principio de siglo
There was a time, back in the early 1900s, when in Europe there was a
saying, "as rich an Argentinian" to allude to a man of unimaginable
Indeed, at the time, Argentina had one of the most flourishing economies
of all nations on earth, a country that, by the end of the century, had
unified its territory, evicted the Indians from the vast extensions of
land they had occupied and, thanks to large scale ranching and grain cultivation,
maintained a prosperous commerce with the Old Continent.
Coinciding with this period of bonanza, Buenos Aires, which had been a
small port town in 1869, with 180,000 inhabitants, had become a populated
and opulent metropolis. In 1914, a million and a half people lived within
its expanding city limits; by 1922, 6,800 private automobiles circulated
throughout its streets and a thriving bourgeoisie impelled the development
and decking out of the city, converting it into the Southern Paris.
On the outskirts, "little convents" had proliferated to offer
shelter to immigrant families, but sprouting up in the city centre were
hotels and public buildings of French style architecture, grand avenues,
parks, zoos... everything was new and everything spoke of prosperity and,
also, of pride and of the licit desire to occupy a pre-eminent place in
the world. During that epoch, the Columbus Theatre was built, embodying
the world's largest opera building, and the construction of the subway
began, representing the first underground railway in Central and South
America until that of Mexico appeared in the 60s. In the flourishing Buenos
Aires of the early XX century, the Tango was a dance that had already
travelled to Europe and returned with a safe-conduct pass in its pocket,
permitting its admittance into the salons of the city centre. At the same
time, the elite felt a necessity to distinguish their tango from that
other one from the outskirts and the little convents, from the popular
tango danced in neighbourhoods such as Boca del Riachuelo, Avellaneda,
Corrales Viejos, Pueblo de Ranas... and they took it to expensive locals,
and established it within the framework of the cabarets which, for decades,
were to become the perfect stage upon which to sing of the misfortunes
of percantas, milonguitas, pebetas, papusas, bacanes, otarios or cafishos.
today they call you milonguita,
flower of luxury and of pleasure,
flower of night and cabaret.
hoy te llaman milonguita,
flor de lujo y de placer,
flor de noche y cabaret.