Friday, November 28, 2008

I couldn't bear to watch, check your ballroom dynamism at the door, or I ate too much...

The following post is laced with profanity. Mostly the F word. Okay, only the F word.

NOTES TO FESTIVAL/MILONGA ORGANIZERS ::

As the organizer, the buck stops with you. Just because it's your Nth annual event, doesn't mean you can sit back and rest on your laurels.

Observe with a critical eye.

Listen with a critical ear.

Feel the energy of the room with your heart and soul.

Feel the temperature of the room with your skin. From meat locker one night, to muggy, subtropical evening the next is indicative of a problem. Make sure you've got the building engineer or facilities guy on a short leash. If guys are shedding jackets and changing into dry shirts in the men's room - check the T-stat.

Get rid of the fucking plastic wrist bands. The implied/default assumption that people are going to try to steal from you - steal a milonga, or steal a class, is insulting. Tango people don't steal tango. If a few do, fuck them, but don't fuck with the rest of us. Tickets or badges or a list or even a stamp on the hand are the best - least obtrusive.

I'm stopping here, not sure of where to go with this...each year bring in someone with a fresh viewpoint and tweak things...with a "continuous improvement" mindset and approach...and don't lose sight of the fact that your festival is for the dancers, not the teachers, not the DJ's and especially not you.



NOTES TO STUDENTS/DANCERS ::

DO NOT EVER TEACH OR WORK THROUGH 'MOVES' ON THE DANCE FLOOR AT A SOCIAL MILONGA. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING YOURSELF, AND YOU ARE EMBARRASSING THE WOMAN YOU ARE DANCING WITH. WE ARE EMBARRASSED FOR YOU, AND FEEL SORRY FOR HER.

Do not ever teach or work through 'moves' with your partner [you just learned in class today] in the corner, off the dance floor, at a social milonga.

TANGO IS NOT BALLROOM. TANGO IS NOT SWING. TANGO IS NOT SWANGO. TANGO IS NOT SALSA. TANGO IS NOT TWO-STEP. TANGO IS NOT MERENGUE. TANGO IS NOT BACHATA. TANGO IS NOT MAMBO. NONE OF THESE DANCES OFFER ANYTHING, ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING, THAT CAN BE TRANSFERRED OR CARRIED OVER TO TANGO. THIS MEANS CHECK YOUR BALLROOM DYNAMISM AT THE DOOR, AMONG OTHER THINGS.

EL TANGO ES EL TANGO. Google it, do the research, and figure it the fuck out.

In a social milonga setting, do not lean against the wall and do ballet type stretching and leg swinging. Even if you are an old fart. If you need to warm up and stretch, do it in your hotel room, outside where no one will see you, or in the privacy of a toilet stall after you've taken a dump.

Wash your fucking hands when you leave the bathroom. With soap. Your followers and the leaders who dance with them after you do will appreciate it.

Ladies, do not hold on to a chair and do boleos to warm up before dancing at a milonga. This is a turn off.

For festival milongas, go buy some black slacks at WalMart for $19.95. Jeans are a sign of your lack of respect for all that tango is, dude. Especially the high waisted Wranglers, cowboy. Do the jeans at local milongas, practicas, and classes, no problem. Tango is supposed to be elegant and beautiful. Jeans ain't elegant nor beautiful.

If you can't tell by now, I am in a mood.

Your woman just wants to dance. Dance her. Dance with her. Do your best to make her feel special. Purge all thoughts of yourself, your 'self', your feet, your 'moves', the figures you just learned today. That stuff will sink in - in time - with practice - with dancing - with sleeping - but not tonight. Be present with that woman in your embrace. The Power of Now.


NOTES TO DJ's AND ASPIRING DJ's ::

Think "Top 40".

You know the dance, the feeling, is totally inspired by/from/of the music. Play music that inspires, that makes people get up and want to dance.

Like it or not, you are educating the newbies. If they learn to dance to crap, they will dance like crap, and they will only want to hear crap. Don't play crap no one's ever heard before. We don't want to dance to the music you like. We want to dance to the music WE like. If it's something new and unusual, just make sure it's good. Damn good.

Invest in your music collection. Make the acquisitions. Spend the $2k to travel to Buenos Aires and listen to what they play there. Spend the $1k on music while you're there. Spend another $1k on more stuff once you're back home. Beg, borrow or steal everything else. Pay attention to what all the other DJ's are playing. Do the research. Do the hard work categorizing everything. Do the hard work listening to EVERYTHING in your collection. Do the hard work. If your collection is not there, if it's weak, if the hard work has not been done, then you are not a DJ and do not offer yourself as such - especially at the festival level.

For a milonga that goes until 3am, playing nuevo/alt music at midnight is too soon. This is a TANGO festival. People have traveled far and wide at great expense to listen to TANGO music and dance EL TANGO.

If you must play nuevo/alt music, play music that is tango danceable. Look for a 4 beat. It's not a good sign if your nuevo song has half the dancers dancing swing or some swango aberration. Nuevo/alt music should inspire nuevo and/or traditional tango, not some other dance. Again, this is a TANGO festival.

Re: Milonga tandas - there are not that many milonga tandas in an evening. There are a great many FANTASTIC milonga songs. If you are playing foursies in a TTVTTM format, there will be three milongas per hour. In a six hour milonga, usually the max, you are looking for 18-20 top shelf milonga songs. Don't play some 'off' crap we've never heard.

If lots of people are sitting, this is a bad sign. If almost no one is sitting, this is a good sign. If the people staying until the very end do not want to sit down or stop dancing, this is a good sign. If the crowd appears to be thinning early-ish, or people are noticeably just getting up and leaving, this is a bad sign.



IMPORTANT NOTE ::

I am NOT an authority on tango, milongas, festivals, DJ'ing, teaching, learning, etc. Take this with a grain of salt. This is my personal opinion, mis dos centavos. I ate too much and woke up from a bad dream about hammerhead sharks trying to eat me and I should have just gone back to sleep.

Oh well...there ya have it.

I did have one excellent vals tanda with a good friend tonight, and then I left.

5 comments:

Claudita said...

Ooops....BRAVO! I'm glad other people get in a mood, too...

n a n c y said...

COME ON, ALEX. TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL. ;-)

Johanna said...

Had a blast, did ya?

Dirt Road Girl said...

You're so punkishly heroic...

Alex said...

I forgot to include these two:

A green room with coffee, soft drinks, juice, fruit, muffins, cookies, sofas, a couple of small tables, and WiFi access...payment on the honors system...or catered by the hotel if they insist...

A dedicated practice room with a boombox, chained to a table if needed...with a few cd's...