By Canaro, Battistella, Charlo, 1912

Argentine tango London | Pinta Brava spacer_small

Pinta Brava. Fiery, sexy, arrogant, in your face. A volcano, an earthquake. A real latin girl who will haunt your nights and won’t be forgotten that easily. Hold your breadth…

The story behind Pinta Brava

Pinta Brava is a young girl with big dreams. She quits being a maid, leaves her family and moves to downtown Buenos Aires. There, she hopes to earn a better living and escape the poverty that she’s known since childhood. Once in Buenos Aires, she soon becomes a regular at milongas where she mingles with the poor, the thugs and the ‘Niños Bien’, the wealthy sons of society families. She hopes that in a milonga, she’ll meet people, get an opportunity to escape her fate and gain some independence. How she ends up marrying a wannabe thug, a good for nothing, nobody knows, but she sure lives to regret her choice.

Pinta Brava is most likely one of the first tangos composed by Francisco Canaro, violinist, leader and composer (Nov. 26, 1888 – Dec. 14, 1964). Canaro’s orchestra is one of the most prolific and famous orchestras in the history of tango. A legend.

Who knows, Pinta Brava might have existed or the song might have been inspired by several girls. One thing is certain though, it is based on real facts – it doesn’t say: a cop, but the cop, a dead end, but the dead end and a crazy guy but the crazy guy. What makes this tango fascinating is its use of ‘lunfardo’ words, the slang born in Buenos Aires, and of other colourful expressions. ‘Mas pelada que Alvear’ is a reference to Argentina’s president, Alvear who was mocked for his baldness. ‘Meter la mula’ is a humorous way to say ‘to play tricks’, and comes from certain merchants who, in an attempt to overcharge for their goods, cunningly placed the leg of their mule on the scale.


This song has been translated in collaboration by Tanguito, Argentine Tango Academy in London and María Cecilia Perna, Spanish teacher and milonguera in Buenos Aires.

We hope you enjoy this translation. If you have any comments, don’t hesitate to drop either of us a line.

Nathalie, Tanguito & María Cecilia Perna ([email protected])

The music

The lyrics

Quién te juna, quién te embroca,
Pinta brava presumida,
pa’ largarte por Florida
como un Ford a patinar.

No manyás, che pelandruna,
que te vende desde lejos
esa piel de zorro viejo
más pelada que Alvear.

Despitá, no seas chitrula,
que te está enfocando el cana
no vengas buscando lana
con la raca que tenés.

Se te manya el expediente,
hasta el modo en que patinas,
vos podrás vender sardinas
pero amor, ¡ni lo soñes!

Pinta brava,
no te olvides del pasado
cuando ibas al mercado
a comprar el stokafish.

te saliste de sirvienta
para ser, al fin de cuenta,
Pinta Brava una infeliz.

El dorima que te echaste,
con un feite en el escracho,
cada vez que está borracho
la presume de matón;
y es un ñorse tan amargo
que una noche, en la cortada,
lo achicó con la parada
hasta el loco Napoleón.

No podés meter la mula,
son al cuete tantas mañas,
lechuceando a las arañas
te empacaste, ¡ya lo ves!
Pa’ de seda, pa’ de alhajas…

Mucho viento en la sesera
y en tu cuarto la catrera
que rezonga tu vejez

Who’s watching you, who’s keeping
an eye on you,
Feisty Pinta Brava,
off the leash on Florida street,
parading the streets like a Ford.

Don’t you realise, you silly girl,
everyone can see from a mile off,
that you’re an old fox,
with skin so worn, it’s bolder than
Alvear’s head.

Get out of here, don’t be stupid,
The cop is watching you,
don’t come looking for dough
with that face of yours.

People can see what you’re like
even from the way you walk,
They think you can sell sardines,
Love, not in your dreams!

Pinta brava,
don’t forget the past
when you were going to the market
to buy stockfish.

You’re full of yourself,
you quit being a maid,
to be in the end,
Pinta brava, a poor wretch.

This husband you took,
with his scarred face,
every time he’s drunk,
he likes to think of himself as a thug;
he’s such a pussy,
that one night in the dead end,
even the crazy guy standing there
scared the hell out of him.

You can’t pull a fast one,
all these talents of yours are useless,
watching the crooks closely,
you were completely obsessed,
I can see that!
by the silk, by the jewels…

You’ve got so little between your ears,
and in your room, the moaning bed
shows your old age.