Saturday, September 22, 2007

More on this subject...

Not more on the subject of an already small and contracting tango community (which I will delve into eventually), but more on the subject of traditional tango vs. alt tango music.

First, I need to clarify that it wasn't "no tango at all" at the practica the other night, but someone clarified it for me that it was "almost no tango" or "very little tango" music being played. But still, it pisses me off.

When I was in Buenos Aires this past April, I did not hear one alternative, non-traditional tango being played - never ever in 14 days. The small group I was with attended primarily traditional milongas - and they never played anything but traditional music.

I think the issue is that some people just don't "get" tango music. The people that were hosting the practica in question the other night dance other dances also - swing, swango, ballroomy stuff, etc. I honestly don't think they have ever learned to appreciate tango music - its depth, its complexity, its history. I don't think they have ever really tried.

When I hear a song, and listen to the various instruments being played, I form a mental picture of the original orchestra playing it, live, with people dancing in a milonga. The orchestra is there, the room is surging with the energy of the music, the dancers and the orchestra. Some songs (depending on my mood), actually bring tears to my eyes - Malena, the original version I have of La Cumparsita (did you know there were two lyric versions?), and sometimes Fresedo's Vida Mia. Most of the other really good ones just make the hair stand up on the back of my neck - that sounds wrong - negative - they send chills up and down my spine - there, that's better.

Anywho (big grin), and truth be told I didn't like tango music at first. I didn't "get" it. But I tried to - I listened to tango alot. I sought out videos and CD's. I bought an iPod and started downloading and purchasing music wherever I could find it. I listened and listened and listened. It took about 6 months or so for me to really begin to appreciate it. It took about a year for me to totally (almost) swear off nuevo/alt during milongas.

Don't get me wrong - I love nuevo/alt. But it should played and danced in the proper context. I love Jimi Hendrix' "Hey Joe", "El Tango de Roxanne" from Moulin Rouge, "Every Little Thing About You" by Raul Malo & The Mavericks. All very danceable and fun - but they are just not the same as tango.

Ultimately it boils down to this - and I am speaking only of our little community - if you are not dancing tango (after six years of trying) - and you are not interested in playing tango music - then why bother to call it tango? And damn sure don't call it an Argentine Tango Practica.

I am putting my money where my mouth is and hosting the practica myself next week. It will be billed as an "all traditional tango" practica. No alt/nuevo to be played at all. Continuous music with tandas & cortinas. A traditional tanda structure of T-T-V-T-T-M, but with two song tandas to facilitate the feel of a practica versus a milonga. Line of dance, cabeceo, navigation and other codigos/floorcraft will be observed. In other words, a practica, but in the context of social dancing. Focus on your current favorite issue/problem/dilemma - but dance it out. Dance through it - no stopping and starting and very little talking - lead it - follow it - as they like to say, "shut up and dance".

Part of our problem here is we have so little time on the floor - whether it be classes, practicas or milongas. My feeling is that it's better to spend time dancing and working on "stuff". If you need to work on ocho cortados - then dance - doing a lot of ocho cortados - in the context of the dance - and in the context of doing everything else, but focusing on ocho cortados, and in the context of traditional codigos, floorcraft, tandas, etc. It's like you have to practice everything all at once - right?

'Nuf said...I am beating the proverbial dead horse...thanks for letting me vent...

1 comment:

another alex said...

Completely agree. We are doing it for 6 years, going 7. Nuevo is a wonderful dance, but NOT argentine tango. Some ask - why bother, who cares? But I feel like I have to preserve the spirit, at least in myself.
Love your blog :)