ART AND ARTISTS
MUSIC SLANG OF CAR SALESMEN IN RECIFE
Diário de Pernambuco
– Recife, 1953.
São Paulo, May
– On Imperador Street at the corner of Marques do Recife, a large
group of professional used car salesmen gathers. Passersby often
hear speech like none they’ve heard before, although the words themselves
are quite common. It is a unique slang that, although very limited,
is superbly musical. Here are a few notes from information collected
from car salesman José Mojicas, whose nickname - acquired in his
professional milieu - reveals his colleagues’ musical spirit...
(at a waltz) – Payment made slowly in installments considered easy;
the monthly amount is between 2,000 and 2,500 cruzeiros.
As you know, the waltz is considered a slow dance, so the slang
goes: <O pagamento é na valsa (Payment is at a waltz)>.
(at a tango) – Payment settled quickly, in relatively high monthly
installments of at least 6,000 cruzeiros. Payment made “at
a tango” may also be one where the total is divided into two or
three payments that would be too high for a middle-class buyer.
The tango that
the slang makers are referring to is not the Argentinean tango that
has gotten so much Brazilian airtime; not the one found in Brazil’s
upscale salons where professional used car salesmen don’t normally
spend their leisure hours. The tango here is our tango, or tanguinho,
a blend of polka, maxixe and choro – one still played
by real folk musicians, by Zabumbas and the many bands in this immense
country. Not the platinum tango, with twisted verses and music and
steps that would be appropriate for the handicapped or for calming
the hysterical. Rather it is the tango that is brisk, alive, clever;
the delicious tango that drove artists like Ernesto Nazaré or Marcelo
Tupinambá to fame. The slang only makes sense if this is the tango
we’re talking about.
AÍ É SAMBA; MARCHA
É DO OUTRO LADO (that’s samba; march on the other side) – This is
a curious phrase they shout at the top of their lungs in the middle
of the street whenever an inept driver shifts into first gear when
their car is rolling.
When this happens,
the violent friction causes the gears to make a loud characteristic
sound that can be heard a long way off. That’s when someone on Imperador
Street yells at the careless driver: - <Êi, aí é samba; marcha
é do outro lado!...> (Hey! That’s samba; march on the other
side!). Hearing this pun, less timid drivers lose it completely...
Still on music,
there’s an interesting story that took place between a car salesman
and a man on the street. The salesman had sold a shirt to someone
he knew. The latter bought it thinking it was real quality, and
happily went to debut it dancing the coco - or samba, terms
often used interchangeably for the coco. Well, the man danced
the night away, and when he got home the next morning he saw his
shirt was all discolored. A few days later he complained to the
Man – What’s
the deal? You sold me this shirt saying it was excellent quality.
I spent the night dancing samba and it faded completely!...
Salesman – Who
said you could dance samba in it? This shirt is only for dancing
the waltz; it’s calmer.