2.12.09

The Creole Arabesque (El firulete criollo)

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El firulete (meaning "The Creole Arabesque") is a famous tango-milonga today. Its lyrics were conceived by Rodolfo Taboada, with music composed by Mariano Mores in 1956. In those days almost everyone in Buenos Aires was crazy dancing the twist. But this situation was interrupted by the unforgettable voice of Julio Sosa, who, in 1964, sang El firulete as nobody else had done it before him. The impact was enormous and the Uruguayan singer, who was himself a real phenomenon, soon brought everybody back to the native culture of Rio de la Plata. Then porteños finally embraced and began to dance tango once again (Alberto Paz, "El firulete," Planet Tango, 22 May 2006).
In Argentina and Uruguay, firuletes refer above all to ornaments. Firulete is a typically Creole arabesque or capricious painted line used in the popular art of fileteado (the art of drawing and painting thin lines that look like threads). A firulete is also a sensuous kind of movement or positioning that a couple usually executes as dances tango and which involves the intertwining of the dancers' legs in a highly sensuous manner. The best dancers can perform all kinds of firuletes in order to prove their capacity as such and also to show themselves off.

THE CREOLE ARABESQUE (El firulete)
after Sosa's 1964 version; my English translation

Who was the peculiar insect
that told you, hey kid,
that the time of the arabesque is gone?
Even if are played
merengues and congas
it’s always good time for a milonga.

Just let some moron
say no matter what,
and shake him your firulete,
this arabesque which in our soul
the milonga has embroidered.
It’s the Creole rhythm and that's it.

But listen, watch out,
pay a lot of attention
and now confess if there is anything
like this swaggering beat.

Tell us, on God’s name, whether this
peppery and sweet beat
does not bubble under your skin
and makes you far more loving.

But listen... ha, ha... watch out,
pay a lot of attention
And now tell us whether this beat
isn't an exuberant carnation;
it's the carnation, the balcony,
it's the percale, the suburb,
the back alley, and it's the mad gyration
of some old violent love
.


Twice celebrated: The firulete, acrylic by Muscia (Otras Artes, 2007)

See the original lyrics of the tango in porteño slang (lunfardo).

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