What the tango?

Whether you are a dancer coming to my milonga, or an organizer of a tango event, you should know what I stand for. What you can expect.

Think about how people dance to Canaro, Di Sarli, D'Arienzo. See those movements? I like to see them, too, when I watch people dance to my sets.

What about the emotions? Those brought about by Caló, Troilo, or Pugliese? Absolutely! Those are the pure tango emotions. I love watching people share them on the dance floor.

There's certain aesthetics and mood to tango that is in my view immutable. The classics have captured it perfectly and we call their epoch the "Golden age".

My view is that it did not die with them. Despite many struggles and decades of decline, tango somehow managed to survive. And I'm very much interested in seeing it live and thrive.

The music I seek to play is rooted in the classics. And unlike them, it's not dead.

What do you mean, Tom? You don't play any of the dead stuff?

Look, tango is a certain mindset. You've got the feel for it or you don't. It's not like you could just as well go dance salsa or swing and go home feeling pretty much the same.

We most often dance to the Golden age because that's when the (barely adequate but somehow still usable) recording technology of the era captured the avalanche of the already active orchestras who catered to then-active cohort of dancers... who, after a while, went elsewhere for their entertainment.

Does it mean we have to travel in time to dance with them, all the time?

My answer is, let's go back from time to time, if only because there's so much good stuff there. And then return to the 21st century, for there's a lot awaiting us right here, right now.

The Golden Age still represents between 40-60% of my sets, depending on occassion. The rest is unevenly distributed between my beloved lyrical 1950s and contemporary, acoustic tangos.

It all starts with the classics but does not end there. What was once lost is not lost anymore. Tango is alive again.

My DJ guidelines

  1. Respect for the community. I want to take my dancers on an adventure that they can enjoy, and so I develop my set as the event unfolds, in a way that everyone can take part and enjoy themselves.
  2. Respect for tradition. I use the standard TTVTTM format and strive to make cohesive, fluent tandas that have a storyline with a beginning, middle, and end. That said, I don't take the narrative too seriously.
  3. Curiosity. I am open to danceable tango music from all eras, and I actively try to connect the tradition to the present. To that end, I feature contemporary bands that play for the milongueros as much as I can.

Traditional, or nuevo ... or both?

Tradition is something rooted in history yet open to interpretation and change. Once closed, it becomes a cult. Hence I consider myself to be a traditionalist who is very keen on keeping the tradition alive and evolving.

I resist associating with the nuevo brand. What I look in a new tango music is the same kind of movement that the bands of the golden era have inspired. If the music provokes movements that would suggest another genre, I don't use it.

Thus my typical set would feature music from the 40s, 50s, 60s as well as 2000s - all of it acoustic, in arrangements that are most suitable for dancing.

When there's a milonga time, there will be milongas in the tanda, and not foxtrots or Hugo Díaz. Valses will be valses, in the right tempo and with the right kick.

There might be an occasional tanda of Otros Aires, or something totally crazy... when the mood is right. Most of the time, only tangos.

As of 2020, I've taken first steps into neo-tango and am currently experimenting with a more cross-over format. My values stay the same but my window of musical taste has opened wider.

Final notes

This blog represents the evolution of my thinking better than this page alone. When I feel like it's no longer telling a true enough story, I update it.

If you are a dancer and come to my milongas, you already know better than I can describe what my DJing approach is.

If you are organizer and would like to consider me for your event, get in touch via e-mail and let's have a chat.

Abrazos!