Interview – Visitor from Rome – Aug 08

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Daniela Pas, a.k.a. Madame Chiffon, is an elegant and petit lady with a zest for life and a passion for Tango. She organises a milonga in Rome called La Milonga Stregata – (Ristorante Garden) – Via Nomentana 677 – (near Piazza Sempione) Rome. (Wednesday, from 9:30pm to 01:00am). Although Daniela has been to London many times, this is her first trip as a Tango dancer.

AT: Daniela, what was your first impression of the London Tango scene?

DP: My first impression was to “feel at home!” I am convinced that the Tango is not only a dance, but a way of thinking and feeling united, even among people who you have never known. I must say that I was very happy to see that so many people also love the Tango in London. “Milongueros” in London are very friendly, and I had the good fortune to meet some really lovely people.

AT: How is the dancing and the music that is played in London different from the dancing and music played in Rome?

DP: Tango music is basically the same as everywhere else. However, I noticed a different way of dancing to Tango music by the English. There seems to be a predilection for those Tangos with a pace more musically scanned and fast. Probably because we Italians are a Latin people and, therefore, very hot and passionate, we love dancing too much to music that is more romantic and passionate. We are not satisfied, in short, to dance “on pace”, but often prefer to dance “on the melody”.

I also noticed that in the London Milongas there is not much use of “Cortinas”. These musical intermissions are needed for couples to decide what orchestras and at what time they prefer to dance to the music and, accordingly, with those who they want to dance with at that particular time. This choice can only be made by listening to the beginning of the first song (unless it is announced by the DJ), and as the whole Tanda will generally be composed of similar music, everything becomes much more simple. The curtain music also allows couples to break up conveniently, having danced a Tanda. It would be a lack of respect to the lady, in fact, if the dancer does not conclude the Tanda with her.

AT: What did you like about the Milongas in London?

DP: The London milongas are all very beautiful and spacious and I do not know which I liked more.
I can only say that I found very suggestive “The Crypt.” Not ‘something very usual for me to dance the Tango in a church! ….. Although my parents chose a Tango to be played while pronouncing their wedding vows. It was: “The melody of Corazon” by Edgardo Donato, a song from a study by Chopin that my mother, a concert pianist, loved very much and that never fails in my play list.

AT: What is your favourite Tango song and why?

DP: My favourite Tango song, and “my Tango”, is called “Chiffon Silk”. It was written just for me by my great friend, pianist and composer, Maestro Sergio Di Giacomo, dell’Orchestra Ausonia Ensemble. This is a song yet unpublished and will hopefully be included in a CD. I shall be very proud if that happens!

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Tango en Sevilla

dscf0360There is Tango in Sevilla! You can’t compare it to anything else. You just have to open your heart, accept it for what it is, make the most of it and enjoy, as dancing in Sevilla is all about the people and socialising.

Before my trip to Sevilla at the beginning of October, I contacted Antonio Bejarano, from La Casa del Tango Sevilla, to confirm the Milonga dates during my stay there. There were three Milongas scheduled that week and I was lucky enough to be able to attend them all.

On Sunday evening there is a Milonga held at Bar Garufa and hosted by Antonio. By sheer good fortune my apartment was literally around the corner from it. I could hear the strands of Tango music as I walked towards the bar and instantly felt at home. Bar Garufa is a lovely modern bar with marble everywhere. The venue is medium sized, the bartender is friendly, and there is enough room to dance, sit and drink, even when busy.

Although my Spanish improved by the end of my trip, I was a little nervous when I first walked in on my own, a complete stranger, on my first night in Sevilla. I took a deep breath, walked to the bar, ordered a glass of wine and proceeded to inquire as to who was running the Milonga that evening. This was all done in my very poor Spanish, but my new friend Victor proceeded to steer me in the right direction and introduced me to all his friends as the Tango dancer from London who’s Spanish was not so good.

There was no DJ that evening, but there was a CD being played with the music for the evening all set out in Tandas with Cortinas. I may have thought some of the song choices rather unusual, however, there were people dancing and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Comparatively, this was a small group that was dancing that evening and I was able to have a brief conversation with nearly everyone there. Everyone was very friendly and the ladies were particularly lovely and welcoming. Being the new girl in town I had the good fortune to dance with nearly all of the men there that evening, including one of the resident Argentino Tango instructors, Milton. That was a real treat, and his wife Romina is so sweet. The two of them dance so beautifully together.

I eventually found Antonio, introduced myself and thanked him for his assistance about the Milongas. We had a little chat about what was going on the rest of the week and about my stay, and then we had a few dances before it was time to go home.

I floated home (all one and a half blocks) that evening with a very warm feeling inside of having been made to feel most welcome by a small and established Tango community and with the promise that I would return on Wednesday. It didn’t matter that I didn’t speak much Spanish. The fact that I had made an effort and spoke ‘Tango’ seemed to be enough.

Wednesday’s Milonga, at Bar Garufa, had more than twice as many people than on Sunday and I was grateful to see a few familiar faces. I was welcomed by my Sunday crowd with hugs and kisses along with introductions to some new people who also gave me hugs and kisses! The Spanish are great for that!

This time the Milonga was hosted by Alejandra Sabena and Gastón Godoy. Alejandra was the DJ for the evening and played an eclectic mix of Tango music in Tandas with Cortinas. As the evening went on an extra hour, there was an interesting break of Bachata, Sevillanas, Chacarera and Salsa which had been announced earlier. I was bemused to note that there had been a considerable amount of people chatting and drinking at the bar, but not dancing Tango. However, most of them seemed to get on the dance floor during the Latin break. I was mesmerised by Alejandra’s Bachata and surprised to see nearly everyone dancing the Sevillanas, but then we were in Sevilla after all!

As well as dancing with my Sunday group, I did manage to dance with a few new people. I think if Wednesday would have been my first Tango experience in Sevilla, it might have been a bit more difficult to ingratiate myself with the locals and dance as much as I did, mainly for the fact it was a bigger crowd and there were little groups of people pocketed all around the room.

I thanked my hostess at the end of the evening and went home with the feeling of belonging and another promise to dance al fresco on Thursday evening at the Museo de Bellas Artes.

On Thursday evening, after having had a 2 hour Sevillanas lesson and then been to a Flamenco performance, I managed to take a wrong turn and get lost on my way to the Museo de Bellas Artes! Very easy to do as there are a lot of little narrow street and I couldn’t see the map too well in the dark. By the time I arrived, the Sevillanas dancing was finishing and the Tango was just starting. The Museo square is marble, which is no surprise as there is marble everywhere in Sevilla, and it was lovely to dance on. No need to worry about ruining my dance shoes! My new found Tango friends put my bags with theirs, as it can be tricky with some undesirables, but everything was fine with nothing to worry about.

There was a small group of onlookers. The whole event was very casual and relaxed and again hosted by Antonio. No-one seemed in a hurry to dance and so we chatted for awhile before venturing out onto the square.

After about an hour, I was invited to go with my new friends for a drink at the other end of the square and although there was about another hour left of dancing, I didn’t hesitate in going with them. I felt really honoured to be asked. We were able to hear the music, albeit faintly and hopefully I have made some new friends that I can look forward to seeing in the spring when the orange blossoms are in bloom.

Websites: http://www.casadeltango.es and http://www.tangosevilla.com

Bar Garufa, C/ Jiménez Aranda n°5 on Sunday from 22:00 – 24:00 and Wednesday from 22:00 – 01:00 hrs.

Plaza del Museo (Museo de Bellas Artes), C/ Alfonso XII on Thursday from 22:00 – 24:00 hrs. (open from the beginning of May to the end of October)

Entry is free on all evenings and details about upcoming events, organisers and teachers are available on the websites. Please confirm before travelling.

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