“I salute tango scholars, whose works ground my own. I learned about tango from a woman’s point of view while reading Julie Taylor’s Paper Tangos and Maria Savigliano’s Tango and the Political Economy of Passion and Angora Matta: A Tango Opera. Savigliano is an Argentine scholar who lives and works in the U. S. I was comparably instructed in tango machismo by Eduardo Archetti’s Masculinities: Football, Polo, and the Tango in Argentina. Then there is the late Simon Collier’s indispensable The Life, Music, and Times of Carlos Gardel, Maria Susana Azzi’s classic Antropologia del tango, and the superb collaboration of Azzi with Collier, Le Gran Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla.
There are books on jazz and the blues, but nothing compares with the passion and precision that Argentine and Uruguayan scholars devote to writing about tango. Classics in this field are many, but especially inspiring were Oscar del Priore’s El tango: De Villoldo a Piazzolla y despues; Tomas de Lara and Ines Leonilda Roncetti de Panti’s, El tema del tango en la literatura argentina. Sergio Pujol’s Jazz al sur and Historia del baile; Alejandro Frigerio’s Cultura negra en el cono sur; and Vicente Rossi’s Cosas de negros. We add to that list an important work by American scholar George Reid Andrews, The Afro-Argentines of Buenos Aires 1800-1900. Finally, I am specially indebted to key works by Argentine experts on tango: Carlos Vega, Horacio Salas, Jose Gobello, Jorge Novati and Ines Cuello, Estela dos Santos, and Horacio Ferrer.
Parts of these chapters were written on the tables of Jean Michel Gamme and Jean-Pierre Vuillermet’s Union League Cafe in New Haven. I was equally welcome to write at Caffe Adulis, where the three Eritrean brother-owners — Sahle, Fiere, and Gideon Ghebreyesus — even went so far as to twist dials to cast extra light on my table. Similar courtesies were extended by Jeff Horton at Scoozie’s Restaurant and John Clark at Zinc. All of these restaurants are in New Haven.
Chris Munnelly backed this whole project since 1995. He generously found time to help out on field trips to Punta del Este, in Uruguay; Trinidad, in Paraguay; and Villa Urquiza in Buenos Aires. I thank him for spectacular colleagueship.
Finally, I thank the tangueros and milongueros who patiently sat down for long interviews about the meaning and aesthetics of their art. The ultimate custodian of the clarity of this text is David Frankel, who edited this book, and protected its spirit, just as he did with an earlier book I wrote on black altars. Che, macanudos y macanudas, mil gracias.
ROBERT FARRIS THOMPSON
February 14, 2005
-Excerpt courtesy of Google Books, “Tango: The Art History of Love,” by Robert Farris Thompson, 2010. (top) “Happy International Cat Day! Bugsy is catching up with Robert Farris Thompson’s Tango: The Art History of Love.” Image courtesy of Twitter, @nypldance, New York Public Library Dance Division, August 8, 2019