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The Kings of the Milonga | La Nacion

Feb 1st, 2011 by admin | 0


This following translation is made of Alberto Gesualdi. He translated a special report about tango DJs of Buenos Aires. He send it to the [TangoDJ]Group and I am allowed to publish it on my website too.

The magazine name is AND Cultura.

This is the translation of the article on “The Kings of the milonga” from Marina Gambier, it is about DJs, and djing, a tough work really, to make all people happy …..

Original article in La Nacion in Spanish.
(If you check this link, there are photos of many djs including Mario Orlando, also backstage milongas. On the photo of lady Plazaola, el flaco Danny is with her, a great milonguero friend of Gavito, he is teaching milonga con traspie this days.)

Albertos Comments

  • There are other related articles, on tango codes, and how to dance tango.
  • Please take all the comments of this journalist , not as the ultimate truth, but , as the English writer De Quincey wrote once …” a mode of truth, not of truth coherent and central, but angular and splintered “

The kings of the milonga

There are more and more places to dance …

by Marina Gambier | LA NACION

Less than 15 years ago, Félix Picherna, that on those days DJ the milonga most traditional on Villa Urquiza, took the microphone and, as it was his habit, made a short introduction to announce the tanda of music that would come next. He liked to make the role of master of ceremony. He had started on 1958 at the Club Viento Norte, and, at his almost 60 years, was considered the anchorman of the tango DJs. However, he live very humbly , on a little room that the Club gave him to live. “Ladies and Gentlemen, now we introduce on the dancing floor of Sunderland Club, the maestro Carlos Cayetano Di Sarli”, taken for granted that everyone in the place , know name of the famous composer and orchestra director, already passed away on 1960.

But the milonga, was not the same as decades before, among the audience there were young people. A person that was present that night told that many young people were looking to the tables,searching with their eyes and saying “ Where, where, I say..” Tell me, whose man is Di Sarli , where is he ??”.

This story shows what happened on the beginning of the 90`s and that later would acquiere a worldwide size on the following years : the kids and sons, became interested on the music of their parents, and Picherna, almost without intention, pave the way for the development of a job that before have passed unnoticed, and that for the last years, take an unpredictable importance, on the scene of this 2 x 4 music.

Besides the power of summoning people and audience of the organizer of the milonga venue, of the quality of the dancing floor, and the buffet service, the DJ became a key part of the machinery of the milonga venue.

From his DJ cabin, being with a computer or with CDs, is the responsible to light the fire on the dancing floor. In other words, he has to achieve, that people take out from their tables to the dancing floor to dance, because is for that reason, and no other one, people has payed the entrance fee to the venue

The growth of this person DJ into the sphere of milonga venues, is a consequence of the fanaticism that came back to awaken the world with rioplatense dance, after the spectacle Tango Argentino makes famous on the City Center of Broadway on 1986 (note from Alberto;: this is historically incorrect, Tango Argentino was presented for the first time ever at the Theatre Chatelet of Paris, on 1983, I am a bit exhausted to have to mention each time this mistake . The promoters of this show were the argentine owners of a tangueria”Les trottoris de Paris” , opened on 1981.All the musicians, dancers and singers, including Sexteto Mayor of Pepe Libertella and Luis Stazo, came packed in an Hercules C130 supplied by the argentine air force, directly from Palomar militar airport to Paris, on 1983 ).

“There were 15 dancers , old people and with some weight excess, dancing this favorite old and decadent music , the tango . For singers crying their sorrow, in Spanish ,and an orchestra with plenty bandoneons. Women dressed in black, men apply jelly to their hair. With the beating of this show, there were new tango dancers being born worldwide, it was a tango rush “, remember in an intervie to LA NACIOn, the choreographer Claudio Segovia, the creator of the show, where danced, among others, Juan Carlos Copes, María Nieves, Milena Plebs and Miguel Ángel Zotto, the elite of tango dancers.

That success was the trigger for a boom that still is running nowadays, and that some people call the third globalization of tango, after the tango sung by Gardel, on the decade on the 20`s, and the music of Astor Piazzola, on the 60`s . On Buenos Aires, milonga venues multiplied. Adding to the new devotion of a generation of argentine people for tango, lots of foreigners crossed the ocean ( and keep crossing nowadays , benefited with the devaluation of argentine peso to foreign currencies) to learn the technique and tango dancing codes, that keep being the same as they were before (see separate not on this matter )(note of alberto; I will translate it also J)

What nobody, even those who cooperate for the rebirth, could imagine, was that this resurrection , that look so impossible would create sources and means of income , for the old milongueros that keep the tango dancing alive, when on the decade of the 1960, it was considered oficially dead.

Those who could see this new good prospection for business, recycled themselves, and now are professionals that are part of a legion of teachers that go across Europe, Asia and the USA, teaching and making part of festivals . And even have , on accounts on Twitter and profiles on Facebook, the schedule and timetable for their agendas of works and performances.

At the “tangosphere”, there is a place for everyone. Those that have traveled more, consider that there around 1.000 dancing venues of tango, at different corners of the planet . According to the website milmilongas.com , only at Berlin there are 35 venues , eight on Brussels, four on Taipei and 25 on Rome, many of them Djed by the eternal DJ Opicherna.

He run his business 12 years ago at Italy, where is a celebrity that has inspired books and documentaries of cinema. On weekends, he take the train from Rome, and make a tour at the nearby cities with his small suitcase full of cassettes, since he is not convinced by the new technologies of the XXI century. Seconds before to start the tanda, runs the word, he is seen rewinding the cassette with a ball pen (note of Alberto: I have seen personally Picherna, doing this at Confiteria Ideal on 1998, it is an old trick of die hard cassette users , I used to do the same to be sure the cassette was fully rewinded, otherwise it starts a bit advance with the music. You must hear the “click” that is the end of tape , a part of traslucid non recorded music and a white piece of tape that makes a sound to let you know that the head of the cassette recorder is beginning to read sound ….. how many years ago ….. )

“Thanks to him, the tango DJs have the road paved. Nobody would invited us to Europe, if it was not for his years of work there .”, says Damián Boggio, one of the first DJs of the XXI century. This interview was made through Facebook due to, as every year since 2004, Boggio spends three months of the year in a tour that includes Switzerland. Russia Federation. UK ,Germany, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Holland, Turkey and Italy.

“When I started on 1999,, I was the youngest . I am part of a generation that come to tango from rock music, after university, after so many things… I learn to play music, with the advise of old milongueros, that keep me teaching on old orchestras and music styles.

After the end of the parity 1 to 1 with argentine peso and us dollar, the tango danced became a world fancy, and also a source of work and income.

First came teachers and trainers on tango dance, and afterwards, naturally, appeared the tango DJs” ,comment Boggio.

Cambalache XXI century

It still seems snob to use the British word d-jay to refer to the disk runner , that anonymous operator in charge, originally,to put the sting of the recorded onto the surface of the vinyl disk. The first recordings that appeared on the music market, were paste made, and were used almost at family gathering,because the public dances were organized around big and great orchestras that come to light on the golden era of this type of music, from the decade of the 40`s to the middle part of the 50`s

Those days, each Saturday there were up to 15 orchestras first level, playing at some club on the Federal district ( note from Alberto: I remember listening tango music with orchestra, at a nearby social club on saavedra neighborhood, on the end of the 50`s.- I was six/seven years old- where my grandmother lived , on Friday nights. The club is still opened, but there is no more tango nights, just some sports and social activity) The audience danced all night long to the beating of the music of this only orchestra, that made two or three entries of twenty minutes. The musicians were idols, specially the singers. Sometimes, nobody danced, to be able to watch them

“For instance, for the carnivals, soccer club Huracan hired Troilo; Independiente, Di Sarli, and son . It was a party. Al the city was dancing. This goes on until 1955, when two mortal wounds were produced for this music gender : the rock music and a military coup called the Liberty Revolution/ la Revolución Libertadora, that take out from the street, the ordinary people”, remembers Osvaldo Natucci, a DJ of well known career. He made his debut being 17 years old at Club Defensores de Florida, when a 6 years old have listened for the first time the Anibal Troilo orchestra. Today he works on Italy half year, djing music and giving conferences about tango story on the university of Bologna.

When the turbulence of the decade of the 60`s arrived, the orchestras tipicas begun to dismantle. As it was very expensive to hire them , the clubs ans salons begun to use selected recordings. At the provinces away from Buenos Aires, this type of recorded music was already used, since the orchestras usually never go there. Generally, this task lay in hand of an employee of the club and/or an amateur member of the board of the club.

” I don’t know how could they work, if they used two disk runners devices, or only one, but the truth is , the club use their own disks and they announced the program of music on a blackboard with chalk- explains Gabriel Soria, vice president of the Academia Nacional del Tango-. They chalked, for instance : ´This night, dance with Osvaldo Pugliese´. This was a bit tricky,because Pugliese was not in person . Other clubs make the situation clearer, but with a foot note: ´Tonight we dance with Juan D´Arienzo´. And the footnote read : ´With selected recordings´. I have many specimen of paste disks with the label of Soccer Club Atlanta, among others.”

The arrival of the long play vinyl disk start the revolution and after a time, started the idea of the tanda, a concept that until that days it was not existing.

Before it could have been impossible to integer all the orchestras in a single night. First the music played was only of the same orchestra, but changing the tandas according to the different years of their recordings, until that finally it came a one and only standard, or unique method, that generally consist in alternate four tangos , three valses and three milongas, separated by short curtains/ cortinas of other musical genders, such as jazz, bossa nova , boggie-woggie , rock nacional, pop and sometimes, cumbias.

To make attractive selections, the DJ has to know a lot of tango. There are near 2.000 danceable themes, those that are more listened to at the venues ,and the DJ has to arrange this tandas with a certain logic. This background makes them different from their colleagues of electronic music, that , besides, charging higher fees, have at hand a more homogeneous repertoire that is being renewed constantly.

Lucía Plazaola, that learn the ropes with Natucci, considers that the demand is higher, when it is required to dj music on Buenos Aires. When she ended her secondary school, started to work as waiter at a milonga venue. The day that the dj of the place quit, she was ready to fill the post. She was 21 years old. With 26 years already, she is ending her third tournee in Europe. “ If you look at it from outside, it seems something very simple, to push small buttons, and that `s it. But no : you have to be very alert to such many things “, she says, while she wrote down in a booklet, the tentative schedule for the music of the night.

From her cabin, that is in a mezzannine of the dancing venue , she watch the turnaround of the dancing floor, that will be changing with the hours, according to factors that are unpredictables : if there are incoming tourists that night, if Racing soccer club win and/or if Boca soccer team loss, if there are lack of men and too many women, if it rains or if it is too hot the weather. “ Besides to know about rhythms, it is important to distinguish the arrangement, that are very different for each orchestra, depending the year and the musicians that make the group. We know that it does not sound the same, one orchestra on 1955 than the same orchestra on 1935. I stay being very classic on my preferences . Now to the El beso venue come younger people, but this does not mean that I will break the atmosphere of the place . It will be a betrayal and I am not the kind of making the crazy about this “, she emphasizes. She says that “craziness” would means to dj electronic tango, for instance,. It is against her philosophy.

¿Hey kid, what music is that ?

A night at the venue could be an unforgettable success or a perfect failure. The audience is a democratic mix of medical doctors, taxi cab drivers, office clerks, cosmetic make up workers , judge in law, writers, businessmen,lawyers, actress, biologists, car body painters, painters of buildings,students and persons living on pension funds, all this mass of people assisting with the intention to practice the dance. Some appreciate the music in an unconscious way., For other, it is a key element .The milongueros with many years of dance floor navigation,when listen to the first tango of the tanda, could hint what other tangos will come next at the same tanda. It the selection of the DJ is poor, probable they will complain in low voice, or go straight to the dj responsible: the DJ is always at the bull`s eye.

Horacio “Pebete/kid ” Godoy admit that , more than once, has to suffer long faces. With his 38 years and 20 of them working as DJ , he tries constantly to have at his milonga, La viruta , the best music and no mistakes. ” At Buenos Aires today, there mus be around 20 good tango DJ, but no all of them resist a full inquiry on music –explain, just arrived from Germany-. Usually , almost all DJs respect the years, the eras, the singers. Maybe they made a mistake when being so attached to fulfill the chronology. It is true that on this matter, you cannot make too much innovation , only if you have a good knowledge on the near 100.000 recorded tangos that exists , but you need to understand your audience. I think that I have capacity to understand the energy of the dance floor and a certain business/commercial awareness : I know that there are many milongueros that will not like certain orchestra: therefore, I do not play this orchestra.”

On the decade of the 70 there were no more than 10 milongas on Capital Federal. Today , according to the magazine specialized on this music, there are no less than 100. The Saturdays you have up to 29 salons opened. And there are for all tastes : the traditional ones ( where it is politely request to assist dressed in elegant sport), other more informal, but for older people, and other for the younger people, with jeans and tennis shoes. At a few of these venues, there are expert dancers. There is also a gay milonga venue, although it is not compulsory to be homosexual, to get into it. On the well organized spaces, the DJ has a cabin where is possible to watch the dancing floor, when it is not sitting at a table.

Having left behind the times of the CD and the MP3, the majority of DJ have an impressive collection of tangos stored on their computers, that someone allows them to make a small “ trap” , the so called playlist , this mean, to program in advance the sequences of tandas to be able to play it standalone on their own ,almost as an autopilot of a plane.

Usually , they do not this behavior and are looking to feel the climate of the dancing floor. On an average night, around 120 tracks are played, that have to satisfied, a different level of skill for the dancers on the venue.

The fact is , to learn the technique of this dance take no less than 10 years , and only then a person is able to enjoy the music , apart from the choreography learns, a matter that many dancers agree on.

For Ramiro Gigliotti, professional dancer and author of the book Tango venom/Veneno de tango , a compilation of stories and tales , some of them hilarious, on the buenos aires tango community, each time the dancer goes to the dancing floor, a covenant is made with the DJ . ” For some milongueros, it is a matter of life or death. There are orchestras with whom you can not stop dancing , and there are others with whom you will never have them out of their chairs. Then, the covenant with the DJ . When he mix in a same tanda, different arrangements, the covenant is broken. It happens with the instrumental tangos, although it is more clearer with the sung tangos.

For instance, if the first one tango of the tanda has a script related to love, the second one is about horse races and the third one a general condemnation of the progress that kills everything, it does not fit as a successful combination within the tanda.”

Before, when the milonga venues hold live orchestra, and the audience wanted to listen to a certain theme, they wrote down in a small paper the name of the theme and the waiter takes the petition to the director. Today , formalities are placed away, the persona approach the DJ and says . ” Kid, do you have that recording XX?”. It is supposed that a witty DJ knows what is the top ten ranking of tango . This are tangos that the audience do not ask since consider beforehand that they are impossible not to be played during the night.

“On my beginnings I have some criticisms –admits Silvia Ceriani, DJ at La Catedral, on Thursdays, and Salón Canning, on Mondays- (note from Alberto: Silvia was the last dancing partner of Tete Rusconi , the king of valsecitos dancers. Also Silvia, was couple of a rock star of the 80`s Luca Prodan, of the group Sumo, of Argentina , So as cortinas, at Salon Canning, she uses to paly some songs of rock from this group, is very special J).

Because there are those that danced since may years ago, and do not know nothing about orchestras. They like only one, and you could not take it out of this orchestra. But, on the other hand, it can not be a night at the venue, without the four “tango daddies/founding fathers ”: Osvaldo Pugliese, Carlos Di Sarli, Aníbal Troilo y Juan D´Arienzo. If you do not play this orchestras, somethings lacks on the night. Today your computer allows the playlist ,, but people gets bored: you are as DJ, to be connected with the energy of the dancing floor and how it evolves “, add Ceriani.

On this subject, there is coincidence. With two decades of work and a collection of around 20.000 recordings, Mario Orlando, who is in charge of the more prestigious venues of the buenos aires milonga circuit, look for the better music, taking care that each one keep their identity. At La Marshall, a gay milonga , he plays music with suggestive scripts, to have their audience comfortable, and at Sunderland, never plays tangos that are quick step, since at this milonga venue, they dance with long steps and other kind of embrace. On April of this year, he travel to Stockholm , Rio de Janiero, and was invited to the festival on Dubai. “ Each place has a personality. That `s why a place different music at each one. You have to be present, always. If i got sleep of got bored, that is noticed immediately, the dancing floor falls like a flat tyre . And on the floor, it is the success , or not, of the night.”

Opening the game

On Argentina, a DJ earns around 100 to 300 pesos per night (note of Alberto. 1 usd = 3,95 arp , 1 Eur = 5,6 arp ) Working overseas, the fees are more juicy. The inviting party, usually the organizer of the milonga or the festival, runs with the espenses, a minimum of EUR 150 as fees per night, air ticket and lodging complete with meals. And outside the country, the DJ has the red carpet treatment, because his role is highly praised, even more if it is porteño/from Buenos Aires.

On the last years , serious DJ competitors arise from Europe and USA, like Tommaso Fiorilli, an Italian famous for making dare mixes , that not always sound bad. That is other advantage that a local DJ has when he works overseas; there is less pressure. The audience is more open to new tendencies or proposals. Electronic tango is accepted, so resisted as it is at the milonga venues in Buenos Aires, or to dance with other music resources, such as the vinyl disks, the last fancy allover the world.

“Here in Buenos Aires is difficult to have all people happy. They have a very ortodox structure, resistance for change is high. But overseas, they listen to everything, you can bet there –says Gustavo Rosas, DJ graduated at the Escuela Argentina from Oscar Calderon.-. At a festival on Catania, Sicily, and in Brussels, I played , tango electronic, that was such on my brave face, I risk , and it works. Many maestros complain about this, but the people that get into the dance by the electronic tango, later begin to refine their hearing and start asking for Canaro, the romantics. Fresedo. _That is a sum up, an improvement on taste, and a sprint on this tango move, that is impressive. “

Rosas has a collection of 13.000 vinyl disks. One he travel with 80 of them on hand, by fear to dispatch it with the luggage on the airplane. They are his treasure. “ Since 2005, the LP has becoming to use again. The good DJ agrees that this is the best media to play, due to the quality of sound. Being whatever being the media, the sound has to be good as output ,it has to reach the audience with the best quality. Also it allows you to work in real time, to play with the effects, using the sting of the LP player”. He says, a few hours befing to start a tour that will end on the Tango Festival of Belgrade, on Serbia republic.

By all means, although, it is very difficult that a DJ will dare to make a further revolution. It is needed a rebel spirit to change the paradigms of a gender, loaded with nostalgia and in whom the idea that the musicians of the first half of XX century , will be never surpassed. On the other hand, there are some brave faces arising.

“The Polaco Goyeneche took me to Troilo and to other composers, I get involved a lot with tango cancion, listening to Francisco Fiorentino, Floreal Ruiz. I was attracted by the poetical aspect , because I feel I was represented in the themes. Like the rock, it talks on similar things “ , says Gabriel Plaza, journalist and musical critic of this newspaper, and DJ since 2005.

“What I like of the job, is to have a role more artistic, to make a character that plays, beyond the music itself, trying to make a creation act. That is why I can say that my reference is Picherna, that had and have, an attitude toward this work. Him, himself, is an artistic proposition.” , says this DJ Inca, the nickname of Plaza. He started at the Rome festival, and then go to Paris, Hong Kong and New York, djing festivals where he have the taste to include different orchestras, like La chicana. Actually, with the DJ Simja Dujov ( producer of the so called balcanic music), they are making experiments, remixing old tangos with electronic tangos , with orchestras of the 40`s.

They make mixes with rhythms from Eastern Europe and sampling voices from Gardel, a risky bet, but a one that could make history. After all, audiences are always in renewal.

“Since I do not have the prejudices of those that already are in the tango scenario, I allow myself to break rules and set new ones of my own, without loosing the contact with the dancing floor. Although we DJs are related to the dancers that we serve on the dancing floor, I also have to have some fun.

That is why I think that there is a part in this rite, that is very good, but also think that rites had to be renewed, put them to date. Finally, were are and belong to other generation.” Explains.

Some milonga venues

La Viruta

Armenia 1366, Palermo Soho

Club Sin Rumbo

José Pascual Tamborini 6157, Villa Urquiza

La Marshall

Maipú 444

Club Villa Malcom

Av. Córdoba 5064, Palermo

Gozoso Jueves

en La Catedral, Sarmiento 4006, Almagro

Salón Canning

Sacalabrini Ortiz 1331, Palermo

DJ Bärbel Rücker | Tanzbar || Tango Argentino | Argentinsk Tango

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