Tango Negro

Juan Carlos Cáceres – Tango Negro

Had the pleasure of watching Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango and definitely encourage others to do the same, especially those interested in the African origins of Argentine music. The documentary does a good job of explaining the central role of African rhythms, drumming, and dancing in the creation of Tango. It also tells the story of the African presence in a country that prides itself in its whiteness, often avoiding conversation of the erasure of the indigenous and African populations.

Juan Carlos Cáceres was essential to the documentary (directed by Dom Pedro), providing a wealth of knowledge on the undeniable African roots of Tango. Take a listen to his song, Tango Negro (lyrics below)

Tango Negro

Tango negro, tango negro,
te fuiste sin avisar,
los gringos fueron cambiando
tu manera de bailar.

Tango negro, tango negro,
el amo se fue por mar,
se acabaron los candombes
en el barrio de Monserrat.

Más tarde fueron saliendo
en comparsas de carnaval.
pero el rito se fue perdiendo
al morirse Baltasar.

Mandingas, Congos y Minas
repiten en el compás,
los toques de sus abuelos:
borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

Borocotó, borocotó borocotó,
borocotó borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

Tango negro, tango negro,
la cosa se puso mal,
no hay más gauchos mazorqueros
y Manuelita que ya no está.

Tango negro, tango negro,
los tambores no suenan más,
los reyes están de luto
ya nadie los va a aclamar.

Black Tango (English Translation 1)

Black tango, black tango,
you left without a warning,
the gringos started to change
your way of dancing

Black tango, black tango,
the master left by sea,
came the end of candombes
in the Monserrat district.

Later on they started to come out
in costumed groups of carnival
but the ritual was disappearing
with the death of Baltasar.

Mandingas, Congos, and Minas
repeat in their rythm,
the sounds of their ancestors
borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

Borocotó, borocotó, borocotó,
borocotó, borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

Tango negro, tango negro,
the situation turned bad,
there are no more despotic gauchos
or Manuelita who is also gone.

Black tango, black tango,
the drums no longer sound
the kings are deep in mourning
and they’ll no longer get any applause

Black Tango (English Translation 2)

Black Tango, black tango
You left without a warning,
The ‘gringos’ gradually changed
the manner of your dancing.
Black Tango, black tango,
The Owner went away by sea
the candombes came to an end
In the neighborhood of Monserrat.

In time they still came out
for Comparsas or Carnaval,
but the ritual was forgotten
after the dying of Baltasar.
Mandinga, Congos and Broads
now move to the beat
of their grandparents’ sounds:
borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

borocotó, borocotó, borocotó,
borocotó, borocotó, borocotó, chas, chas.

Black tango, black tango,
everything went all wrong.
Gone are the ‘mazorquero’ gauchos,
and Manuelita is now long gone.
Black tango, black tango
the drums are heard no more,
and the Kings are deep in mourning
that they’ll no longer get any applause.

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