Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A young milonguero

Monica Paz has interviewed many of the older dancers at her Practimilongueros events, but a couple of months ago she broke with this and invited a young Argentine, Matías Alberto Trípodi. It's a fascinating glimpse into how a perceptive and engaging young Argentine, with much the sensibility and education of a contemporary European, came to tango. & articulate: it's virtually a monologue. It's full of interest about tango from a perspective we find more familiar than the perspective and background of the older dancers. He found tango attracted him and he started to talk to the older generation. In many ways he was lucky to grow up in that environment; a good friend who knows Buenos Aires well said to me recently, 'They learn fast over there!' Absolutely the environment for it. 

A few points: there's a lot more. He talks about the problems of entering a traditional milonga, encountering a different language and code, and his reactions to this. Many of us will find this familiar. He wonders how far an outsider, even a young Argentine, should adapt to the codigos: he says the older dancers would simply laugh if a young person like him turned up in a suit and tie. He talks about the sensation of attraction and rejection: you want to dance but it's not always easy to get someone to look at you. You have to arrive without expectation, and despite the rejection you stay because you love the activity. The beautiful experience of the moment when eyes do meet; how democratic that moment is.

He's travelled and danced in milongas outside Buenos Aires too. How you find the landscape of another being without knowing them, how this experience, this encounter, is what is common to all tango dancers. The milonga as a refuge for the encounter, for the music, the poetry. He finds milongas outside Buenos Aires lack this context, but function as a focus for other experiences: maybe the context needs to be passed on better, in addition to the technical aspects. 'You have the language but not the circumstances in which to use it.' Which might generate new behaviours and circumstances, but he's confident that the re-encounter of the milonga, the truth of the dance on the floor, will survive.

He dances other forms of tango, but always misses the intimacy, the emotions, the strength of encounters, the subtlety of the 'milonguero', the behaviour at a traditional milonga, the delicacy of the invitation. He sees the milonga as a refuge for all these aspects. 

The translation isn't always clear, but he speaks very fluently and his thoughts are sometimes complex. I think it's worth persevering with it. Incidentally, the next guests of Monica Paz will be the brother of the late Tete and his son, Tete's nephew.


jantango said...

he says the older dancers would simply laugh if a young person like him turned up in a suit and tie.

That is only an excuse for not dressing properly. I remember Saulius (25) and Audrius (40) from Lithuania showed up in suits at Lo de Celia. No one laughed at them. They were noticed and danced with portenas.

Tangocommuter said...

Well, since a good many of the older dancers, including Ricardo Suarez, now turn up without jackets to dance at milongas in the summer months, wouldn't it be a bit excessive for a local youngster to wear a suit and tie? & we were talking about locals, not Lithuanians.

In a recent post you complained about 'bajo nivel', but is it really fair to compare 75-year old dancers with dancers like Matías, who might have 50 fewer years experience of the milongas? Surely you're aware that there's a gap of over a generation in tango. Dancers have either 60 years experience, or at most 20. Nothing much in between. & it would be nice if you could sound encouraging to younger people who are so amazed and delighted by the milongas, and speak so thoughtfully about them. Despite the extraordinary difference in background between them and the older dancers, they find themselves seduced by the dance and the world of the milongas. But your only comment is that they don't dress correctly.

You keep proclaiming the end of tango! I hope you don't want your prophecy to come true, and that you don't convince people that you are right. It looks as if the enthusiasm is there to make tango last. Of course nothing can stay exactly the same in every detail, or it would die on its feet.

Janis said...

Dances in the summer months were held outdoors in places like Club Premier or Palacio Rivadavia where the milongueros wore jackets for the elegance of tango and the comfort of the ladies. Today, they dance indoors in small places like El Beso, Plaza Bohemia, etc. with air-conditioning. I will not criticize Suarez or any milonguero for removing his jacket. At 88, Suarez goes to the milonga in a suit, and he has earned the right to do whatever he wants. He is still elegant, with or without a jacket. Age makes a difference in what one is able to tolerate.

There are no youngsters in the milongas. It's a place for men who dance. Tripodi is neither a milonguero nor youngster. He is old enough to own and wear a suit like the many touring Argentines do for every performance on YouTube. I refused an invitation recently from an Argentine because he wore sneakers, cargo pants, t-shirt, and headband holding back his mass of hair (like Chicho Frumboli).

Bajo nivel was not my complaint, but the comment of seasoned milongueras. It was based on old, not young, men in two milongas--Nuevo Chique and Los Consagrados. Milongueras are not interested in dancing with young men like Tripodi with limited milonga experience; they want to dance with milongueros.

Tripodi hasn't bothered to dress appropriately for a milonga, assuming he would be laughed at -- but it would not be milongueros laughing, but complimenting him. How many world champions do exhibitions in jeans and t-shirts? None. They have respect for tango. Neither Tripodi nor any other young dancer will ever be a milonguero. Tripodi has proven that by his comment.

No, I did not say anything about the end of tango. We have the music recordings forever and young musicians who keep it alive. What I did say is that the milongas as they have been since 1948 will end when the milongueros are gone. They will be replaced with dances where figures to impress take priority over dancing with feeling for the music. The codes and customs of those years ago will be ignored and the floor will be chaos.

Tangocommuter said...

Many thanks for the very welcome news that Mathias Tripodi has visited and taught in Europe. I hope we can welcome him to the UK before too long. It will be an inspiration to have here a teacher who has learned by experience of the milongas. & I would not think it unsuitable that he should earn money by doing it.

The teachers we usually get here have learned from show dancers; they are teachers of the Mora Godoy school that you say in your recent post you so much admire, dancers of that skilful but heartless, choreographed tango. Maybe it's a new dance form to you, but here we've seen too much of those moves that make you wonder 'How did they do that?' & we've been kicked and intimidated by their students stretching their legs 'high and fluidly', trying to impress us with those how-did-they-do-that moves in our milongas.

Someone like Mathias might help us away from a dance in which figures to impress take priority, and towards a dance with feeling for the music, which is what many of us yearn for.

Chris said...

"The teachers we usually get here have learned from show dancers; they are teachers of the Mora Godoy school that you say in your recent post you so much admire"

TC, I'd be interested to hear which teachers visiting here you think are from the Mora Godoy school. The last one I recall was over three years ago.

And I think you're mistaken about Janis's blog stating admiration of the Mora Godoy school. I find no mention of the school in Janis's blog.

Tangocommuter said...

...of the Mora Godoy school; figurative, in the style or manner of.

Matias tripodi said...

Hi Tango Commuter, I am Matías Trípodi. Thanks for the article about the interview in Practimilonguero, and thanks for the comments: Tango´s experiences are a deep subjet, and same times we need more time to talk about what tango`s experciences means. I hope have a opportunity to exchange experiences with all of you. Un abrazo and sorry for my english,.., matías

Tangocommuter said...

Hi Matías, and welcome. Thanks for getting in touch. I found your Practimilonguero interview very interesting, although the translation isn't always clear. I'm glad to hear you agree that talking about the experience of tango is important. All best wishes, and I look forward to any comments you send.