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”…
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.
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.
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.”
On my last Saturday night in Cachirulo Obelisco, Buenos Aires last September, Hector (the famous, flamboyant organizer) came up to me and invited me to dance a “despedida” dance in Cachirulo El Beso on the following Tuesday and did I have someone in mind I would like to dance a Tango with.
The invitation was accepted, eagerly, and of course I had someone in mind to dance with me.
Who else but Claudio Strang this year?
He accepted….now the only thing left to decide was which Tango would we dance. Well, this is quite a difficult question if you love to dance Tango. Which one? Should the tempo be slow..or fast? Melodic or rhythmic? Which orchestra? Vocal or instrumental? And let’s not forget having both partners agree to the same selection.
Fortunately we had planned to get together anyway and film a few videos so we thought some tango would spring to mind and it would be relatively easy to come up with a selection. During our filming we decided it would be nice to dance Pocas palabras by Tanturi/Castillo.
Having gotten to El Beso later than usual for me, after dancing one tanda, Hector came up to me and said that after the next tanda we would do the demo. He wanted us to dance earlier than usual because there probably would be a lot of people that wanted to leave early as there was an important football match on.
Claudio and I are introduced, everyone is told it is my ‘despedida’ (good-bye or farewell) and the music comes on.
Well both Claudio and I look at each other with surprise as the first notes are played….we laugh, embrace and begin our fun.
Talk about an improvisation.
With all the best planning in the world anything can happen in Buenos Aires. As the first notes echoed out we realized that someone misunderstood which song we would dance…instead of dancing Pocas palabras by Tanturi…we heard Siete palabras by Di Sarli, which we had never even danced to before together!
We had a good time and having danced many years in Cachirulo El Beso, it felt great to have to a chance to dance in front of many friends and the incredible wonderful dancers that go there regularly.
Thanks again to Hector and Norma of Cachirulo.
Thrilling….to be on the dance floor in North America with hundreds of people dancing tango. A floor so immense it never actually looked really crowded. Tons of dancers dancing and trying to stay in some kind of lanes. People moving in completely different styles but respecting the available space and moving in a soft way. This was delightful. The vibe, energy, mood was great. Everyone looked like they were truly enjoying themselves. Lovely!!
Here is a clip of the ronda featuring the Festival Instructors….showing a great deal of enthusiasm and fun in this Canaro milonga.
I also had the great pleasure of working with Paul Akmajian as guest teachers at the festival… and enjoyed our classes, as always, very much.
Pam and John … founders of We Tango … are taking some time off and luckily a few friends of mine gently suggested that I should offer to help them out. To my surprise the ever gracious couple have taken me up on my offer and here I go again … back at Swansea Town Hall.
Please join me on Wednesday nights, from 8p.m. to 10:45p.m. to share some beautiful music, friends and “charla”.
See you there!