The 40’s as a consequence

Photo by Bassel Hamieh

The decades of 40 and 50 are known as the Golden Age of Tango. A time where through the radio and on the neighborhoods the tango multiplied and became present in the daily life of the city. Beyond the popularization of the music it was also a time of dissemination and creation of some of the most well-known and important themes in the history of tango. In order to better understand how tango was present in the lives of people of Buenos Aires, we also must understand the previous decades (especially the 1930s) and the socio-political context of the year 43. For now we will focus on the decade of 40, or as we will call it: the sung decade of Tango.

If we separate it chronologically, each decade is always a consequence of the previous one. If we think that the milongueros themes like Tinta Verde and Comme il Faut by Troilo were engraved by the seal Odeon in 1938; And that Fresedo, Laurenz, Donato, Demare, Canaro, Lomuto had their first songs recorded in the same period. We understand that the great tango orchestras began to record their greatest songs even before the 40s. Carlos Di Sarli had also recorded in 1928 his first songs but they become strong in 1939/40 when Rufino started to collaborate with him. Pugliese and De Angelis in 1943 record their first songs. D’arienzo also became very strong by 1934 with his performance at the Cabaret Chantecler and was responsible for drawing the style of the 40s, very rhythmical, energetic and vibrant.

The decade of the 40s, was also a period of great singers and poets where some of the most remarkable collaborations arise. These collaborations were so important that they became a symbol of this Era making evident the impact and importance of the singers. The strength of these singers was such in tango during the 40s that we can even call it the sung decades of tango. This is so relevant for the history of tango that we can even relate the impact of the singers and the orquestras such as Troilo and Fiorentino; Pugliese and Moran; Pugliese and Chanel; Caló and Veron; D’Arienzo and Maure; D’Arienzo and Echague; D’Arienzo and Laborde; D’Agostino and Vargas; D’angelis and Floreal; D’angelis and Matel; Di Sarli and Rufino; Tanturi and Castillo and finally Fresedo with Ruiz and with Serpa. At this moment Manzi, the Exposito brothers and Jose Maria Contursi were the poets who stood out the most. It was too much talented together!

“Tango was first music, after dance and after song” Horacio Ferrer

With all these monsters with 15 years of career the explosion on the 40 is impressive. This artistic development combined with the great competition of the Odeon and Victor labels stimulated even more the diffusion of Tango. Half of these great artists belonged to each label and as a result begins a great propagation of the orchestras in radio programs. Radio shows like “EL Glostora Tango Club”, “Ronda de Ases”, Ronda “Musical de Las Americas”, “Noches de Federal” among others were associated with sponsors that made the tango more and more popular. To the Glostora Tango Club was sponsored by the hair fixer Glostora, the Ronda de Ases by Filtox mouthpieces and even if it seems a lie, Coca Cola con la orquesta estable de Radio el Mundo was the Typical Coca Cola Orchestra.

Another important factors were the cinema and the arrival of Peronism making the country live a very effervescent social climate. The Radio, the Cinema and the recordings had their valve of escape in the Neighborhood Clubs. People listened to songs on Radio and the Saturdays were the most expected days to dance with live orchestras. It was common to have 3 or 4 orchestras playing separated only by a couple blocks.

Even with so much success, the 40’s also had its difficulties. It was not the first time Tango had fought for its place in the culture of the city. In the 20s was with the Charleston, with Foxtrot in the 30s and the 40s was with the censorship. The censorship arises from a government order from 43 onwards to restore the language. With this goal of “cleaning” the language, songs like “El Ciruja” become “El Recolector”, “Los Dopados” was “Los Mareados” and ” Tal vez será mi alcohol ” today is ” Tal vez será tu voz “. And it was wanted to change the “vos” by “tu” and “vos sos” by “tu eres” and etc. But Tango is something else …

“Es la mano de papá firme y segura para cruzar la calle cuando escuchas a D´Arienzo…Es la sonrisa de mamá cuando suena rayito por De Angelis… Las pilchas que se preparan para ir a la milonga cuando Troilo toca Milongueando En El 40….Es pensar en un amor perdido cuando Franchini hace la introducción de jamás retornaras en la orquesta de Calo… Es ver un cuadro con paisaje con nido gaucho de Di Sarli….Es acordarse de cuando desfilábamos en el colegio en una fiesta patria si Biagi arranca con Belgica….”

That’s Tango! And even with so much against it, today is what it is! It is music, a dance a culture that moves us around the big globe.

TANGO SERIES is a collaboration with Cacho Capatto an expert on tango and Buenos Aires history. Subscribe to our NEWSLETTER here 


Published by Sebastian & Joana

Argentine Tango

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