Upcoming MDC: 17 July 2010

We start to have Milonga del Corazón because our hearts are truly in tango. We'd like to offer a space where people in Hong Kong can experience the milongas in Buenos Aires - dancing in a cosy place with traditional tango music. We may not be able to offer grand and historical dance hall that like Salon Canning and Niño Bien, but we pay the greatest respect to the classical music like most milongas in Buenos Aires do. We carefully arrange and select the most danceable music in our milonga, as we believe that one of the keys to understand tango is to dance with the most sophisticated music in the tango history. We wish you enjoy dancing in our milonga, and experience the unique sensations that derived from embracing with the tango music from the golden era. 我們開始辨 Milonga del Corazón 是因為我們真的心愛探戈。我們希望在香港提供一個可以體驗布宜諾斯艾利斯milonga的地方﹣在有傳統探戈音樂的舒適氣氛下跳舞。我們或許不能提供像Salon Canning 或 Niño Bien那種有氣派有悠久歷史的舞池,但我們像布宜諾斯艾利斯大部份Milonga一樣十分尊重傳統的探戈音樂。我們精心安排和挑選最適合跳舞的音樂,因為我們深信要了解探戈其中之一的關鍵便是跟探戈歷史中最有深度的音樂跳舞。我們希望你喜歡在我們的Milonga跳舞,並體會到擁抱經典探戈音樂所帶來的奇妙感覺。 Emily and Coleman

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tanda - Why and How to make use of it - by Emily

Tanda is a set of tango music, usually consisted of 3-5 pieces. A serious tango dj usually selects songs of the same orchestra, same period, same pace or even the same quality sound for a tanda. I am not going to discuss how to make a tanda here, as my friend, Royce (my first tango teacher and the one who inspired me to be a tango dj) has written on this. For those who want to know more about this area, I highly recommand her article, "The Making of a Tanda" on her blog - http://www.loksze.com/thoughts/2006/11/

We all know about tanda. Most of you may have heard how I make a tanda in Milonga del Corazon and have danced to it. Then, why do we need songs to be arranged in tandas in a milonga? Do we simply mimic the tradition of the milongas in Buenos Aires? Do we really need it? And why? How can we manipulate the tanda and benefit from it?

Imagine a milonga without the use of tanda - one simply plays the music ramdomly without considering the genre, the orchestra, the year of recording, the pace and the sound quality- probably a modern milonga after a traditional vals, an up-tempo electro tango after a lyrical traditional tango...or of any combinations that can be made. For me, it is like having a meal without considering when differernt dishes should be served, like having a starter after enjoying a dessert. Would your enjoy having a light salad after having a rich chocolate cheese cake? I am sure you cannot enjoy the meal in the same level as in the way that the dishes are served in a better timing, even given that the dishes are nicely cooked. Of course this also very much depends on personal taste, but why don't we request more if we can have a better atmosphere where most people can dance in a more comfortable way? In Milonga del Corazon, we aim at being a serious french chef, carefully arrange a sophisticated 9-courses-meal for all of you, while your stomach can comfortably enjoy all the delicious dishes!

Playing tango music with the use of tanda is a trick to help creating an atmosphere or a kind of mood, which allows one can dance more comfortably. Our psychological status can be affected by the music that we hear. That is the reason why we are adviced to listen to some calm, relax and slow pace music if we suffer from insomnia, and there are many psychologists heal their patients with music. Our mood also varies when we hear differernt kinds of tango music.

Let's take milonga as an example. When you hears a piece of milonga, especially when you like that pieces of music, your mind will natually move with the energetic and up-tempo music. This status of mind will not ceased in just about 3 minute time (most tango /vals/milonga lasts around 2 mins more to 3 mins), especially if you hear some real good milongas like those of Canaro and D'arienzo and you have a good partner who dances milonga very well!. You become excited with the pace of milonga, and may expect to hear/dance to one or two more after the first one. Of course, your body will be exhausted after dancing 3 or 4 milongas. You may want to take a break (this is the time when a cortina should be played), and to dance to some music which is less demanding comparing with the milonga. This happens the same when you hear tango or vals.

In this case, the use of tanda in fact helps creating a smooth and comfortable atmosphere for dancers. Offering too much changes of music, either frequent changes of orchestra, genre, pace, time period or sound quality, will create creating a lot of interventions to the dancers. I am sure your ears do not welcome too much disturbances when you are embracing / holding hands of a lovely partner!

Tanda also helps beginners to dance in a milonga, since most tango songs are new to them, it will be just too much for them if their ears have to adapt to every pieces being played, without any idea of which kind of music will be played next.

The use of tanda helps one enjoys a milonga better also because dancers can choose their partners in a more efficient way. For example, in A's mind, B is a very good dancer dancing to energetic and rhythmic music. When A hears D'arienzo's music, A thinks of B immediately and approaches B for a dance. Imagine in a milonga without tanda, after A danced to one rhythmic pieces of D'arienzo with B , the dj plays a dramatic piece of pugliese! Unfortunately, A is a is not a fan of pugliese and is not good at dancing to emotional and melodic music at all! Both A & B suffers because it is just too impolite to reject each other after dancing only one song together!

If the dj plays music according to the rules of tanda, when you hear a piece of D'arienzo's after the cortina, it is guarenteed that the coming three or four pieces will also be D'arienzo's pieces, (even recorded in more or less the same period of time and of the same sound quality if the dj is a serious one). It is a lot more convenient for you too choose the most appropriate partner to dance to the music that you like.

Since tanda usually consists of 3-5 songs, you can choose to invite a partner that you don't feel confident with in a better timing. For example, if you are a beginner, you always want to invite an advanced dancer for a dance. Nevertheless, you are very timid because you are always afraid to be rejected. Then you can invite him/her after the first or the second song of the tanda has been played. Very often, many advanced dancers will not reject their less preferred partners if they don't have to dance the whole tanda with them(unless he/she is really picky and snob!) Some of you may feel sad to read this, but I'm sorry to tell you that this is very true in many tango communities! Sometimes, when an advanced dancer is invited by their less preferred partners for a dance when the first song of a tanda is played, they may reply, "how about if we dance after this song?" To avoid hearing this, you can seize the correct timing to invite your desired partner in a milonga where tanda is arranged. I know some leaders will only invite unknown followers when the 2nd and the 3rd song of a tanda is being played, so it is less risky for them if later they find out that don't like to dance with them...(poor followers....) Of course if they like dance with you, I'm sure he will dance with you for more tandas!

I know that some real good followers in Buenos Aires, they will wait for their favourite leaders to invite them when the tanda just begins. They will only accept the invitation from their less favourite partners if no one invites them after the first song is played!

Some of you may say, "I'm a buffet lover and enjoy hearing differernt sorts of music at any time and don't want any rules at all!" Well, my response to this is, a milonga is a dancing space for a lot of people of differernt levels and styles, and I need to concern the needs for all of them! Since tanda is a generic way of arranging music in major milongas of many well-established tango communities all over the world (like those in BsAs, Italy, Spain, U.S....), most visiters and local dancers who have danced in other cities can easily enjoy themselves in a milonga where tanda is used. It also helps most local dancers to get used to this generic form of djing, so they won't feel strange at all when they have to dance to a tanda when they are in BsAs one day! So, why not tanda if it helps dancers in many ways? (though it requires a lot more time, effort and money........)

I wish you now have a better understanding of the importance of having tandas in a milonga. Hope all of you can enjoy as much as you can in Milonga del Corazon! If this happens I will be more than happy to spend my time and effort!


Milonga del Corazón said...

Emily's writing on "tanda" is very interesting, really. I have heard a few versions about the use of and reasons for tanda and cortina in a proper tango party, and how it was done in BsAs. But I have never thought of a better way to explain it by drawing an analogy to a "proper meals with a few courses" etc. This is a very appropriate analogy in my opinion, and it touches right the core of the entire issue - tangoing by hearts. I listened to tango music, be touched and inspired by it, and then I make my body (not just the feet) move to interpret my feeling. So how I dance in one night is significantly affected by how a DJ structures his/her music throughout the night. I remembered I went to a DJ workshop by Eric from Netherland some two years ago at Ann Geis's place. He also explained the use of tanda in similar way, and also explained the reason for tanda and cortina.

The bit Emily wrote on the making use of the number of songs played in a tanda in inviting someone to dance, or how important tanda is for someone to decide to dance to the kind of music that she/he is familiar and more comfortable with also reflects the practical function of tanda.

All I can say is that Cortina, the short-lasting (sometimes just 10 seconds) piece of "curtain" music played at end of one tanda and before the next tanda begins is also a good time for leaders and followers to communicate on the floor. I personally don't like people chatting and talking when dancing in a milonga, absolutely disturbing, not to mention mobile phone ringing and answering, but I also see how a little chit-chat between partners can be a very nice ice-breaker. Cortina is the best time to do this kind of verbal socialising.


Royce Chau said...

I like your "meals" comparison when you talk about tanda. The importance of having different courses in a meal shows how tandas function in a milonga.

At the end of your article, you mentioned that "(some people is) a buffet lover and enjoy hearing differernt sorts of music at any time and don't want any rules at all!" I think for most of these people, what they really enjoy is the variety choices of food but not really the meal without order. I believe those who eat without "proper" order are minority. I guess that happens the same to tango dancers. I know many tango dancers love to dance on different types of music, no matter it's traditional tango or electronic tango, or sometimes even non-tango music, but I don't know many of them like being in a milonga where music are played without any obvious order or sequence.

billie =) said...

Emily, i enjoyed reading your blog on tanda a lot! It's thought provoking & inspirational!

I started taking up tango lessons 7 months ago out of my love for the tango music & have ever since got sooooo addicted to it. Your writing definitely allows me to appreciate more of the hard work you put into DJ-ing @ Milonga del Corazon!

Keep up the good work ... & of course keep writing MORE!!!

Louis said...

Interesting use of the buffet analogy to explain the concept of tandas, which I totally agree! By the way, I have also coined the term "tango buffet" in the past, but only in the context of choosing which songs to dance to. Cheers.