A very talented, outspoken, colleague of mine asked me this a while back during a break we had in one of our morning of meetings for musicians that teach teachers how to teach music. Well, that was a very interesting question, but one that really makes most Argentine social tango dancers laugh, and laugh out loud.
My immediate response was “No…Bob…let’s just think about this a moment, how could we all (tango social dancers) circumnavigate the dance floor safely with others doing that at the same time?”
Hmmm, his look of surprise and concern was quickly forthcoming. “You are right Isabella, how could that happen?”
What a brilliant and quick mind he had. Immediately he understood that in a social context, jumps and kicks just cannot happen.
This begs the question “What does happen on the tango social dance floor?”
Here is a very recent video taken in one of the more famous places.
Many people that dance regularly in the dancehalls (milongas) in Buenos Aires, (milongueros and milongueras) just say that ‘life’ happens there.
In the milongas, people socialize, listen to tango music from the Golden Age (1940’s), dance a soft intimate style of tango that mainly plays with walks and turns moving in spirals that is respectful of all the participants.
Often people have bottles of champagne on their little tables in buckets of ice, tall glasses of Fernet-Branca and Coke, or plastic bottles of water with accompanying glasses. The table often includes mints and even hand santizer nowadays.
Upon entering the milonga people pay an entrance fee (minimal) and are escorted to a seat assigned by the milonga organizer. Oftentimes the ladies are seated on one side of the room and gentleman on the other. This facilitates the non-verbal invitations to dance of looking and nodding (mirar, cabeceo).
People are there to have a great time and they make every effort to be well-dressed and perfumed.
The Argentine tango social dance scene is full of passion and sparkles.
This alternate world thrives, it pulses and keeps everyone part of it desiring more.
Please also see “The end of a beautiful evening”…
All my life three passions have been travelling with me from inception. Music, dance and art. No matter what, they have kept me inspired and always with the desire to seek out more.
At a very young age with a family that believed in the arts, the road has been a very compelling one.
The joy of the arts has been fundamental. Building on a strong familial theme of continuing education, for life, I have found myself getting as much out of participating in classes as constructing and teaching them.
A lifelong pattern of studying something deeply that you love and then share the essence of it with others emerged.
Inspiring a few along the way is thrilling.
Hence the blog, in this medium I hope to affect, motivate, share my experiences, reflect, and share my passion of Argentine tango.
Thanks for visiting us and we hope all of you follow (or continue to follow) your passions towards happiness in the New Year.
Please enjoy this beautiful tango vals by Osvaldo Pugliese, Navidad.
Having had the pleasure of watching Alberto Dassieu for years in the milongas in Buenos Aires and dancing with him upon hearing he was doing a North American tour in 2011 with a stop in Toronto the idea of taking a private class with him struck home. What would we talk about, dance, what did I want the legend to share with me?
Upon reflection the easiest course that came to mind for me was hoping he would share a little bit of his insights into the orchestra Carlos di Sarli. Of course he would have some interesting views on the topic and want to include me in on them with his long experience.
The class was very interesting and right after we danced one beautiful tango Alberto honoured me with the invitation to do some demonstations with him in Toronto.
Even though we didn’t have the opportunity to ever practise together; when our chance came to share a beautiful tango at a milonga, Alberto was utterly clear with the vision that we should dance the Tango “Llueve otra vez”.
Thank you for sharing a little with me Alberto Dassieu, a true Maestro.
About the music:
Llueve otra vez
Música: Juan José Guichandut
Letra: Juan José Guichandut
el eco de su voz…
Escucha, corazón, está lloviendo
y la lluvia va tejiendo
los recuerdos de su amor.
¡Qué pena, corazón!
No es ella, ni es su voz.
Tan sólo es la obsesión que me domina,
el recuerdo que castiga
desde su adiós.
y un látigo de luz me azota,
relámpago de fiebre loca.
La lluvia, sin cesar,
golpeando en el cristal,
renueva la emoción perdida.
Y entre la bruma creo ver su imagen,
igual que entonces, diciendo adiós.
y el cielo se llenó de sombras,
lo mismo que mi corazón.
Tristeza que dejó
el eco de su voz.
Tristeza de esperar inútilmente
y creer que nuevamente
con la lluvia volverá.
¡No esperes, corazón!
¡No penes por su amor!
Mañana cuando el sol radiante asome
al calor de otros amores,
It’s past three a.m. at the Sunday night milonga (dance) during the Midwest Tango Festival held in Indianapolis for the first time this year.
Sitting close to the steamed up windows and feeling cold, exhausted from dancing tango all weekend and Dj’ing the Sunday late afternoon practica earlier, an intrepid ‘lead’ stands close by.
She skillfully looks at me with her mirada (look) and then cabeceo’s (nods at) me and I pretend that perhaps she is looking at the non-existent person sitting on the chair behind me. Both of us laugh, embrace, and quickly become one within the romantic Golden Age music that is enveloping us.
We are profoundly drawn into the fabric of the vocal line and accompaniment. As soon as the first song of the tanda (grouping) ends we look at each other with wonderment, surprise and deep emotion.
When two people connect so deeply, chest to chest, and breathe in unison with each other and the music, our bodies fuse together to become a kind of musical instrument and float away into another realm.
Only to come back to earth at the end of the tanda.
To some, the milongas used to be a place of hidden encounters with friends and lovers. No-one ever really spoke about the goings on and it was like what people say about Las Vegas….what happens in Vegas….stays in Vegas.
Many participants would drop in on their way home from work and no-one ever knew. Others might have clandestine relationships that only people within the milonga saw.
This only made the milongas more fascinating and tempting. An underworld of hidden riches waiting to be found.
Cachirulo in Obelisco Tango Saturday night was almost bursting at the seams.
Grand tango social dancers were in attendance and appeared to be chomping at the bit to get themselves on the dance floor as Carlos Rey played his delightful music selections. But, wait…the locals were looking somewhat frustrated by the lack of navigation, circulation and floor craft. Some were clearly not using mirada/cabeceo. A few regulars were probably thinking twice about getting out there on the slick dance floor with some very enthusiastic participants that didn’t seem to know the ABC’s of Buenos Aires tango social dance floor craft.
In 2005, while dancing tango in Salon Canning, one of the old milongueros told me it was the ‘honour’ of the milonguero to ‘never’ touch anyone on the dance floor. Once he made me aware of this it was wonderful to have that realized beautifully on the dance floor. We were on this brilliant square wood floor in and amongst every kind of tango dancer and….low and behold…had never touched anyone and were able to circulate with the group in the ronda.
Magnificent and safe!
To move as a group and feel phrases of the music and breathe together as a community……incredible!
On Saturday evening even with the fear of people bumping into each other and the floor being somewhat slippery, it was great fun. The celebrations culminated for me with an invitation to dance for my birthday by Hector and Norma of Los Cachirulos Tango.
Magnificent Claudio Strang agreed to dance with me.
Thank you to everyone who sat through the demonstration and honoured us with their presence.
We danced Telón by Osvaldo Fresedo 1938.
Telón, telón de la comedia
que empezó con un cantar
y que le dio final tu desamor.
Final atroz de ver la soledad
en el rincón del cuchitril
que un día enloqueció tu folletín.
Dolor de ver morir una esperanza,
sueño de Pierrot,
que al despertar se vio bufón.
Telón brutal que a la ilusión le dio un final
el día en que tu amor
se fue con el vaivén del vendaval.
I step, swirl, pivot, turn and glide in a trance like state.
We breathe together and allow our bodies to melt into the music and absorb the vocal and instrumental lines.
Together we unite as collaborative partners in this realm and dance our beloved tango.
Do you ever wonder how musicians create a piece of music like the tango “Margo” and make it so haunting and beautiful?
The mood within this piece simply begs to be danced slowly and with heart.
Each time I listen to the alluring orchestral introduction which quickly runs into the wonderful vocal melody, my mood becomes melancholy, wistful, and somehow this even slows me down.
The introduction prepares one for the story that is about to unfold musically and in the lyrics.
The musicians that created these gems, loved music. They also loved tango. From this base they chose each music note with great care and respect.
The 1940’s must of been a thrilling time for tango musicians.
If we listen very carefully to the music we can almost imagine our friends from so long ago dancing with us.
Join us on Wednesday February 19th at WE Tango to welcome Claudio Strang to Toronto and take part in a special class that will focus on dancing milonga. (How appropriate at a milonga hosted by John Needham!)
A series of classes & workshops will be held throughout February. Please join Isabella and Claudio and take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn their beloved ‘close embrace’ Tango.”
Claudio and Isabella dance the beautiful close embrace style of Tango that reflects the intimacy of the downtown milongas in Buenos Aires. Their simplicity, elegance and passion can be seen in this recent demonstration that was filmed in Cachirulo, El Beso as a ‘despedida’ for Isabella.”