Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Small House for a Big Star

     In 1935, Carlos Gardel found a tragic death in Medellín, Colombia.  This event scarred the city and its people forever.  I think Colombians always appreciated Tango, but the sadness of having a star die on your land has significant consequences.  Tango grew on us and gained a place in our culture.  I remember, growing up in Colombia, seeing tango dancers during Festivals and Ferias. That is how I know that paisas share with Argentineans a deep passion for this music.  Therefore, my trip to Buenos Aires would be truly incomplete without a visit to what it was the home of one of the greatest Tango singers of all times.     
     Carlos Gardel grew up in Abasto, which at the time was known as an Italian immigrants’ neighborhood.  As soon as I arrived, I noticed the house is not as big or as fancy as other houses from the time.  It looked rather simple. I was hoping for a guided tour.  My understanding was that they had one once a day.  The receptionist, however, politely declined my request.  She indicated where to start, and told me everything was well explained. If I still had questions, she would call the guide for me.  Ok… negative points for them there.  On the other hand, the museum was free that day, and I was eager to start.
     I learned the house differs from others because it has been divided to make two homes.  It seems this transformation was not uncommon at the time due to the need to accommodate Buenos Aires’ growing population.  The tour starts where the rooms used to be.  There are three different rooms to explain Gardel’s life and death, his influence on radio and later on cinema.  My visit was pleasant, and the absence of great architecture and fancy furniture was enticing.  This exhibit does not talk about money and fame.  Instead, it talks about a family’s humble origins.  It tells about the struggles of a single mother raising a son in a country that was not her own.  It is a story we are all familiar with:  The story of a talented child who, despite the difficulties, grows up to go as far….. As far as the stars!

Random/ Interesting Things I Learned During My Visit

-          Gardel was born in France, and he spent part of his life in Uruguay.
-          He was a singer, but he also knew how to play the guitar.
-          At the beginning of his career, Gardel sang on a duet with one of his friends.
-          On October 6th, 1933, Gardel sang for the first, and last time, in the Uruguayan radio.  The repertoire included the Pasillo Colombiano Flores Negras.
-          Gardel did not like flying.
-          The second airplane involved in the accident was called “El Manizales”.


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