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La Cumparsita...first dance...last song...

posted Aug 26, 2014, 4:00 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Aug 27, 2014, 10:55 PM ]

One of the favourite parts of my work as tango teacher is preparing brides and grooms for their wedding dances!  Due to Argentine tango being the ultimate dance of romance and connection, the tango's popularity as a bridal dance is growing fast in Sydney.

None of my students have yet chosen La Cumparsita as their wedding dance song, but did you know that in Turkish culture it is the traditional song for the wedding dance? 

In the following article you can find out more about La Cumparsita; traditionally the first dance at Turkish weddings, and the last dance at Milongas. 


La Cumparsita… first dance… last song…
By Denizko | First published in Gancho on 1  July, 2014

Have you ever heard that first dance of the couples in Turkish weddings is danced to La Cumparsita? Really, no kidding! It is not a new habit, it is one of the oldest clichés of Turkish weddings. It is not because all Turkish people are great tango dancers nor everyone is in love with tango. In most cases couples even don’t know that it is a tango-song Then why is it? I have no idea and my little research also did not help me to find any reason. At the end this is the reality of life. Newly married couples come to the wedding party, they cut the cake together and do their first dance with La Cumparsita, embracing each other and swinging from one side to other (looks more like a teenage dance than tango).

And on the other hand this song is played as the last (sometimes first) song of the milonga in many milongas all over the world. For the first time many Djs silently agreed to play this song as the last one of a milonga. What is so special about this song?

When we look at the history, we see that this song was written by a group of architect students (some resources say one student) in Uruguay as a march for the carnival celebrations (1915-1916). Then it had been modified many times by different musicians and turned into a tango song. Lyrics were written in 1924 and talk about a heart breaking break-up story.


This can be the reason why it is played as last song, it is a good-bye! But why in the wedding and why first song, then? Once I read in a blog that first your heart should be broken then you start to dance tango. We can say that Turkish people are quite emotional and melancholic people. Even though, in weddings they mainly use the instrumental version (and 90% do not understand the Spanish lyrics), they may keep inside a feeling like “our first tango (!) should be the last heart-breaking”. Can it be? Why not?


Many musicians made arrangements and recorded this song. Juan Carlos Legido wrote in his book, “La orilla oriental del tango”, it is… a real phenomenon, that maybe we do not need many words to explain it because it comes from the crowds’ hearts, that felt touched by the simple and clear texture of its melody", while A. Piazzola said La Cumparsita was the worst of all tangos…the most awfully poor in the world…" (and he recorded it 4 times).

It was also used in many movies, as a soundtrack, in cartoons (Tom & Jerry) and it was even played in Sydney Olympic Games 2000. It should be considered the ‘first’ and special song!

Like it or not, we should do justice to this widely recognized song. It was one of the first milestone-songs in tango history and culture and still continues to be one.

p.s.: I love La Cumparsita and really enjoy listening to its different versions. Here is one of them. Enjoy!