Today’s article is about a rather old tango, but in my opinion it complains exemplary of the tragedy of fate, but turns that into a wonderful confession to tango.
The title “De mi Barrio” was written in 1923 by Roberto Goyheneche. Here it is important that the name is written with h and not confused with the famous tango singer Roberto Goyeneche (“El Polaco”), who was born in 1926. Roberto Emilio Goyheneche lived from 1898 to 1925. Born in Buenos Aires, he studied piano and played in the orchestra of Juan Carlos Bazan, later as pianist of Eduardo Arolas and until 1922 in the orchestra of Roberto Firpo. His first own orchestra followed, among others with the bandoneonist Pedro Laurenz. 
Yo de mi barrio era la piba más bonita,
en un colegio de monjas me eduqué
y aunque mis viejos no tenían mucha guita
con familias bacanas me traté.
Y por culpa de ese trato abacanado
ser niña bien fue mi única ilusión,
y olvidando por completo mi pasado,
a un magnate entregué mi corazón.
Por su porte y su trato distinguido
por las cosas que me mintió al oído,
no creí, que pudiese ser malvado
un muchacho tan correcto y educado.
Sin embargo, me indujo el mal hombre
con promesa de darme su nombre,
a dejar mi hogar abandonado
para ir a vivir a su lado.
Y es por eso que mi vida se desliza
entre el tango y el champagne del cabaret
mi dolor se confunde en mi sonrisa,
porque a reír mi dolor me acostumbré…
Y si encuentro algún otario que pretenda
por el oro mis amores conseguir,
yo lo dejo sin un cobre pa’ que aprenda
y me paguen lo que aquel me hizo sufrir.
Hoy bailo el tango, soy milonguera
me llaman loca y ¿qué se yo?…
Soy flor de fango, una cualquiera
culpa del hombre que me engañó…
Entre las luces de mil colores
y la alegría del cabaret,
vendo caricias y vendo amores
para olvidar a aquel que se fue…
This is the english translation:
In my neighborhood, I was the most beautiful girl
educated in a nun convent
and although my parents did not have much money
i had dealings with high standing families.
And because of this fine behavior
it was my only illusion to be a good girl
and completely forgetting my background
I gave my heart to a magnate.
Because of his habitus and his noble demeanor,
because of the things he lied to my ear,
I did not believe that such a correct and educated person
could be bad.
However, the bad person seduced me
with the promise to give me his name
to leave my home abandoned
to live by his side.
And that’s why my life slides
between the tango and the champagne of the cabaret,
my pain is confused in my smile
I’ve got used to smiling my pain.
And when I meet someone who believes
to get my love for gold
I leave him without a single piece of copper to learn
and pay me for what made me suffer.
Today I’m dancing Tango, I’m Milonguera
they call me crazy and “what do I know”?
I am a bloom of the swamp, a someone
because of the man who betrayed me.
Among the lights of a thousand colors
and the joys of the cabaret
I sell caresses and love
to forget the one who left.
One may now discuss whether the protagonist is now broken because of the lost love and tries to forget her pain in the cabaret, or whether by this stroke of fate a strong woman has emerged, who professed upright to her life as a milonguera paying back to the “bad” men – I personally believe in the latter interpretation – at least I see in the text of the chorus a very moving commitment to tango and milonga.
Here are some interpretations of the song:
A very early version of Rosita Quiroga from 1926
A later version of Rosita Quiroga from 1952
This version with Isabel de Grana and Canaro with much more drama
Here’s the slightly softer version with Fanny Navarro and Julio de Caro
Another version sung by Susana Rinaldi
Male Tango singers have also performed the popular song, although it does not really fit because of the lyrics. Here is a small selection:
Mario Alonso is singing together with Canaro
Alberto Castillo (with Tanturi) has recorded the song.
While early versions (such as Rosita Quiroga) are still heavily influenced by a Gardel style interpretation, modern recordings use more musical and emotional bandwidth. Since many modern tango singers have the song in their repertoire, here are just a few examples. Let’s start with my favorite:
This version of Stella Milano was released in 2002.
Here is another modern version with Lidia Borda from the year 2005
Another interpretation of Mamba Mali with a Brazilian touch
Very nice is also the version of Serena Wey (with Estufa Caliente) from 1997 (unfortunately not on Youtube).
Finally, the instrumental versions:
OTV with a very early recording from 1927, a version I like to play for the dance floor.
Rarely heard is a recording by Osvaldo Fresedo from 1925 (unfortunately not on Youtube)