"Adiss florecita de arroz, maqana voy a casarme con vos."
Goodbye little rice flower, tomorrow I will marry you.
Morocha, te moves como el Bolshoi!
Hermosa, atraes tanto que sos como una pared magnetica.
Ay! Si tu cocinas como caminas, quiero comer los rasgos!
Se abrio el cielo y bajaron los angeles?
Sometimes the piropo reaches the destinatary indirectly, such as when you
address the lady that comes walking with her beautiful daughter to say:
Quien fuera eterno para amarte toda la vida.
Desde cuando lo bombones caminan por la calle?
Si la belleza fuera delito, yo te hubiera dado cadena perpetua.
Some Piropos from Spain:Con lo que se te ve...y lo que se te imagina; yo ya tengo bastante.
With that you show...plus that I imagine; I have enough.
Bendita sea la madre que te ha parido.
Date: Thu, 23 Sep 1999 13:10:38 -0500 From: Tom Ronquillo Subject: Argentine Flirting (long) A woman friend of mine who grew up in Buenos Aires sent me the following article about piropos. Some of us on the list are old enough to remember when flirtation was a skill that was as important as how well one danced. Today, my younger latina feminista acquaintances will engage me in vociferous debate about the wrongfulness of such sexist behavior. In response, I will say to them that I am still evolving. Then I will tell them how beautiful they look when they are angry at me. Tom (El Tigre) Ronquillo salon.com > Travel May 7, 1999 URL: http://www.salon.com/travel/wlust/1999/05/07/argentina The Argentine art of flirting A young American learns to stop resisting and love the piropo. - - - - - - - - - - - - By Kaitlin Quistgaard Amid the pale purple jacaranda of Plaza San Martmn, I fell into one of those impossibly long stares that strangers engage in here. I had been in Buenos Aires a week and my inner Argentine, developed during a previous four-year love-hate battle with the place -- a battle that had ended with my return to the States two years before -- was on an unprecedented high. Pheromones were no doubt wafting up from the crowd of park-bench lovers and the full-bodied Italianate Spanish was infusing my thoughts as the night jasmine perfumed the city streets. So I playfully clung to his silvery gray eyes. We didn't trade smiles or winks, but my chest tingled with a soundless giggle. It was good to be back on the teasingly sensual Argentine streets. But that night, as the wooden plates were being cleared from a gluttonous asado in which we'd sampled every cut of beef that could be barbecued, my friend Peter challenged the longevity of such public sensuality. I didn't hear what prompted the thought, but his words rang out across the raucous dinner party: "They don't say as many piropos these days." A piropo is the most simpatico of flirtations -- a kind of street poetry that a man whispers just when he's close enough to look a woman in the eye. Traditionalists might memorize a rhyme popularized decades ago, like "Adiss florecita de arroz, maqana voy a casarme con vos." (Goodbye little rice flower, tomorrow I will marry you.) But even a mundane "!Qui piernas!" (What legs!), when delivered by a bewitching flatterer, is pure excitement -- a moment of unexpected intimacy with a stranger -- and then, before your cheeks have fully flushed, he's gone. I had come to think of the piropo as the Latin-lover cousin of the white trash catcall. In the American version, a construction worker, towering above the world on a scaffold, whistles at a bouncy giglet on the sidewalk below, drawing upon her the cruelest attention. But the piropo is subtle -- with refined machismo, it replaces public humiliation with a private fantasy of romance. At most, a person walking beside you might hear, but often no one, not even the mystery man, looks to see your response. The compliment arrives quietly, like an anonymous gift. I was horrified to think the tradition might be dying. Of course, this stunning revelation was delivered by an eccentric foreigner -- a curry-addicted Catholic who had foolishly traded Bombay for Buenos Aires a quarter-century ago, only to be generally known as el hindz, since Spanish makes no allowances for monotheistic Indians. As a non-native, non-female, Peter would have seemed an odd expert on Argentine machismo -- but even after an afternoon of sidewalk flirtation, I trusted him to know. With a fine frosting of gray hair, a well-rounded belly and deep brown eyes that barely shielded his heart from full view, Peter was always surrounded by women, playing confidant and romantic advisor to many -- including, I must admit, me. He had been my best friend in the final days of my expat extravaganza, the one who suffered through every grating argument about the narrow-mindedness that could flourish in these narrow streets -- and in my ex-lover. He also had an inquisitive mind and when we'd gone on assignment together -- he as photographer, me as journalist -- he would end up asking all the questions. Now I presumed he'd been interviewing piropeadores. Viviana leaned into the table, pushing herself into the conversation with a coquettish wink, and said, "I don't hear as many piropos these days, but it's hard to know whether that's because they say them less or they just don't say them to me." There was an eruption of little-girl giggles around the table as the women -- every one a vibrant young babe sculpted into a form-fitting dress -- inwardly tallied their recent piropos and laughed. Cecilia, with her ebony tresses and voluptuous curves, took the apparent deficit of piropos with the same good humor with which she received the verbal ogling itself. Gisela, too, shrugged off the dearth of piropos and set her fairy-blue eyes teasingly upon Felipe. He and the other men at the table tickled their wine glasses and crumbled their bread, but said nothing. I wasn't so quick to kiss the piropo goodbye. How many times had I been hurtling down Avenida Santa Fi, plagued by some inane job-related worry, only to have it washed away by a furtive smile and a flattering line? "With eyes as bright as yours, who needs the sun?" There were times when a morning greeting of "!Diosa!" (Goddess!) was enough to bring on a secret, blushing smile that lasted all day. It wasn't that I was so hard up for attention. Like many an expat, I had bound myself to Argentina with a passionately woven romance. I think, actually, I had gathered piropos like tokens of acceptance from my new country. Their delivery was predicated on the belief that I understood both the language and the culture of the piropo, which is so foreign to my American roots that if there existed some kind of world consciousness that could identify me as a yanqui, I never would have been treated to a single one. But these mysterious piropeadores behaved toward me as if I was Argentine, and it was as if by comprehending them, I became one. A bittersweet nostalgia for that seqorita I had struggled to become rippled through me as I polished off a final espresso and began the requisite round of cheek-kissing goodbyes. Peter directed the taxi to Viviana's place, where I was staying while working on a travel video. Then, sitting up front while Viviana and I commandeered the back seat, he asked the driver if it was true that they said fewer piropos these days. The taxista, who was in his 50s and surely putting in 14-hour days to make a living, agreed. "There's no time," he said flatly. "Everyone's in a hurry. There's no siesta anymore, no time to dream up silly verses." By then we had left the curving cobblestone streets and crumbling, belle ipoque barrio of San Telmo and were barreling down Avenida 9 de Julio, heralded as the widest in the world since the government bulldozed a collective of neoclassical mansions to roll out eight lanes in each direction. During the day it was a motionless sea of traffic, and even now, at 2 a.m. on a weeknight, it was busy -- quick schools of red tail lights darting past the opulent opera house and into the current of another rushing boulevard. Memories of my Argentine life cascaded down these avenues, and I recalled discomforting moments during my education in the ways of this sensual culture: It had been unnerving to learn that the piropo was not always an anonymous affair. Countless times, I had arrived at the office of some government minister or well-known executive whose secretary had put me off for weeks, and the big muckety-muck would size me up while shaking my hand and purr, "If I had known you were so beautiful, I would have agreed to the interview ages ago." At first, I would just freeze and return their winking words with an icy handshake. But gradually, as the filter through which I had been trained to view the world dissolved, I found humor in these fawning men in suits. Sure, they were sexist and a bit grotesque, but they hadn't been schooled to not say what they were really thinking. And their admission of attraction -- if you could even call it that -- seemed harmless. I suppose any feminist would have howled at my apathy, but by then I would have howled right back if I could have found the party responsible for draining the sweaty-palmed humanity, with its unchecked crushes and flirtatious freedoms, from my homeland. Over time, I came to revel in Argentina's unbridled acceptance of everyday sexuality, and with my feminist education and Seven Sisters diploma in tow, learned to offer a smile and genuine thanks to these piropador-acquaintances, before turning to the interview at hand. I awoke the next morning in the tiny twin bed in Viviana's apartment, troubled by the dwindling piropos and wondering what such a change would portend for Argentina's relationship to sexuality. If the taxi driver was right and over-busy lives were to blame, I wondered if the country would ever recover. The government was hellbent on arriving in the devoutly worshipped First World; competition, longer workdays and the American entertainment monoculture had long begun their beguiling encroachments on simpler ways of life. I could hardly bear to think that my sexual paradise -- not that of an easy lay, but one in which casual attraction had a voice -- could be Americanizing. The last thing the world needs is another prudish freak show of a country, I thought, hanging my towel beside the bidet and pulling on a sleek black dress. I slipped into a taxi and headed to La Boca. The portside brothels and bars that had witnessed the birth of Argentina's sultry tango had long given way to an impoverished barrio turned tour-bus standard. Decades ago the cheap rent had attracted artists, who converted the little houses on stilts into an outrageous palette of kaleidoscoping reds, greens and purples. Now a booming business in sidewalk watercolors and other "local crafts" attracted European and American tourists. I hadn't ventured here for six years, since the very first week of my Argentine sojourn, and wouldn't have been back if the blatant color schemes weren't perfect for TV. But it turned out to be a godsend, for here I met Oscar, a vaguely creepy street artist and tango dancer. Handsome and aging, he absolutely dripped with Argentinity beneath a pale fedora and worn blazer. My question about what time the art stalls opened prompted the first piropo of my trip: For a woman as beautiful as I, he said, the stalls would open at any hour. With a hint of a smile, I asked if it was true that they say less piropos these days. "Sadly, it is," he replied. Asking my permission, Oscar led me to a nearby park bench, arranged his silk aviator's cravat, lit up a cigarette and told me the history of piropos. "In the old days," he said, looking straight into my eyes with familiarity, "men came alone to try their luck in the New World. They left their wives and families behind. Soon there were far more men than women in Argentina. How do you get the attention of the only woman around?" His eyes followed a passing teenage girl, whose deep tan traced its way from her painted toes right up to the hem of her 4-inch skirt. "By saying the most beautiful words. It's the same as dancing the tango -- maybe you're ugly, but if you are a beautiful dancer, you have a chance." His chatter drifted toward the salacious dance and he began, as any tour book would, to tell me how it had been prohibited in Argentina until news of its European popularity reached these shores and gave it cachet with the locals. He made a valiant effort to impress me with his travels to the United States to lecture on the tango, while running his eyes over my legs. I steered him back to the piropo. "Men used to dress well, act properly and try to impress the girls. Today everything is much more aggressive," Oscar said. The famed melancholy of the tanguero spread across the elegant lines of his face. "The city runs at such speed. And women ask men out. You don't need a polished turn of phrase to get a girl to sleep with you." There was something uncomfortably forward about his manner as he said so, and for a moment I wondered if he had interpreted my pert response to his piropo as some kind of invitation. The woman my mother raised me to be wouldn't have dreamed of sharing a park bench with a flirtatious art-hawker. She would have run at the slightest sexual innuendo. But in Argentina, I could only chuckle, finding no hint of impropriety in his banter. I relaxed back into my seat."Before, I would work a piropo in my head until it was something wonderful. Then, if I impressed her enough with the verse, maybe she'd agree to have a coffee with me. If she found me interesting, maybe she'd give me her number. And maybe we'd go out again. It was all very slow." He shook his head, enraptured by the memory of a difficult, old-fashioned conquest. For a second I wondered if this story -- told by a man who had mentioned that he'd been married more than 30 years and spoke proudly of his grown daughter -- was more fantasy than truth. In any case, it was time for me to get back to work. I thanked Oscar and began to extricate myself from his reminiscences with a goodbye handshake. He insisted on giving me his card, then pulled my hand closer. "Remember," he said, reprimanding my cold exit strategy, "everything here is a kiss." His lips brushed my cheek and he took his leave with a broad smile. That evening, sitting on the floor with a glass of Malbec, I recounted the tale to Viviana. What was really going on with the piropo? After all, Oscar, that peddler of art and history and flirtation, had agreed with my friend Peter's theory that its popularity was diminishing. And like the taxista, he blamed its demise on speed and modernity. But our whole damn encounter had been a piropo. Oscar's scheme had worked on me: He'd said something charming that had enticed me to pass half the morning with him. At that Viviana nodded and broke into a rollicking laugh. I called Peter. I was eager to tell him the story of Oscar and discover the genesis for his theory of the dying piropo. Filming on my travel video was starting the next day and I was moving to a downtown hotel to join the crew, so Peter and I arranged to meet in the lobby after I checked in. I gave Viviana a goodbye kiss and headed downstairs to find a taxi. The sidewalk was busy with children coming home from soccer and ballet, and friends parting ways following an after-work drink. An unoccupied taxi was just coming into view as the silhouette of a man came up the street. I saw only dark hair, a brown coat. But then his eyes pierced mine and with the practiced flourish of a piropeador, he gestured at my luggage and asked, "Oh sweetness, must you leave so soon?" I was besieged by silent giggles and a faint blush as he disappeared into the hazy pink evening. salon.com | May 7, 1999top of page
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 13:28:36 -0400 From: SERGIO Subject: PIROPOS OF THE DAY Morocha, te moves como el Bolshoi! Brunet, you move like the Bolshoi Ballet. Hermosa, atraes tanto que sos como una pared magnetica. Beautiful, you atract so much that you are like a magnetic wall. I dedicate this piropos to all the beautiful ladies in our list.top of page
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 14:01:37 -0400 From: Nancy Ingle Subject: Piropos My favorite, delivered on the streets of Madrid: Ay! Si tu cocinas como caminas, quiero comer los rasgos! OH! If you cook like you walk, I want to eat the scraps! Gotta' tell you it is a real thrill for a 50+ woman to hear after a hard day of being a tourist!! Nancy Ingle "He danced well, as if it were natural and joyous in him to dance, [with] a certain subtle exultation like glamour in his movement, and his face the flower of his body." D. H. Lawrencetop of page
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 23:18:38 -0400 From: SERGIO Subject: Piropos y El Fileteado - Not short but not very long either - We have been discussing some of the characteristic elements of Buenos Aires, such as Los Piropos. The habit of delivering a verbal flower to the ladies that pass by, while you are walking in the street.The perennial flirting, in the form of staring, smiling, winking, slight contact, innocently delivered and received, in the street, parks, stores, public transportation, etc. Another characteristic of Buenos Aires has been EL FILETEADO, an art and a craft, in the form of beautiful paintings, that are exhibited by trucks, colectivos (small busses)and in the past also by the carts of fruit vendors, milkmen, etc. They were originally introduced in Argentina by immigrants that brought the ORNATTO ITALIANO AND THE FRENCH ROCOCO, pictorial artistic forms that would very soon take their unique expression, usually combined with phrases such as, in a truck, "What is heavy is not the load, but the taxes" - "Lo que pesa no es la carga, son los impuestos"; another trucker " Y yo que pensaba ser doctor" - "Look at me! I thought I was going to be a Medical Doctor"- or the MODEST one that says," Las rubias, las pelirrojas y las morenas son el alivio de mis penas" - " The blonds, the red haired, and the brunettes, alleviate my sorrows". The art of The Filete and the Fileteadores are part of the Folklore of the City, rooted very deeply in the urban mentality, associated as a typical expression of a sector of the population; usually blue collar workers that express their feelings, touching different areas such as love, work, friendship, or sarcastic complaints. Those that visit Buenos Aires may find pieces of fileteado at the Sunday flee market in San Telmo.top of page
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 15:37:42 -0500 From: Tom Ronquillo Subject: Piropos and Tangos In its best form, a piropo subtly communicates that we view someone as attractive. At its worst, it can be a vulgar, disrespectful verbal assault. I suggest that some of the things that make piropos enjoyable are similar to what makes a good tango. Namely, artistry, subtlety, respectfulness, fantasy and confidence. Conversely, the elements that make piropos and tangos unpleasant are vulgarities, forcing, disrespect, relentlessness and false bravado. Anyone care to add more to either list? At the heart of the piropo discussion might be the essence of why people dance tango. Piropos and tangos can be fun. Both invite intimacy. Both allow fantasy. Both require skill to to well. Both are arenas where age is not a limiting factor. (Recall self described "50 + woman" Nancy Ingle's now famous walk that caused a Spanish heart to flutter. BTW, the Cuban version of what Nancy heard is: "If you cook the way you walk, I'd like to lick the pot." A bit more forward, those Cubanos!) A sweet piropo or exquisite tango can be one of life's special treats. Are piropos a dying art form from an earlier era? Perhaps. But, there are a few practitioners around who can still move their tongues as skillfully as their feet. And judging from some of the reponses in this thread, there are even a few women left who enjoy it. Tom (El Tigre) Ronquillotop of page
Date: Fri, 1 Oct 1999 20:26:10 -0500 From: dmcree Subject: Mas Piropos Hello list members, I've been enjoying the discussion of piropos, particularly Tom's observations about the elements that make a good piropo or a good tango. For those who may be interested there is a web site (of course!) dedicated to "Piropos de amor y amistad." There are some 300 piropos on this site and visitors (men and women) are invited to submit new ones they've heard or used. Some of them are quite sappy sounding (to someone of my cultural upbringing) , but many are rather clever. The site is in Spanish (no English translations). The URL is http://www.ilusion.com/piropos/ Even if you only have an intermediate reading ability in Spanish you can enjoy trying to figure some of them out if you like a challenge! David McRee, Bradenton, Florida, USAtop of page
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 13:45:30 -0400 From: "L: Anne-Sophie Ville" Subject: Re: Another Piropo? A good friend of mine had a great one while we were in Buenos Aires two years ago. For the whole evening a guy talked to her in spanish, the trick is that she doesn't understand spanish... No problem, the guy talked to her and went on and on on how beautiful she was, and that he would like to see her again ..... all the time helped by a friend of his who was translating in english. At the end, he said to my friend: I know that we might not be together now, but if, in one of my future life, I can spend only one day with you, that will be the best day of my entire existence...."top of page
Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 19:03:23 -0400 From: Christina Burtis Subject: piropos, tango & Buenos Aires
ahh Sergio, keeping the tradition alive. ;)
This reminds me of the recent literary work of Julie Taylor I picked up
last winter - Paper Tangos. Formally a dancer, Ms. Taylor is a professor at
Rice University who lived in Buenos Aires for many years. This book is about
her experience interacting with the culture told through the medium of her
leaning the tango (with interesting flip-images). Intense HenryJames-like,
forigner-interfacing-with-the-local-culture theme. You may hate it or love it,
disagree or agree with her impressions, but it is a very interesting and
relevant read. I remember her mentioning piropos; it went like this:
The boy on the street said, smiling as he passed me: Just a little longer and I could climb up the braid to win the princess.
Anita, moving among clients in the hair salon, said: A guy and on top of it a tanguero - that's a changed atmosphere. But the kids - the ones on the street - those piropos are innocent.
Another boy said, in what I always recounted as my piropo m=E1ximo, "Se F1ora, perhaps you could let me be your son." "But I have a son your age," I laughed. "I could be the oldest son," he laughed back. After which he gallantly
presented me with a very large bonbon, and my bus swept me away..... (pg. 95)
My take: I think there are probably different levels of innocence. ;) ;) ;) As there are different kinds of men, different kinds of situations. Its definitely a charming tradition in any event. No, I don't feel its a put-down for American men. Yes, I can tell the difference between a harmless compliment and unacceptable vulgarity. American men may have gotten similar "piropos" impulses beaten out of them over the last three decades in the wake of feminism's progress and the ulterior motives of some people to misuse and abuse the howl of "sexual harassment". Sad I think, because I know the "piropos impulse" is in our men. Maybe that's why tango is now again all the rage.
Has anyone else read other works of Argentine literature that deals with tango? Does Luis Jorge Borges involve tango in his writings? I heard that he does. Very relevant to tango. It would be a highly foolish and unpleasant thing to want to divorce the Argentine culture from Argentine Tango.
Which brings me to mention an exhibit that I was completely thrilled to run into yesterday. "Buenos Aires 1910 - 2000, Before & After" Absolutely THRILLING to see this collection of photos and items from that city's time period (most things are from 1910.) We are talking tango's young heyday, with its international fame and Golden Era on the horizon. I found myself completely lost in the dozens and dozens of photos of the city's development. At one point I realized I was searching the depicted street corners and the faces of the immigrants for the essence of tango's beginnings. They were all there - the city and the people that gave us the tango. Their tango. Its an amazing exhibit, and travelling I think. Look for it. If you are in the DC area, a portion of it is generally accessible and at the State Department. The portion I saw was in the main hall of the World Bank Group headquarters off of Penn. Ave. and closed to the general public unless you know a staff member. But again, I think its travelling so watch for it.
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 01:16:38 -0400 From: SERGIO Subject: Piropo definition Piropo by definition is a sentence comical and poetic ( that does not offend the recipient), that men tell women when they go by in the street. So if somebody says something offensive, that is not a PIROPO. Piropos are meant to please a lady not to offend. Flirting is present as part of daily life in most of the Latin countries; Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Latin America. EL PIROPO, however, is a Spanish tradition. Spain took this beautiful custom to all the areas of her empire, from Spain to the Filipines, and from Mexico to Argentina. Some Piropos from Spain: Con lo que se te ve...y lo que se te imagina; yo ya tengo bastante. With that you show...plus that I imagine; I have enough. Bendita sea la madre que te ha parido. Blessed be the mother that gave you birth. Piropo from Argentina: Si la belleza fuera delito, yo te hubiera dado cadena perpetua. If beauty were a crime, you would deserve life in prison.top of page
Garrit Fleischmann Okt.99