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El vino triste

Alcohol is a central theme in tango, sometimes as celebration, but more often as a salve for the easing of pain or a draught for the drowning of sorrows. Nostalgias is a well-known example. But for full-out alcoholism, with no end or cure in prospect, it would be hard to match El vino triste . One must dance or listen to it with empathy and a cathartic attitude. And a hint of amusement, perhaps, at its over-the-topness. At Milonga Falucho Brooklyn/Café Argentino, John recited; Florencia Borgnia and Marcos Dario Pereira taught the pre- milonga class and performed; live music was by Alejo de los Reyes (guitar) and Maurizio Najt (piano). Renée hosted and dejayed.      El vino triste (1939) Letra de Manuel Romero Música de Juan D’Arienzo   Sad Wine (1939) Lyrics by Manuel Romero, trans. J. Osburn Music by Juan D’Arienzo   Dicen los amigos que mi vino es triste, que no tengo aguante ya para el licor, que soy un maleta
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Danza maligna

Tango has been compared to vampirism in its nocturnal practices, and more than one popular representation has evoked the danse macabre. It has adherents as a religion does, and there is little point denying its cultish aspect. It is famously addictive. Danza maligna captures such feelings and more, musically and lyrically. At Café Argentina, Milonga Falucho celebrated the summer season with John's recitation, music by Maurizio Najt on keyboard and Juan Carlos Arias on bandoneón (to which Danza maligna is something of a hymn), and a dance show by Andres Bravo and Sarita Apel. Renée hosted and dejayeed.  Danza maligna (1929) Letra de Claudio Frollo Música de Fernando Randle   Dance Malignant (1929) Lyrics by Claudio Frollo, trans. J. Osburn Music by Fernando Randle   Se arrastran los compases compadrones Del tango que se encoge y que se estira, Su música doliente pareciera Sentir que una amenaza se aproxima


Ventarrón is in a line of guapos and posturers who are legends at home but move on in search of fortune and social status, then find it impossible to return, either because they were beaten by the world or achieved a success that alienates them from their roots. Of the latter, the figure celebrated in Bailarín compradito is iconic. The title character of Ventarrón is emblematic of the former. In the event at Café Argentino, John recited, followed by dancing to the original Gardel recording. Argentina's national day was marked along with the birthday of bandoneón player Leandro Ragusa, who performed with Pablo Cafici (piano) and Sergio Reyes (violin). Mariano Logiudice taught the class, and host Renée deejayed.   Ventarrón (1933) Letra de José Horacio Staffolani Música de Pedro Maffia     Ventarrón (1933) Lyrics by José Horacio Staffolani, trans. J. Osburn Music by Pedro Maffia   Por su fama, por su estampa. Sos el malevo menta


Whirlwinds are, at least in English, an enduring if not timeworn metaphor. There are whirlwind romances. Evildoers sow the wind and reap them. Strong personalities enter the room like them. They can be dust devils or waterspouts or carry Dorothy to Oz. In Spanish, the same word , remolino, applies to a maelstrom as well as to the atmospheric variety (the reference to “este viento” puts that meaning aside in these lyrics). John recited, deejay Meg Farrell began the next tanda with the Orquesta Francini-Pontier version, and Los Chulos (Carlita Domingue and Chulo Suffino) followed later in the evening with the dance show. Remolino (1946) Letra de José Rótulo Música de Alfredo De Angelis   Whirlwind (1946) Lyrics by José Rótulo, trans. J. Osburn Music by Alfredo De Angelis   Vivo sin saber cómo puedo resistir Esta fiebre que se aferra a tu querer. Son remolinos con tu nombre y mi locura, Co

Naranjo en flor

Homero and Virgilio Expósito were twenty-two and sixteen years old when their first hit, the tango Farol, was recorded. A few years later, Naranjo en flor was picked up by a flurry of orquestas, including the great Anibal Troilo's ( Cien tangos fundamentales, del Priore and Amuchástegui, BA, 1998). It is a classic song of youth, love, and the acquisition of wisdom. With spring approaching, its images fit the mood at Esquina de Falucho at Café Argentino. John recited, and the Troilo version was danced to. Carlos Urrego Gaviria deejayed and taught the pre-milonga class with Renée. Emilio Teubal (keyboard) and Leandro Ragusa (bandoneón) played the live tandas, Ragusa's farewell to New York before returning to Buenos Aires. Naranjo en flor (1944) Letra de Homero Expósito Musica de Virgilio Expósito   Orange Tree in Bloom (1944) Lyrics by Homero Expósito, trans. J. Osburn Music by Virgilio Expósito   Era más blanda

Esta noche de luna

One may be forgiven for thinking that love is always tragic in tango. The letras are full of bitter invective, inconsolable loss, heartbreak unto death. But there are conventional love songs too, that woo, celebrate amor, gush over the loved one. Falucho celebrated love, friendship, and a birthday on the day after Valentine’s Day with this distinctly untragic confession of love. John recited, the singer Carlos Habiague (whose birthday it was) performed the original, Jack Hanley dejayeed and co-taught the dance class with Renée. Esta noche de luna (1943) Letra de Héctor Marcó Música de José Garcia/Graciano Gómez   This Moonlit Night (1943) Lyrics by Héctor Marcó, trans. J. Osburn Music by José Garcia/Graciano Gómez   Acercate a mi Y oirás mi corazón Contento latir Como un brujo reloj. La noche es azul, Convida a sonar, Ya el cielo ha encendido Su faro major. Si un


There is an upped excitement in the milonga when Mandria comes on, something dramatic in the music, even tragic. Indeed, it tells a primal tale and, consistent with the gaucho culture it portrays, a macho one, of a duel over some unspoken act on the part of a good-for-nothing man involving a woman. Sensibilities have changed, but still it pulls us into the dance. John recited his English version for Milonga Falucho's sixth anniversary at Café Argentino, followed by dancing to a live performance of the song by the guest singer, El Rey from Buenos Aires. Fresh from the premiere of Souls of Tango , Analia Carreño and Luis Ramirez danced a virtuoso show, and Ilene Marder deejayed. Mandria (1926) Letra de Francisco Brancatti/Juan Velich Música de Juan Rodríguez   No Good (1926) Lyrics: Francisco Brancatti/Juan Velich, trans. J. Osburn Music: Juan Rodrîg