Saturday, 30 March 2013

Villa Urquiza

Thanks to Jantango for passing on the link to another of those remarkable archives of videos that grow day by day on YouTube. This one is the channel of José Luis Ferraro, and Jantango characterises it as Villa Urquiza tango, some 80-odd videos filmed in Sunderland, Glorias Argentinas, Sin Rumbo, and elsewhere, and uploaded over the last seven months.

Perhaps it's a good time to remember what Villa Urquiza really stands for, since many of the wildest young Argentine teachers who come to London claim to dance Villa Urquiza. Watch El Chino Perico, his utmost calm and effortless sophistication on the floor: I get the sense of someone marvelously courteous, and I believe that is real Villa Urquiza, not the antics young teachers try to impress us with. I get the impression that tango was a civilizing influence: that young kids came in off the streets and learned how to behave with courtesy and dance with elegance, and if they didn't they weren't welcomed back. Tangoandchaos has a bit of the history, the story of El Chino and his friend Alberto Dassieu and their tutelage under Luis Lemos, the patron of tango in the Villa Urquiza barrio.

There's a variety of dance styles in these videos too. There's a marvellous clip of Carlitos Anzuate, a kind of dance I suspect goes back to the 1930s in which it is the man who has all the 'decoraciones' and the lady follows him around in a kind of minimal tango. It reminds me a bit of Osvaldo and Coca. (A number of these clips share the same opening sequence of social dance before the 'solo' sequences.) Then there's another couple in the archive who dance a tango that seems much closer to canyegue.

It's José Luis Ferraro's chanel, and about half the clips are of him. This is where I find it a bit less edifying, as I don't find triple voleos and high kicks that impressive. Just my opinion, but I believe it's far harder and much more impressive to dance like El Chino than to dance like Ferraro...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

An Open Letter

Silvia Ceriani has published a translation of one of Tete Rusconi's Open Letters to tangueros everywhere and always. Also a wonderful description of Regin milonga in the 1990s: from its description as 'on the first floor of Riobamba and Corrientes' we recognise it as what is now El Beso: no longer broken green neon I think, but green curtains.

There are several of these open letters covering much the same ground. They reveal how earnest Tete was about tango, however much he might joke. About tango music, '...this very impassioned music gives us life, energy, pleasure'. As to the dance, he sees danger: '...we are losing it by not respecting it'. Tango is not a business; 'Tango is a part of our lives, part of our grandparents, parents, mothers, brothers and friends. It’s our life'. It's good to remember how the older generation see it, even if we can't match their passion.

Monday, 11 March 2013


Another excellent evening of dance at Carablanca. The music was much appreciated, and set me wondering just how a DJ manages to keep us all on the floor all evening. The answers are pretty much on his website: ensuring that the tanda begins well, which means an extensive knowledge of the music from a dancer's point of view, and meticulous technical understanding of, and attention to, sound quality. I found the sound was particularly remarkable: the music felt warm and rich, with an excellent spacious feel to it, although the tracks are mono. The various lines of melody and rhythm were clear, without the slightest discernible distortion. When you've got sound and a selection of music like that, you feel you can relax, trust it and enjoy it. Bernhard has played in that hall before, so he knows it and the speakers there, and knows how to make the most of it. In any case, it's a good space for music.

As for the dancing, I'm sure it's a lot calmer and smoother than it was a few years ago. I've never seen Carablanca seriously crowded*, but it can feel that way when people aren't skilled in dancing on 'una baldosa' – on a single tile (as they say in Buenos Aires milongas). Out of the dancers there, there were perhaps only one or two with that skill. If everyone had that skill you could just about double the number of dancers and it would still feel perfectly comfortable.

(*On one occasion – but that was virtually a private party.)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Carablanca... and some more YouTube stuff

I should have drawn attention to this last week: Carablanca has a late licence for Friday 8 March. Dancing, great music and empanadas from 8 until 2. DJ Bernhard Gehberger.

While I'm at the keyboard, some more YouTube stuff. Recently I came across bariodorizontal's YouTube channel which is a real cornucopia, mainly of clips of music and food. Over 700 clips to be precise (they seem to include the whole of El último Bandoneón, with Rodolfo Mederas). This clip* shows 'el maestro Oscar Barrios' who was first bandoneón with the de Angelis orquesta. The events seem to be a series of recitals in a cafe somewhere in Buenos Aires, organised by Los Amigos del Galpón de Mingo. I found it worth hunting around on the channel as there are a great many clips like this, usually two instruments plus sometimes a vocalist. The setting is relaxed, and the music is wonderful. It's very simple and charming: a small audience, people sitting chatting at tables over by the window, the traffic outside. 

*PS: For some reason, bariodorizontal has removed the video of Palomita Blanca with Oscar Barrios from the YouTube channel: a pity because it was a wonderful piece. However, all the other clips seem to be still there, including several clips by the same two performers from the same afternoon, and a great version of Pedacito de Cielo with a singer: you can find them on the channel. There are other tracks from Oscar Barrios, too: there's a super version of La Maleva, Oscar with a second bandoneon

There's plenty to watch - and listen to - there, and you can 'Load more' videos for a very long time. I've not watched that many, but the music and the setting are wonderful in everything I've seen.