Dancing to the music of time

2016 January 29
by Simba

But among so many lessons, with so many teachers, I find contradictions and clichés. My feet are shovels; my feet are paintbrushes. My feet must caress the floor, intensely; my feet are too firm against the floorboards. My embrace must be close, like the embrace of a lover; my embrace must leave space for the tension between us. I am a cat, I am a lion, I am a horse-rider. Carina tells me I need to work on my ochos. “There is no such thing as an ocho,” says Oscar Casas, at our next lesson. There is only a change in direction, that’s all.

A refreshingly unclichéd take on dancing tango in Buenos Aires. (In Argentina, tango is a way of life, as Tara Isabella Burton discovered when she went to Buenos Aires, following in her grandmother’s footsteps, from Intelligent Life Magazine)

Los estilos fundamentales del tango por Ignacio Varchausky | Alfredo Gobbi

2015 October 26

The Gobbi seminar video is up!

Podestá Godoy, cantores | Documentary

2015 October 7

A new documentary on tango singers Alberto Podestá and Juan Carlos Godoy by Daniel Tonelli and Marcelo Turrisi looks interesting. Hope it gets released on dvd or video on demand.

HT: Janis

Los estilos fundamentales del tango por Ignacio Varchausky | Horacio Salgán

2015 September 19

This time with video. Enjoy!

Our Last Tango — Copes y Nieves

2015 September 10

Now this looks like something to look forward to:

In „Our Last Tango“ Juan and María tell their story to a group of young tango dancers and choreographers from Buenos Aires, who transform the most beautiful, moving and dramatic moments of Juan and Maria’s lives into incredible tango-choreographies.  These beautifully-shot choreographies compliment the soul-searching interviews and documentary moments of the film to make this an unforgettable journey into the heart of the tango.

Read more about Our Last Tango (Un tango más) here. Link to the trailer.

Los estilos fundamentales del tango por Ignacio Varchausky

2015 August 23


Ignacio Varchausky is doing a series of very interesting seminars on the style of different tango orchestras. Audio recordings of the seminars have been released with links in the facebook comments, and that means an opportunity to listen to them even when very lejos de Buenos Aires. They are in Spanish though, so you need to follow spoken Spanish reasonably well to make any use of it.

Apparently, they build on a seminar similar to the one that inspired this post on how to listen to tango, so you might want to check out that first, if you haven’t already. There is one seminar dedicated to a single orchestra and what characterizes their style. Highly recommended. Obviously, if you’re in Buenos Aires on September 16, you should go to Centro Cultural Lola Mora at 7 PM.

Ignacio encourages sharing these in one of the seminars, because the purpose of the seminars is to spread knowledge of tango. Of course, this is right up my alley, so I couldn’t resist. All the original download links can be found in the comments of the facebook event, but some of them will expire and some are very large files. Therefore, I host some more reasonably sized versions below (~50-100 MB each, choose between AAC/m4a or slightly smaller Opus versions):

Enjoy! ¡Espero que los disfruten!

0. Música (Opus version)

1. Carlos Di Sarli (Opus version)

2. Juan D’Arienzo (Opus version)

3. Osvaldo Pugliese (Opus version)

4.1 Aníbal Troilo 1/2 (Opus version)

4.2 Aníbal Troilo 2/2 (Opus version)

5. Horacio Salgán (YouTube video)

6. Alfredo Gobbi (YouTube video)

EDIT 2015-11-19: Added first seminar about tango music in general and links to the YouTube-videos of the Salgán and Gobbi seminars. Also, the original event at Facebook expired, and there is now a Facebook-group for the series of seminars, get ready for a second run of seminars in 2016!

The Perfect Embrace

2015 February 14
by Simba
the dark side of the embrace by virgoh, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  virgoh 

Of course, this is nothing new to tango dancers, but understanding the mechanisms is interesting:

A caress feels best when it is delivered with a small amount of force and a speed of about 1 inch per second. Stroke slower, and it feels like an unwelcome crawling bug; faster, and it feels perfunctory rather than loving.

Perform your caress not on the glabrous skin of the palm or sole, but on the hairy skin of the limbs where the caress sensing fibers are found. Move your hand at about 1 inch per second, exert moderate force, don’t clutch a cold drink immediately beforehand, and you will optimally activate your partner’s caress-sensing fibers and then strongly excite the posterior insular region of your sweetheart’s brain. And for a moment, all will be right with the world.

Read the full article @ Slate.

Fermin, Glorias del Tango

2014 October 6
by Simba

Fermin, Glorias del Tango is now available for rental at Vimeo. Looks nice, I think. I haven’t had time to watch it, and I sort of wait for the download that was supposed to come with my Kickstarter support. Oh well.

EDIT: I worked it out with Oliver Kolker. Apparently I missed an email that was sent to all backers. Oliver promptly gave me access to the film and I experienced no further problems.


2014 September 25
by Simba
Kylie Minogue at the Hollywood Bowl, Oct by andy khouri, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  andy khouri 

Insights about tango may be found where you least suspect it. Slow down and dance with me… yeah..

Knew you’d be here tonight
So I put my best dress on
Boy I was so right

Our eyes connected
Now nothing’s how it used to be
No second guesses

Track in on this feeling
Pull focus close up you and me
Nobody’s leaving

Got me affected
Spun me 180 degrees
It’s so electric

Slow down and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…
Come on and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…

Don’t wanna rush it
Let the rhythm pull you in
It’s here so touch it

You know what I’m saying
And I haven’t said a thing
Keep the record playing

Slow down and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…
Come on and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…

Read my body language
Take it down, down

Slow down and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…
Come on and dance with me
Yeah… slow…
Skip a beat and move with my body
Yeah… slow…

Skip a beat and move with my body
Skip a beat and move with my body
Skip a beat and move with my body

The Rise of the Tango DJ

2014 September 5
by Simba
Daft Punks DJ Cover Set - Northampton, M by sebastien.barre, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  sebastien.barre 

I am thrilled to see the increased interest in djing and playing quality tango music for dancers the last few years. In trying to understand how it all came about, it is tempting to focus on the efforts of individuals to bring good dance music to their local community, but thereby we might miss the big  picture.

Technological and economic changes can be transformative. Some of the most famous examples from the world of tango are the invention of the electrical recorder/the microphone, the fierce competition between orchestras during the golden age of tango and the selective pressure following from men largely outnumbering women in the milongas as the dance developed. Without these environmental factors, tango, (and many other cultural expressions for that sake) would quite possibly have developed very differently. The inventions that have transformed the activity of tango djing, and thus the milongas and dancing in general all over the world, are incarnated in a single object: the laptop computer. However, there are several related technologies that became available and/or cheap enough at the same time: portable computers, (lossy) audio compression, and communication over the internet.

When a dinosaur like me started out, making tanda sets on writable cds, computers generally did not have a cd-rw drive, and very few people had access to  portable computers. (Although I feel tango-old sometimes, my djing doesn’t go back to the use of cassettes like Felix Picherna). That didn’t last long. Suddenly you could fit the selection of tangos that you would need for a milonga on a portable computer, using mp3 files. Information on how to dj could be shared over the internet. Even music files could be shared over the internet or among friends using portable disks. While I spent years building up even a basic cd collection of tango music, involving visits to Argentina and cumbersome mail ordering with lots and lots of red tape, I was almost shocked the first time I heard someone discuss how he just copied the entire music collection of another dj to help him start out as a dj.

Now, as other technological and economical change, this may have made life more difficult for the already established djs. The upside was that it became incredibly much easier for everybody else, and it generally led to more varied and over time to better music selection in the milongas around the world, at the very least in smaller communities.

As more and more people got access to the tango classics, the dj fanatics would dig out unknown jewels from various sources, or replace their beloved tracks with higher quality transfers to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Soon some of the ‘new’ songs became hits, and djs all over widened their selection. There is a flip side to this too, of course. Some songs get overplayed for a while, and some djs get carried away by the collector’s syndrome, trying to impress their fellow dancers with obscure, undanceble tracks (that really sounds like a good idea to impress dancers, right?). All in all that seems like a small problem compared to how overplayed a lot of music was when the selection was more  limited. Some djs consistently play crap, of course, but even they are often an improvement from playing the one available cd from El Bandoneón on repeat. The one which skips in the same place every time you play it. And with lower barriers to entry comes increased variety and competition. The dancers could simply move to the next dj that played nice tango music and leave the crap for an empty floor.

Today a beginner dancer or dj can start playing quality tango music from Spotify instantly that would take ages and cost a fortune to collect just 10-15 years ago.

So when djs that were a bit ahead of the curve think back to the time it felt like an endless walk in the desert trying to get the local tango community up to speed music wise: it turns out it was just the sea pulling back in the instant before the tsunami hit.