The “compadrito” took his guitar everywhere and composed songs in “pulperias”, places where people gathered to drink alcohol which generally were the scenario of brutal fights. The “compadrito” was a petty man, who lived with prostitutes, exerting all kinds of crimes, always having trouble with the police and usually without any money. His only power was his physical strength and he was often involved in fights and trouble all around.
As we see, the atmosphere surrounding tango music was marginal and dirty, full of characters that lived outside the law. Condemned by the church and banned by police for inciting scandal and disturbances, tango was associated with lust, “unholy” fun, alcohol and dancing. It was looked upon as “vulgar” by the more conservative social strata, socially marginalized for seeking sensuality and pleasure. This led to tango being forbidden and persecuted; the prohibition forced people to dance in hidden places and that also goes to show why tango is still considered today to have such a mystical, passionate aura about it.
Amongst the popular songs of the golden age of tango that you can find are: “Tango de la casera”, “Andate a la recoleta”, “Dame la lata”, “Don Juan, el taita del barrio” and “El porteñito”. Tango’s origins were near the shores, in poorer areas near the ports, and the main characters were the people who lived in these neighborhoods. As often happens in history, authentic art movements start amongst the working, marginal classes, with people who find a way to escape their ordinary lives that use their imagination in order to create new environments.
The feelings of these people are the ones that have historically created new artistic waves. As we know, the bourgeois or upper classes have systematically denied and put down these strong artistic manifestations, even if they later on ended becoming interested in them.