men cut off the hands of the dead in the mortuary and then dressed up as ghosts to scare the women with the frozen body parts.

In 1924, disguised students surprised their rector in his sleep, causing him to shoot one of the troublemakers in terror.

After this tragic accident, the authorities banned 'Students' Day' and with it the Bailes del Internado. Thus El Once is the last tango composed for these balls.


was considered one of the most luxurious during its existence from 1911 to 1939.

The main building, a large English-style villa, was surrounded by gardens with lots of greenery with a large terrace where many of the aristocratic families used to dine.


The ballroom on the ground floor with a large chandelier with crystal chandeliers and large mirrors with wallpaper in between was the centre. To the side of it, separated by red velvet curtains, were the "reserved rooms".

The grandiose classic French cuisine, usually accompanied by good wines and champagne from Europe, was considered legendary. Carlos Gardel as well as the orchestras of Roberto Firpo, Canaro or Juan Maglio (Pacho) played here. It was demolished in 1929.

Tango in Conventillos

It took several years for the tango to reach the courtyards of tenement houses. In this heterogeneous little world, where there was usually one family per room, an atmosphere of work and decency prevailed. Tango was frowned upon at first, but slowly caught on when, at a wedding or a joint celebration, someone asked the musicians for a tanguito, which was then danced properly, without cortes and quebradas.



Tango life on Radio August 1945

CLARIN, August, 2nd, 1945

LS4 Radio Pueblo's Tango Cavalcade programme presents Miguel Caló with singer Raul Iriarte at 10:00 am.

Usually the orchestras played 30 minutes life.


At 10:30 on LR3 Radio Belgrano we find Francisco Canaro with Alberto Arenas and Guillermo Coral.


At 11:00 LR1 Radio El Mundo shone with Anibal Troilo / Floreal Ruiz + Alberto Marino.


Then you could choose between Ricardo Tanturi / Enrique Campos+ Roberto Videla on Radio El Mundo and Agustín Magaldi on Radio Belgrano.


After the 12 o'clock news, Radio El Mundo broadcast Tanturi, and for dessert Radio Belgrano served Francisco Canaro.


At 14.00 on LR6 Radio Mitre we find Tipica D'Alesandro with the Osvaldo Norton Jazz Orchestra.


At 15.00 on Radio Pueblo José García scurries out of the radio with his Grey Foxes.


16.00 in the afternoon: Roberto Rufino, who has just left Di Sarli, sings with an orchestra led by Atilio Bruni on Radio Belgrano.


Pugliese plays Alberto Morán + Roberto Chanel twice for a quarter of an hour on Radio El Mundo.


Then for the evening, listeners were treated to Ada Falcón (Radio Argentina), Alberto Castillo (Radio Belgrano). Osvaldo Fresedo (Radio Mundo)


The next day we continued with Juan D'Arienzo, Carlos Di Sarli, Rodolfo Biaggi.

Quelle: https://jantango.wordpress.com/category/orquestas-de-tango/page/8/