Surrealism and Tango

The Surrealism and Tango project makes use of images to go to the origins of tango: A dance danced only between men around 1890 in the whorehouses on the suburbs of Buenos Aires. Manhood was there of extreme importance and the only women who could come close were the european prostitutes working there. Those women copied that tango, without lyrics, to dance it between themselves. Both groups could only exist by that "abscence" that is the essence of the genre.
Jorge Luís Borges says: "Tango, has an infamous origin that can be felt." That origin is law, the law of courage; that gangster pride that prises the mother, but despises any woman's love and doesn't respect any authority.

Cerrame el ventanal, que quema el sol, su lento caracol de sueño; ¿no ves que vengo de un país, que está dormido, siempre gris, tras el alcohol? ("Close the window for me, the sun is burning, its slow snail of dream; can't you see I come from a country that is asleep, always gray, always behind alcohol?") say the lyrics from La última curda, written by Cátulo Castillo.

The sun attacking a mythology of the night, attacking a men only lodge that sings deceipt with a dark voice.

Primero hay que saber sufrir, después amar, después partir y al fin andar sin pensamiento ("First you have to learn how to suffer, then love, then leave and at the end walk without thought") says Virgilio Expósito in Naranjo en Flor and his verses only confirm again the sadomasochism in tango. Nothing can tempt the unbeliever, neither love, nor country or intellect. But then again the contradiction is present in this brown river: Almost 80% of all tango lyrics talk about love.

Tango Cabaret Group paints his scenes with this material. Surrealism is deep inside the genre. From Carlos Gardel's origins and his "sexuality" to the repudiation Piazzolla had to suffer, nothing holds the permanent truth. Because tango is feeling, as the popular expression goes, "Tango is a feeling that is danced", and there is nothing more ambiguous than a feeling.

Argentinian director Pino Solanas, in Tangos, the Exile of Gardel, was right when showing tango being danced in hazy corners, like out of a dream. And with the same fanciful psychic automatism he puts together two argentinian myths having a mate: Carlos Gardel and General San Martin (together with Simon Bolivar one of America freedom fighters).

Tango Cabaret Group works in a similar way when makes XI century persian poet Omar Khayyam sing tango; or when the same actor and singer plays a pimp and immediately afterwards a french madame in Buenos Aires.

In the show artists like Salvador Dalí, Marquis de Sade or Frida Khalo make an appearance. They have other origins, but they are very close to tango because of their provocative work and because they were and still are condemned by the establishment. At the same time that André Breton and his stunned visionary friends were working on the Surrealist Manifesto in Paris, tango was forbidden in Buenos Aires for being a lecherous dance.

Tango Cabaret Group lyrics are far from the tango stereotype and dive into today issues like religious fanatism or emotional intelligence. That's why the connection between surrealism and tango is not a whimsical one, it defines the band's esthetics and ethic.

 

Horacio Ladrón de Guevara, June 2001

< Back to the Home
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.