Dance To The Music!

Here is a comment from one of my readers that I want to share with you:

Re Tal’s comment about the music, he is absolutely right to say that almost everywhere you go you hear the same undistinguished tracks, and most of them are tangos with lyrics. I have noticed the choice of music getting progressively more narrow over the last five years, in London. I presume this is because the DJs listen to each others playlists and repeat them at their own milongas. There is a huge amount of truly extraordinary tango music, but you wont hear any of it a typical london milonga, although you used to. I have many objections, but the use of tangos with lyrics is probably the greatest. Tango did not use to have lyrics, but the lyricists, led by Carlos Gardel, colonised tango about eighty years ago. In Buenos Aires the traditionalist view is that only the ‘strangers’, to use the Argentine word for you and me, dance to tangos with lyrics, and what do they know. Not much, it would seem……. Tangos with lyrics are for listening to, not for dancing to. After an hour of baritone lyrics, she ruined my life, she left me, she done me wrong, etc. etc. I have a head ache. Then again, why would I would want to compete with the vocalist when trying to communicate my interpretation of the melody to my follower. Either she gets two competing interpretations, or I give in and submit to the vocalists. What’s the point? Dancing to lyrics is truly a waste of life……… There will be more on this subject on my website, in due course.

Danny Israel

Now I am not really sure what the state of play is in Buenos Aires regarding this.  I have been told that the Argentines like to dance to songs with lyrics, except Gardel.  If someone from Argentina can clarify this, that would be great.

As for dancing to songs with lyrics, I don’t mind it.  I don’t understand all of the words, but I find some singers to be quite lyrical and lovely to dance to.  I also like being serenaded during a dance.  Two men that I know of quite regularly sing along to songs they like that move them and it gives a different dimension to the dance and I find I can get quite caught up in their passion.

As for the music in London, well I might have to agree somewhat that the music can be the same old all around.   While visiting London for a few weeks, a friend of mine managed to get a DJ spot at one of the milongas (she has her own Milonga in Rome).  After about an hour and a half, the organiser wasn’t happy with the music and replaced her with someone else as some of the people told her they would leave if the music didn’t get better.  When we asked what was the problem with the music, the organiser couldn’t/wouldn’t tell us.  This was really surprising as there were people dancing to the music and the floor was reasonably full.  It was still early.  My friend spent hours setting up playlist of 10hrs worth of traditional music that could be adjusted as necessary, and all put into Tandas with Cortinas.  I helped her with the music in only that I offered an opinion such as, ‘That song is too slow, or too nuevo.’ She had beautiful music that I hadn’t heard of.  I had music that she didn’t have, a bit faster.  I told her that I thought the London crowd preferred a faster beat.  In discussing this with visiting DJ’s after the event that seems to be the consensus and which was played by her last-minute replacement.  One thing that came out of this was that when looking at a playlist, most people don’t know what they are looking at, not even some DJ’s.  I think the best DJ’s know their music inside and out and can see from the title of the song what it is, who it is by and how it will sound.  There are very few of those.  The only person who my friend was able to talk to about her list was with the visiting teacher that taught the class before the Milonga.  He couldn’t find any fault with it and thought it was all danceable.  If there was anything wrong with it, it was that people may have been unfamiliar with some of the music.   I don’t find it a problem dancing to unfamiliar music if I listen to it for a little while before the song gets going.  After that I find that the music instinctively takes me where it wants me to go.  The silver cloud was that many people came up to my friend when the music changed over to tell her how much they enjoyed her choices as it was different to the same old that was being played. 🙂

I am not sure how the music is going to improve in London.  I think if a person has a problem with the music, then that person should contact the DJ or organiser and very nicely tell them what you didn’t like about their song choices and what you would prefer instead.  I have once told an organiser that I wasn’t crazy about the music that was played by a visiting DJ and why, but they just came back to me and said that other people told them that they enjoyed the music.  Each to their own I guess.

Now, this isn’t a post about or against DJ’s, that’s another post.  🙂

What I want to know is what the dancers like to dance to and what their opinion is about the music played at the London Milongas.  I also want to hear from people who dance/live in Buenos Aires and what they dance to there.

Over to you!

Interview – Visitor from Rome – Aug 08


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!