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The meaning of Tinta Roja...

posted Apr 12, 2014, 7:46 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Apr 16, 2014, 6:42 PM ]
A new milonga has recently opened up in Sydney called Tinta Roja. Tinta Roja means red ink in Spanish, and the dominant colour theme of the venue's interior is red. 

Here's a popular tango song by the same name, which has no doubt also inspired the name choice.

Red Ink (Tinta Roja)
lyrics by Cátulo Castillo
translated by Derrick del Pilar 

A big stone wall,1
red ink over yesterday’s grey,
the emotion
of your happy bricks
over my little alleyway
took a blot
and painted the corner
and that cop
who in the depths of night
walked the borders of his beat
like a badge…

And that lipstick-red mailbox
and the corner bar
where the Italian used to cry
over his distant blonde lover,
soaking himself in bon vin.2

What has become of my arrabal? 3
Who has stolen my childhood?
On what corner, moon of mine,
do you spill out your clear joy
like you used to?

Sidewalks that I have tread,
gangsters that now are gone—
under your cloudless satin sky
a little piece of my heart
whiles the night away.

Here's the song in Spanish...

Tinta roja
tinta roja en el gris del ayer,
tu emoción
de ladrillo feliz
sobre mi callejón
con un borrón
pintó la esquina
y al botón
que en el ancho de la noche
puso al filo de la ronda
como un broche…

Y aquel buzón carmín,
y aquel fondín
donde lloraba el tano
su rubio amor lejano
que mojaba con bon vin.

¿Dónde estará mi arrabal?
¿Quién se robó mi niñez?
¿En qué rincón, luna mía,
volcás como entonces
tu clara alegría?

Veredas que yo pisé,
malevos que ya no son—
bajo tu cielo de raso
trasnocha un pedazo
de mi corazón.

1 A stone wall (paredón) can be a big wall, a thick wall, a ruined stone wall, or the wall where the condemned are placed to face the firing squad. 
2 The Spanish original contains the French phrase “bon vin,” meaning “good wine,”
3 'arrabal'  - A low-income, working class suburb on the outskirts of  Buenos Aires. Some choose to translate it as “slum”,  but the English connotations of that word don’t have quite the right flavour. Most of the tangos have a fond attitude toward the neighborhoods they call arrabales.
image: sourced from
tinta roja tango

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