Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tango stories 4

There's good music on Monday night at Salon Canning. Sylvia often finds great versions of songs you know well, by orquestas you can't place. You think: ah! I know Troilo's version of this – but who is this playing it? She always plays a great tanda of Carabelli too, and tops it all off with an extraordinary range of cortinas. Inevitably Lady Day, but Amy Winehouse too, and the widest possible range of rock, and even flamenco, all wonderful and usually unknown stuff, unknown to me and probably to a great many other people too I'm sure, and carefully fitted into the flow of tango. Makes a change from the run-of-the-mill cortinas most DJs play. Interesting what can happen when someone gives the cortinas some attention, rather than treating them as a fill-in between tandas.

But recently Monday night at Salon Canning seems to have become a couples night, not entirely, but turning up looking for a dance or two isn't great. I'm more used to El Beso nights, where couples are few and almost everyone goes ready to dance with almost everyone else, and where the floorcraft is good and there's really a 'buena onda'. On the floor at Canning there are show dancers and beginners mixed in with good dancers and some excellent older guys: Canning can be like that. A local so-called teacher takes a big step backwards and onto my partner's foot, and just dances off as if nothing happened. Despite the music it's all a bit distant.

The taxi driver who drives me home is a relief. A rich, friendly voice with an impenetrably thick accent: he says he was from Uruguay. My ears struggle to get even the gist, but it doesn't worry him. I feel like Spanish visitor to the UK encountering a Highlander. Talking is an art form for some people, and he's certainly one; even his inevitable life story, and how 'la crisis' (2001) changed his life, sounds like a wonderful poetic saga, and has probably been retold and refined like a saga too. I can't make much more than the simplest observations, and find myself immediately understood as if I've been part of a dialogue all along. The will to communicate creates communication.

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