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!