Sunday, 8 February 2015

Can you feel it?

While driving the other day, I put on some dance classics of Pedro Laurenz. As I was listening and enjoying the music (Recién, Como dos extraños, etc.), I turned up the volume a little.

Suddenly the music’s impact on me changed completely. No longer was I merely listening, I was feeling. The volume had not been increased excessively, but the effect was remarkable. Previously, I had been able to hear and appreciate the instruments and singer quite clearly, but with a small turn of the dial, the emotion of the music took over. My response to the music was no longer cerebral, it had become visceral.

No wonder I don’t feel inspired to dance even my favourite tangos at a milonga, if the volume is too low. Perhaps this statement doesn’t apply to everyone, but I believe that the desire to dance is primarily physical and emotional, rather than a cerebral response. The music should invade your body, pick you up and carry you away.

Some folk, it seems, will dance to any music. They’re up on the floor, in the embrace, ready to dance, before the tanda even starts. Internally, I shake my head, puzzled about what they might be feeling. If they are feeling! Perhaps tango for them is more akin to physical exercise. To each his own, I suppose….

Then you have the analytical approach. This dancer tries to extract and express every musical nuance in a tango. This dancer has a bad case of Too much musicality.  Is anything gained by intellectualising the dance like this? What is the point of trying to score as many musical points as possible in one tango? Does this approach contribute to social tango?

Dancing tango is simple – simply dance the feeling.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Milonga para los niños

Join us at the gorgeous Mt Osmond Golf Club

Sublime Golden Age music, a selection of temptations for the silent auction and of course, great dancing.

Sunday 15 March, 4 - 8pm

Entry: $10

All proceeds to the Sociedad Para Los Niños

Let's see if Adelaide can come close to our fantastic achievements in 2013

PS.  Let us know if you would like to contribute goods or services for the silent auction or raffle.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Happy Birthday, Ricardo Tanturi!

El caballero del tango was born 27 January 1905, and was in his prime as a pianist, composer and most prominently as a band leader during the Golden Age of Tango. Collaborating with the popular singer Alberto Castillo, and then the more romantic voice of Enrique Campos, his orquesta produced numerous classics which I find simply irresistible. No traditional milonga is complete without Tanturi!

Perhaps the best known of these classics outside Argentina is Una emoción which featured in the credits of the film Assassination tango.

Listen to DDP's Favourite Tanturi Tandas which feature links to DDP's lovingly crafted translations of the lyrics. Tanda of the Week also treats us to a number of Tanturi treasures.

And for the more visually-oriented, take a look at milonguero Rubén Harymbat & Enriqueta Kleinman dancing to Recuerdo malevo (Tanturi/Castillo), and Carlitos Espinoza & Noelia Hurtado performing to Calla bandoneón (Tanturi/Campos).

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Getting the music #2

One good way of improving your tango is to listen to Golden Age dance music - a lot!

You start hearing, feeling and responding to more and more elements of this rich, multi-layered music. Ah, what a delicious pleasure it is to dance with someone who really gets the music.

But what about all those fabulous, danceable tangazos which are sung? What might you be missing if you don't understand Spanish, or in many cases Lunfardo? Some people dismiss the lyrics as unimportant. I've even heard tango lyrics derided as merely variations on the "She done him wrong" theme. But there's so much more to these stories of the barrio. I've found that having even a small inkling of the story to which I'm dancing totally enriches my tango experience.

Fortunately, a number of dedicated and talented souls are opening these doors to non-Spanish speaking tango enthusiasts. Take a look and get lost on the blogs of Poesía de Gotán, Tango Decoder and Embrujamiento.

Look up some of your favourite tangos, and then see if things change for you next time you dance.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

What does it take to dance in Buenos Aires?

Thinking of visiting the Mecca of tango? 
Are you ready for the challenges which await you? 
Are your expectations realistic?

Here is one person’s opinion – not expert, not comprehensive, but coming from a lot of observation and personal experience.   Visitors to BsAs need as many assets as possible to break into the local milonga scene – and I’m talking about the traditional milongas here, such as La Nacional, El Beso, Plaza Bohemia, Lo de Celia, etc.  So here’s my list: 
  •  Make an effort with your personal hygiene  and  appearance  (for a man, that can include wearing a jacket). 
  •  A good embrace is a must, and the first step you take is a defining moment – make it count. 
  • You need to dance well if you are to be noticed, and then desired as a possible partner
  • And you need to appear interested and confident – look like you belong in the milonga
Now some basic codes that should be respected: 
  •  Using the cabeceo is essential …. and for ladies, that also means remaining in your seats until the man arrives
  • Good navigation skills must be used to avoid embarrassing collisions, or disturbing the dancers around you. This means following a tight line-of-dance and respecting neighbouring dancers’ space.
  • It is important to dance appropriately and conservatively. No big figures, gentlemen. Nor feet off the floor, ladies.  Everyone sees everything in the milonga  - dancing that doesn’t fit in, is quickly condemned in people’s minds  
  • When dancing, there needs to be maximum concentration on your partner – it’s not about you, it’s about them.  Add to this, musicality that reflects familiarity with the music, and how to respond to it.
So will breaking into the scene take a long time?  There are a number of factors to keep an eye on, quite apart from the above list (e.g. don’t sit as a couple if you expect to dance with other partners).  Here are some extra tips: 
  •  Stay for a reasonable period in BsAs (no, two weeks aren’t long enough), attend the same milonga regularly, and return to BsAs as often as you can to re-connect with partners you have met
  • If you get a couple of dances on your first night, and your partners liked what they felt, then they will probably look out for you next time  ..... when you may then find a couple more new partners
  • Have patience, and an understanding of social pressures – local people go to the milongas to see and dance with their friends, so there is an element of wanting to dance together first.  You may have to wait and persist.  And while you may not get many dances in your early visits to the milongas, there is lots to interest the true tango lover, such as listening to the music, and watching the dancers.
These thoughts are the product of 15 years of annual visits to BsAs, when in the early years, lack of competence, ignorance ... and  a reasonable dose of fear, meant that we only danced as a couple.  No-one had told us anything about how to fit in, about the codes, about dancing that was appropriate.  Then there was a period of ‘dipping our toes in the water’, until we had eventually developed our skill, understanding, and confidence enough to fully embrace the ‘singles’ scene at the traditional milongas mentioned at the start, and to look forward to making local tango connections.  Above all, we came to utterly respect and enjoy the codes and customs of the milongas that belong to the people of BsAs.

There’s probably more that could be added to my list. What do you think?

PS. If you’re thinking of visiting BsAs for the first time to dance tango, and your teachers haven’t prepared you for what awaits, then make sure you talk to people who know.

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