After exploring Tangos del Piyayo from Málaga in my previous post on 14th November 2021, I’d like to shift our attention to another variation of Tangos de Málaga. Before starting, however, I should point out that the title of this post could be misleading; Tangos de la Repompa, known with the name of a unique cantaora from Málaga, could actually belong to someone else.
La Repompa after La Pirula
Born as Enriqueta Reyes Porras in 1937 in El Perchel, Málaga, La Repompa died so young at the age of 21 when she was still at her prime as a flamenco singer. During her short lifespan, she was particularly popular with Tangos that have been appreciated as Tangos de la Repompa to this date. Her singing had a rich aroma of gypsy flamenco style:
‘Tangos de Málaga’ by La Repompa de Málaga
However, those Tangos were, according to Flamencologia.org, actually creations by another cantaora from the same area, El Perchel, Málaga. Dolores Campos Heredia, artistically known as La Pirula, was born in 1915, 22 years ahead of La Repompa. The style of Tangos sung by La Pirula might have passed onto local younger generations including La Repompa who, with her passionate voice, made the songs famous and popular to the level that people associate them with her instead of the creator. This is not something to undermine the contributions by both La Pirula and La Repompa to those Tangos, but something to show their charisma and impact as equally powerful flamenco singers.
We can only imagine how La Pirula might have sung those Tangos by listening to her daughter, La Cañeta:
‘Tangos de la Pirula’ by La Cañeta
Málaga and Granada
Whether we call them Tangos de la Repompa as widely known, or Tangos de la Pirula as they should originally have been, we can’t help sensing similarity with Tangos de Granada. In fact, if not all, some of them are also known as Tangos de Granada. When I was a beginner dance student, I learnt a choreography of Tangos de Granada to those Tangos, including the famous letra of ‘El que quiera madroños’.
Geographically, Málaga and Granada are neighbouring provinces, and there is no wonder if flamenco singers in both regions travelled the close distance to give performances in local tablaos and fiestas, so that they could learn and influence each other’s distinct styles. Although, in flamenco, we should respect differences and characteristics of regional variations respectively, some features could get blended, interconnected and interwoven through history and artistic communication.
We can even listen to a modern flamenco star from Granada, Estrella Morente, interpreting Tangos de la Repompa in the flow of Tangos de Granada. Whether Málaga or Granada, the distinction could become vague and borderless:
‘La Gazpacha - La Repompa - La Tía Concha’ by Estrella Morente
Tangos de la Repompa / la Pirula are not an exclusive property of a particular singer or a single region; the richness of those songs have been cultivated through generations of talented singers in neighbouring flamenco provinces. Even though we can’t find a simpler way to call those Tangos with respect to all concerned, we can simply enjoy the glorious flamenco treasure as is.
La Repompa de Málaga
Dolores Campos Heredia, "La Pirula"
Un poquito de flamencology 7 - Tangos o Cantes del Piyayo (14th Nov 2021)