It's milonga time!
It does not necessarily have to be as dramatic as that, mind you, but sharp - sharp is good. Helps me to keep up with the beat and build up the tension inside. Here's one that's very sharp and also cheerful, a blessed combination.
Other times, though, I like them relaxed and easygoing. And it is for these times that I have put together this tanda.
1) La milonga de B.A (Cuarteto Tafí c. Leonor Harispe, 2013)
2) De todas las cosas (Piraña c. Romina Grosso, 2019)
3) Se dice de mí (Tango de Minas c. Ursula Cuesta, 2018)
As you can see right away, there are two milongas that are very well know, while the middle one sticks out as an original. Together, though, they share a common theme - I close my eyes and imagine I am in some small Argentine town, gathered around a fire while the local musicians are playing for an audience that is progressively drunker and drunker.
I can certainly imagine whatever I please but would this work for dancing?
La milonga de B.A by Cuarteto Tafí starts with a laugh but is tight, compact, and relentlessly driven. Cuarteto Tafí is my current obsession, even as they don't generally play tangos at all, and I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to put them in my progressive mixes and as you can see, I did it again here.
De todas las cosas emphasize good mood and turn down the drive. The beat is regular and not nearly as demanding. The dancers will have a chance to catch a breath and have some uncomplicated fun.
I admit that the transition from the second to the final song is problematic as Se dice de mí starts with an intro. I don't like slow intros anywhere besides the very first track in a tanda, or if there's no other way, then in every song within the tanda. Also, while the first and second track have guitars as the defining element, the last one doesn't.
What might hold this together as a somewhat cohesive tanda would for me be the overall character of the songs. They are all throwing jokes around, especially the first and last. The instruments used (guitars in the first two, the percussion in the third) are evocative of the "outdoor gathering / pub" atmosphere. Not yet sure how to put it in words, so bear with me.
Se dice de mí is pretty wild in terms of the rhythmical flow, with all the rubatos inside, so I think it could only ever work as the last one in a tanda. The leader will pay a tax by having to break suddenly to keep up with the phrasing changes but I think the fun inside is worth it.
Overall, I would play this on my progressive events without worrying too much about it. Maybe not as the first milonga tanda, but second or later, why not? I would not play it on more traditional milongas at all. Not worth the lynching thereafter 🤣 Then again, I don't see myself DJing pure 1930s-1940s anytime soon.
image credit goes to Andrey Zvyagintsev