Tango Spanish

Tango Class

Tango Spanish: Survival Spanish for tango class

If you are going to Buenos Aires, you would find most tango classes are in Spanish, so some basic knowledge of Spanish would be essential for your learning.

 

In this blog post we will be focusing on asking questions in the class. However, you may wonder what if after asking the question, you can’t understand the Spanish explanation from the teachers?

 

The good news is that tango is a corporal activity, and  very often steps and techniques can be explained in body language and movement. But if you can’t ask the right question, the teachers wouldn’t know about your doubt and help you to work on it. So asking the right question is important for your learning, and it’ll help you to make the most out of the class instead of taking the questions with you back home.

 

Don’t know how to say the questions in Spanish? Don’t worry! We have a Youtube video to help you with the pronunciation.

video

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for Tango Class

 

To begin there are a few essential words you’d need to learn:

El paso (The step)

La secuencia (The sequence)

Marcar (To lead)

La técnica (The technique)

 

How to ask essential questions in Spanish in a tango class:

 

In the class we may be unclear about how to do a step or sequence, so we can ask:

 

¿Cómo se hace este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to do this step/this sequence?)

 

For example:  “¿Cómo se hace un boleo?

(How to do a boleo?)

 

For the leader they may want to know more about the leading, so they can ask the question:

¿Cómo se marca este paso/esta secuencia?

(How to lead this step/sequence?)

 

For example: ¿Cómo se marca un sandwich?

(How to lead a sandwich?)

 

Usually when the teachers teach a new step or sequence they would demonstrate, but if you didn’t get it and want to see it again, you can ask:

 

¿Podés mostrarme el paso/la secuencia, por favor?

(Would you show me the step/sequence, please?)

 

Sometimes we may take a private class so to receive more personalized suggestions on improving our technique, and you may ask the teacher:

¿Cómo puedo mejorar mi técnica/el paso/la secuencia?”

(How can I improve on my technique/the step/the sequence?)

 

If you get lost in a class or don’t understand the teaching, you can say:

No entiendo.”

(I don’t understand)

 

You may also ask the teacher to repeat the explanation by saying:

“¿Podés repetir, por favor?”

(Would you please repeat?)

 

Are you going to Buenos Aires soon? Book a Spanish class with our Argentine Spanish teachers to prepare for your tango trip! Our teachers are tangueras from Buenos Aires and will understand your Spanish need for tango.

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Also check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips” which contains many useful advices on going milongas, accommodation and transportation, staying safe and saving money!

Youtube video: Survival Spanish for milonga

 

Milonga

Tango Spanish: 5 Things you should never say in a milonga

Photo credit: (Flickr) Gobierno de la ciudad de Buenos Aires.

When we’re going to a milonga we all want to get along and have a good time, but in a Buenos Aires milonga there are certain things you should avoid saying at all cost. Some of these are related to milonga etiquette; others are some Spanish words which carry a double meaning-usually with sexual connotation. You may at best make yourself look funny, or at worse offensing a fellow tanguero/a unintentionally!

 

1.Commenting on your partner’s techniques in a milonga

 

 

Milonga is a place for people to dance socially for pleasure, but not a place for giving or receiving feedback on techniques. Try to restrain your urge on making a negative comment or giving feedback on your partner’s dance technique, or you may ruin one’s night. Save the feedback for class/practica time!

 

There’s a saying that in Buenos Aires, if a woman wants to prevent a man from inviting her to dance again, the most effective way is to teach him while dancing with him in a milonga.

 

If you feel uncomfortable dancing with your partner because of problems in techniques (e.g. a painful embrace, twisting your wrist, etc.), you may say “Gracias” which signals to him/her that you want to end the dance and leave the dance floor.

 

However, it is OK to express your appreciation if you enjoy dancing with your partner. You may say:

 

Baliás lindo/linda (You dance beautifully).

 

Una linda tanda (It’s a beautiful tanda).

 

Un placer (A pleasure).

 

Bailás muy bien (You dance very well)

 

2.Concha

 

Imagine the follow scenario: you have just come back from a holiday, and you have picked up a beautiful seashell on the beach. You want to give it to a milonguero as a gift, so you say to him: “Tengo una concha para vos.” (I have a seashell for you). I bet he would probably be shocked.

You may wonder why “concha” (seashell), a seemingly innocent word, should never be said inside (and outside) a milonga ? The reason is that “concha” carries the double meaning of “pussy” in Latin America.

The most appropriate to say it to your friend so he’d get the right idea is “Tengo un caracole de mar para vos.”

There was an old tango song composed in 1884 called “concha sucia” (dirty cunt) by the violinista Casimiro Alcorta. The lyrics was about a prostitute called Enriqueta, who was teased for being dirty and unpresentable. Juan Andrés Caruso later rewrote the lyrics and created a “clean version” : “Cara sucia” (Dirty face). Francisco Canaro recorded the song and become the version you would hear in milonga nowadays.

 

Listen to “Cara sucia” by Francisco Canaro and Roberto Maida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywGi1r8Po2U

 

3. Montar

This time you have just come back from another vacation in the countryside, and people ask what did you like most about the trip. You may want to say:

“Lo que me encantó fue montar a caballo” (What I loved the most was to ride the horse.)

Be aware of this expression as “montar” on one hand means “to ride”, but it also carries the meaning of “to mate”, for example:

El toro montó a la vaca. (The bull mounted the cow.)

So sometimes people with dirty mind may associate this to a sexual act…

 

4.  Acabar

In many Buenos Aires milongas it is common to have a tango class beforehand. Your friend may ask you: “¿Tomaste la clase antes de la milonga?” (Did you take the class before milonga?). And you may want to answer “Sí, no iba a ir pero acabé tomándola” (Yes, I wasn’t going but I ended up taking it).

Watch out for this expression! “Acabar” means “To complete, to finish”. However, it is also used as a slang for “having an orgasm” (el orgasmo). So for a dirty mind you would sound like having an orgasm while taking the class!

The better way to answer would be “Sí, la terminé.” (Yes, I completed it).

 

5. Coger

 

Taxi

 

At the end of the milonga other milongueros might asked how you are travelling back home, and if you answer “Voy a coger un taxi.” (I’m taking a taxi), they may look at you in a funny way.

 

Coger” in European Spanish means “take”. If you are saying “Cojo un taxi” in Spain it’s perfectly fine, and people will get what you mean in the correct way. But in Latin America “coger” is the slang word for “having sex”.

 

So the next time you are in Buenos Aires,  remember to use “tomar” instead of “coger”. Say “¡Voy a tomar un taxi”!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips

Want to learn more Spanish to prepare for your next trip to Buenos Aires? Book a Tango Spanish Skype class with our Argentine Spanish teachers, and check out our book “Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips”!

Lunfardos Tango

7 essential Lunfardos for tango (Part 2)

After our last Lunfardos blog post (7 Lunfardos for Tango (Part 1)), we have received a lot of requests for more Lunfardo words. So here you go our second collection of 7 essential Lunfardo words for tango, enjoy!

 

 

1. Metejón

Metejón means a crush or a crazy love.

“Milonga sentimental”, a popular milonga song, tells a story of a man who went to a milonga and thought about his lover that had left him. The lyrics describe how he was mad in love and crushed by her betrayal:

 

“Pero no es fácil cortarse

(But it is not easy to cut off)

los tientos de un metejón

(tentacles of a crush)

cuando están bien amarrados

(when they are tightly attached)

al palo del corazón”

(to the carcass of the heart)

 

Listen to “Milonga sentimental” by Orquesta Canaro and singer Ernesto Fama here:

 

2. Bombón

The Spanish word “bombón”, as you can probably guess, refers to candy, especially those that are coated with chocolate. In Argentina the word carries the double meaning of an attractive man or woman or a sweetheart.

In this beautiful song “bomboncito”, the lyricist poured out his heart and expressed without hesitation how his “bomboncito”, his little sweetie has taken his heart totally, and how her love does wonder to his life.

 

Dejame

(Let me)

que te diga despacito

(let me tell you slowly)

bomboncito… bomboncito…

(my little sweetie… my little sweetie…)

dueña de mi corazón.

(owner of my heart.)

 

Una vez más mi emoción

(Once again my excitement)

repetirá la canción

(will repeat the song)

milagro de tu amor

(miracle of your love)

y de mi amor

(and of my love.)

 

Listen here the song Bomboncito interpreted by Orquestra Salamanca and singer Armando Guerrico here

3. Afilar

The standard meaning of the word you would find in the dictionary is to “sharpen”, for example, Juan afila sus lápices (Juan sharpen his pencils).

However, in Lunfardo, the word takes on another meaning: to be in love (enamorar), or to court someone (cortejar).

Example: Pablo afila con esa mina pero no es muy serio.

(Pablo is courting that woman but he isn’t that serious.)

 

4. Botón

Botón” in Lunfardo means police or guard. Legend has it that Lunfardo is a secret language invented by the street gangs in Buenos Aires so that the “botón” would not understand what they are saying.

 

5. ¡Aire!

Aire means air, but if someone at Buenos Aires says to you in a milonga “¡Aire!”, he may actually be telling you to get out from there immediately, as “¡Aire!” in Lunfardo carries the meaning of “¡Afuera!, márchate, vete” (Leave now!).

An interesting fact here to note is that the literal meaning of “Buenos Aires” is “Good air”.

 

6. Amarguear

As you would probably know, mate is a big part of Argentine culture, and the Lunfardo word “Amarguear” refers to the action of taking a mate (tomar mate), and more precisely, mate without sugar, as the word is very likely formed based on the adjective “amargo” (bitter).

 

7. Chorro

Chorro” (or “choro”) means thief, and “chorear” is the verb form of the act (to steal).

The tango song “chorra” is about a man who was tricked by the lie of his lover, and in 6 months he went bankrupt and lost everything he earned from his hard work, so in the song, the man called his past lover a “chorra”:

 

En seis meses me fundiste el mercadito,

(In six months you bankrupted my little market,)

la casilla de la feria, la ganchera, el mostrador…

(the stand at the fair, the hooks, the counter…)

 

¡Chorra!

(Thief!)

Me robaste hasta el amor…”

(You even stole my love…)

 

Listen to this song by the Orquesta Alfredo de Angelis here

 

Interested in learning Spanish for a deeper understanding of tango culture? Check out our Tango Spanish course by our Argentine Spanish teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires!

Spanish words for tango lyrics

7 essential Spanish words for understanding tango lyrics

7 essential Spanish words for understanding tango lyrics

 

When you are dancing in milongas, have you ever wonder what those tango lyrics you are listening to are about? While understanding the whole Spanish lyrics often requires a near-native level of Spanish, which we may not be there yet, knowing some words that frequently appear in the lyrics would definitely help us to get a feeling of what the song is about, and makes it easier for us to get into the mood while dancing to it.  

In this blog post we have compiled a list of 7 common Spanish words in tango songs, each with its explanation in English, and an example of a tango song in which the word appears.

 

1. Amor

Amor” means love, and perhaps the central theme of all tango.

One representing tango song that contains this word is “Hasta Siempre Amor” (Farewell, love) (Music by Donato Racciatti; lyrics by Federico Silva). The song has been interpreted by many different orchestras, such as D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, and Salamanca.

When we listen to the song, we will hear the phrase “hasta siempre amor” being repeated many times in the lyrics, for example:

 

“Hasta siempre, amor,

(Farewell, love,)

cuando sueñes conmigo

(when you dream about me)

en las noches de frío

(on cold nights)

ya no estaré…”

(I will no longer be there…)1

 

Click here to listen to the version by orchestra Juan D’Arienzo and singer Jorge Valdez.

 

2. Abrazo

Abrazo” means embrace, the essential element of tango. The verb form of the word is “abrazar” (to hug).

We can find the word “abrazar” in “Volvamos a empezar” (Let’s start over again) (Music by Daniel Álvarez; lyrics by Eduardo Maradei):

 

“Mirá…

(Look…)

Nuestro cachorros como ayer

(Our kids (puppies) are just as before (yesterday))

Mirá…

(Look..)

Como me abrazan otra vez…”

(How they hug me once again…)2

 

Click here to listen to version by orchestra Alfredo de Angelis and singer Óscar Larroca.

 

3. Despedida

“La despedida” (Farewell) is a recurring theme in tango.

The song “Fueron tres años” (3 years have passed) (Music and lyrics by Juan Pablo Marín) describes the heartbreak of a man separating from his lover:

 

Aún tengo fuego en los labios,

(I still have fire on my lips)

del beso de despedida.

(from the farewell kiss.)

¿Cómo pensar que mentías

(How could I think you were lying)

si tus negros ojos lloraban por mí?”

(if your dark eyes were crying for me?)2

 

Click this link to listen to the version by orchestra Jorge Dragone and singer Argentino Ledesma.

 

4. Mentira

Mentira” means lie, and “mentir” is the verb form (to lie).

The song “Y todavía te quiero” (And still I love you, music by Luciano Leocata; lyrics by Abel Aznar) tells the torture and pain of a man being repeatedly deceived by the one that he loved:

 

“Sin embargo… ¿Por qué yo no grito   

(But … Why I don’t cry)

que es toda mentira, mentira tu amor

(it’s all lies, your love is a lie)

y por qué de tu amor necesito,

(and why I need your love,)

si en él sólo encuentro martirio y dolor?”

(if in it I only find martyrdom and pain?)1

 

Click here to listen to how the song was interpreted by orchestra Di Sarli and singer Jorge Falcon.

 

5. Corazón

Corazón (heart) is an important word in tango. How can you dance without your corazón?

In the song “Corazón ”, the lyricist Hector Marcó told a story via the lyrics how a man talked himself (his heart) to get over from a girl who had betrayed him:

 

“Corazón,

(Heart,)

no la llames

(don’t call to her)

ni le implores—

(don’t beg her for anything—)

que de tus amores

(from the ones you love)

nunca has merecido

(you have never deserved)

tanta humillación.”

(so much humiliation.)3

 

The song was written by Carlos Di Sarli, let’s listen to how his orchestra and singer Roberto Rufino interpreted the song (Click here).

 

6. Adios

Adios” means goodbye, another frequently appear topic in tango lyrics.

In “El adios” (Music by Maruja Pacheco Huergo), the lyricist Virgilio San Clemente wrote about the sorrow of parting from a lover:

 

“El sueño más feliz,

(The happiest dream,)

moría en el adiós

(died in the goodbye)

y el cielo para mí se oscureció

(for me, the sky became dark…)1

 

We have selected “El Adios” (The Goodbye) by orchestra Pugliese and singer Jorge Maciel for you, a powerful and sorrowful interpretation of the song (Click here to listen to the song).

 

7. Dolor

Many songwriters expressed via tango lyrics their different kinds of “dolor” (pain) in life: the pain of losing a lover; parting from their family or being betrayed.

In this song “Lejos de Buenos Aires” (Far from Buenos Aires, music by Alberto Suárez Villanueva), the lyricist Oscar Rubens wrote about the pain of an old person recalling what he had abandoned: his family, his girlfriend and everything back in his native city Buenos Aires in order to chase after his dream, and at the end feeling lonely and regretful of staying on a foreign land where nobody cares about him:

 

“Lejos de la gran ciudad

(Far from the great city)

que me ha visto florecer,

(that witnessed my flourishing)

en las calles más extrañas

(in these strange streets)

siento el alma oscurecer.

(I feel the darkening of my soul)

 

Nadie observa mi final,

(No one notices my ending)

ni le importa mi dolor,

(nor care about my pain,)

nadie quiere mi amistad,

(nobody wants my friendship,)

sólo estoy con mi amargor…”

(I am just alone with my bitterness…)2

 

Click here to listen to the interpretation of the song by orchestra Miguel Caló, singer Raúl Berón.

 

Interested in learning Spanish for tango? Check out our Tango Spanish Course, or get a copy of our book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips on Amazon!

 

 

References (Tango lyrics and translations)

The lyrics and translations of tango songs appear in this blog post were adapted from various online and published sources:

1. “Tango Lyrics page in Spanish with English translation” maintained by Alberto Paz: https://letrasdetango.wordpress.com/

2. “Tango words-a guide to tango lyrics with English translation Vol.1” by Manuel Garber: http://tangowords.com/

3. Poesía de gotán: The poetry of the tango”: https://poesiadegotan.com/2009/04/09/corazon-1939/

 

Tango Ronda

7 essential Spanish keywords you must know for tango

7 essential Spanish keywords you must know for tango

 

Tango is a dance which origin is Argentina, and therefore many keywords are in Spanish.

Learn the following 7 keywords which are often used, and improve your understanding of the dance!

 

1.    Cabeceo

In milonga people usually make an invitation for dance with cabeceo (eye signals) . A man or a lady can look at the person he/she wants to dance with. That person can accept it with a nod, or decline by looking away. This is a subtle form of invitation that avoids embarrassment from both sides if one doesn’t want to dance with the other.

 

2.    Cortina

“Cortina” means curtain. It refers to the non-tango music in between 2 tandas (sets of tango songs). It tells the dancers that they should stop dancing, and the men should escort the ladies back to their seats.

 

3.    Códigos

Códigos (codes) refer to a set of rules in milonga that everybody adheres to, such as performing cabeceo (use of eyes for invitation).

 

4.     Canyengue

Canyengue is an earlier style of dancing which was danced mainly in the early 1900s. It is still danced today but to a lesser extent.
You can view how canyengue is danced here.

 

5.   Tango Fantasía

 

In Spanish, “fantasía” means “fantasy”. But in tango, “Tango Fantasía” (or Tango Escenario) mean Stage Tango. It is usually danced in an open embrace with exaggerated movements like jumps, which are not usually done in milonga.

Watch here the performance of Mundial del Tango (World Championship of Tango) champion of tango escenario in 2016 here.

 

6.     Pista

“Pista” in Spanish means “floor”, and in Mundial del Tango it represents another category of the competition: Tango de Pista (salon tango). In contrast to tango escenario, participants need to compete as if they were dancing in milongas, and need to follow strict regulations, such as staying in the ronda (line of dance), and not lifting their legs higher than the knees.

Watch here the performance of champions of Tango de Pista of 2010: Sebastian Jimenez and María Ines Bogado here.

 

7.     Ronda

In Spanish, “ronda” means “round”. In tango, “ronda” refers to the line of dance, which are imaginary concentric lines on the dance floor. Couples should move in the counterclockwise direction in the ronda. Each couple should remain at a safe distance from the couple in front/behind them. The ronda ensures couples move on the dance floor in a predictable way, and prevent crashing into each other, especially in crowded milongas.

 

Want to learn more Spanish for tango? Take a Tango Spanish Skype class with our teachers who are tangueras from Buenos Aires!

Going to Buenos Aires soon? Check out our book Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips!

Tango Spanish and Buenos Aires Travel Tips