Showing posts from 2010

Rain, wind and the tango drought

On Boxing Day night as we approached the Gladesville RSL for the Milonga de mis Amores, the black clouds hung low and a few heavy drops hit our windscreen. By the time we were inside it was pelting down... but I needn't have worried. Obviously 2 nights without tango meant that the wild weather couldn't keep the dancers away and we had a big happy crowd including visitors from New York, New Zealand, Cairns and Perth! It's a treat to have visitors at the milonga - to meet new dancers and hear about their tango. Thank you to all those who complimented me on the playlist too! It is almost tempting to use it again (see post above!) but not next month - or even in the next 6 months, but I will at some point when no-one will remember!. It was interesting to see how the Hugo Diaz tanda late in the night wasn't popular, and how the canyengue a few tandas before was! I love it when the tables are empty and the floor is full! means I've got it right. And I was chuffed to get

That same old [tango] music

I don't think we have any milongas in Sydney where the tango DJ plays the same playlist time after time.. if we do I have never heard about them. And certainly when I do the playlist for the Milonga de Mis Amores it is almost completely new every time - I even create new tandas, though I do have a handful of favourites, usually ones that people have commented on and these will re-appear from time to time.  So I was quite horrified to read on my tango friend Bora's blog that "Canning had unusually less traffic that night and it seemed very quiet. Like at every other milonga, the playlist hadn’t changed from the last times I had been there".!! and later on she says " There are many ways to kill the mood at a milonga. Canning highlighted three that night: 1.Poorly arranged music, 2. Poor performances that leave people cold, and 3. Random chacarera to pick up the pace." I didn't go to Canning when I was in Buenos Aires in April, partly because last time I w

Christmas Milongas and Christmas prices

Tis the season to be jolly! And most of the time I don't find it difficult, but sometimes I feel the grumpy old lady coming out in me as I wonder why some of the milonga organisers think it is okay to thank dancers for their custom throughout the year by putting up their prices. Of course if they are offering their clients the bonus of a live tango band,  special performances by visiting dancers who have to be paid, or supper or a meal, or if their venue has put the price up on hiring the space, then of course they need to... but just because it is Christmas? I haven't been to all the Christmas milongas I would like to because of this - the tango budget only goes so far. A member of our family is visiting from the US and she tells us that in the US they just go from one festival to another - no sooner is Thanksgiving over, than it's Christmas, then Valentine's Day, then St Patricks Day, then Easter... and I've probably missed one or two I am wondering if they do m

Learning from Bora

I have been away from tango this weekend so just spent an hour reading Bora's Tango Journey.   Her honesty about her experiences in lessons with a wide range of tango teachers and her determination to improve her dancing is inspirational. And her experiences with the rakes of tango is great reading - though I have to confess it makes me very happy that I am not a single woman - young or old - in the tango scene. And even if I was I would be sure to attend milongas with a group of friends, male and female. Much of what she describes is part of the dating/mating game. This is not peculiar I have just been having a cup of tea with my daughter (26) while she tells me about the wedding she went to last night and how hard it is to find a good man! If you are not already clued into Bora's blog and want an inside look at the Buenos Aires tango scene, bookmark it now - it may give you some misgivings, but you will surely learn a great deal.

Not my tango journey

One of Sydney’s popular young tangueras is currently visiting Buenos Aires  - you may have found her blog as it is listed here. Bora’s tango journey is fascinating – and from a totally different perspective to my own, or that of many people I know. Bora is the same age as my daughter so we are talking generations here but there are other things… For a start Bora speaks fluent Spanish and she is very confident of her own abilities and her presence.  I notice this in my daughter and her friends – they have a confidence given to them by our generation of parents who believed in building them not putting them down as we were by our parents. And Bora is visiting milongas as a beautiful, young single woman, though she does know people who are in Buenos Aires at the same time, and she is keen to practise the cabaceo (the technique of accepting dances by a look and nod across the room, not by being asked). And practise it she is with a confidence that has had some devastating consequences

When two won't tango

Our recent milonga with the visiting musicians from Buenos Aires went extremely well - we worked with Tango Encanto who already had a milonga on the night the musicians were in town and everyone was happy! No-one was out of pocket, no one felt rebuffed and the Sydney tango community got a great night. But this is rare on the Sydney tango scene. Sydney tango schools are bit like the drivers on Sydney's roads - it's every man/woman for him/herself and woe betide anyone who gets in the way. Last weekend was a one example. There are two regular milongas - then the annual festival held in the southern highlands moved it's weekend to the same weekend - and then another school announced a milonga out of the blue - and there was a milonga in Newcastle (an hour and half drive away). At this time of year there are plenty of other reasons for people not to tango, so each event suffered!  There just aren't enough tangueros and I frequently hear people saying why can't the scho

Cortinas and the tango playlist

Cortinas (short grabs of music) have become a tradition at milongas that allow dancers to change partners - or take a break between sets of tango music. For me the cortina music needs to be in the mood. I like to play cortinas that come from the same period as the tango music but are from a different genre - they don't have to be recordings from that period, butsongs from that period... and I like to play cortinas that match the theme of the evening. This weekend we are doing our Blue Tango milonga - last year's was enormously popular so we are doing it again! And I have chosen songs about blue - blue eyes, blue skies, being blue... for the cortinas with songs with blue in them for the playlist. Last month we had a full moon so we used songs about the moon... 'Moondance' sung by Van Morrison,  Fats Waller singing 'By the Light of the Silvery Moon' and Rod Stewart singing 'Moonglow' ... and dotted throughout the playlist were songs about the moon, such a

Tango Music reaches new heights

What a night! The venue looked fantastic thanks to the work of Chris from Tango Encanto, the musicians played divinely and the crowd danced! It was everything we had hoped for and more. Being given the opportunity to organise a milonga with such legends as Ignacio Varchausky from Orquesta El Arranque and bandoneon virtuouso Santiago Polimeni with Fuego Blanco and their mentor, Maggie Ferguson was fabulous and the organisers pulled out all stops to make it a night to remember. The table of 12 from Newcastle were in awe, most had never seen a bandoneon before, let alone two played by such experts. Promoting the work of TangoVia and it's endeavours in preserving tango music for the future was also a focus of the night. There is a chance there may be an opportunity to do it again next year! Meanwhile if you know of anyone who has a collection of old vinyl records with tango music on them - ask them to contact the Tango Digital Archive  - - they may have a tango rec

80,000 missing tango recordings

Last night I squeezed myself into the audio room in the Cervantes Room for a presentation by Ignacio Varchausky of the Tango Digital Archive - and I learnt some disturbing stuff about what has happened to tango recordings of the 20th century. It seems we've got a real treat in store if the Tango Digital Archive can get the funding it needs to digitise the 100,000 recordings they have determined were made in the first part of the 20th century. So far we are only listening to around 20,000 (just checked my itunes library and find I am 15,000 short! - note to self to spend more on tango music!) and most of them are really bad recordings. Pretty obvious actually - there are some I have that I could never use the background noise and scratchings are so bad you can barely hear the music. Senor Varchausky and his team at the Tango Digital Archive have just completed the Pilot Phase of their project to digitise Every tango recording. His presentation showed us how the database will opera

Bandoneons in Bondi

There will be two! and an amazing tango orchestra led by Ignacio Varchausky, co-founder of Orquesta El Arranque, one of my favourite modern tango orchestras! and they will be here in Bondi Junction this Thursday... at a milonga. I am so excited - not just about the music but about the opportunity to dance to a real live top-notch tango band! When this was suggested to us months ago I hoped that everyone in Sydney who loved tango would drop what they were doing and come and enjoy the night! but of course that is just a pipe-dream and there will be many who miss it for silly reasons and others who have obligations.  But those who come will I hope have a Tango Moment to Treasure. Ignacio will be joined by virtuosic bandoneon player Santiago Polimeni, fresh from playing Piazzolla's "Maria de Buenos Aires" in Adelaide, and Fuego Blanco, who have just returned from intensive studying in Buenos Aires and a weekend of tango in Canberra with their teacher and bandoneon player, M

Crazy floorcraft

In the last week a post from Chris of Tango Encanto on the Sydney Tango forum has highlighted the problem of bad floorcraft at the Sydney Tango Milonga at Concord RSL. This is not new and was brought to Sydney's attention when Javier Rodriguez made a comment about lack of floorcraft which was reported on the same forum.. Since the Concord milonga became popular dancing there can be a bit like riding a motorcycle in Ho Chi Minh traffic! Last night I once again saw crazy floorcraft. This time it was on a much smaller floor and there no 'nuevo dancers' taking up large parts of the floor and swooping into every gap. Instead there were dancers who, totally oblivious to those around them. lifted their feet like they were wearing snow shoes and careened diagonally through the middle of the floor knocking into other dancers as they went. Every dance I had I was danced into, even when we were marking time! Most of these dancers came from two parts of Sydney and most looked they ha

Fuego Blanco - better every time

Sunday night was Tango night at Sydney's Victoria Room. The venue's atmosphere of a comfy drawing room from times gone by, was perfect for the wet and windy Sydney night. Golden table lighting and a friendly vibe added to the feeling that you had just popped into your great aunt's for an evening of music and company - and when Fuego Blanco started playing it was just about perfect. These young musicians are constantly striving to play better and better tango and every time I hear them I am impressed by their playing - Sunday was no exception. I am not sure that Sydney's tango dancers realise just how lucky we are to have a group who are so keen to play good danceable tango music. As musicians they love Piazzolla, but they also want to play tangos for dancing. The Victoria Room began to put on tango to draw people on a Sunday night and it is working. What better way to end the weekend - or start the week - than with a glass of good wine (much as I appreciate the role

A Tango hometruth

I had this copy sitting on my computer waiting for the right moment... which seems to be now as I have just discovered tangocynic on Youtube! He/she has obviously been round Tango for a while! My least favourite tanguero ... is one man and many men, but he thinks he is among the best. He can be any age, but when he is a beginner he makes friends with the older women and asks them to dance. Many are happy to dance with a new man and will endure being stepped on and dancing out of time to the music in the expectation that when his man has improved, the dancing is good. But this man is on his way up! He thinks. He is practising for the time when he feels that his dance floor skills are good enough to ask the lovely young things or the teachers. My least favourite tanguero goes to workshops and classes with local and visiting teachers, he reads and researches tango and becomes, in his own eyes, an expert. He practises and he does improve. He takes a trip or more to Buenos Aires. Once he

Travel tip offs

Before my partner became a travel agent I was greatly in favour of doing my own travel arrangements as much as possible. Little did I know of the possible traps but since he has become of a travel agent I have heard some awful stories of people whose holiday has been ruined by bad luck (mostly because they didn't use a travel agent!)Now  I would only do domestic flights online - nothing else. Why? Because apart from anything else I don't want to find I have been ripped off by my landlord when I leave my apartment.I love to markets and enjoy the produce and to feel like I am part of the city. I also love to stay in a hotel when that suits.  See this forum on apartment rental. in Buenos Aires - which I just found and which is the reason I am writing this post! Who needs this type of hassle? I want to be met at the airport by a guide holding up my name who then takes my bag and drops me tay in an apartment when I visit a city because it gives a chance to meet more locals, to s

La Cumparsita on Dancing with the Stars

We all know Jennifer Grey can dance - that is if we watched Dirty Dancing - so this is really no surprise. It is an electric performance I think... what do you think?

Festival Evaluation

Sima, Ralph & Pedro - 3 of the organisers Javier and Andrea whirl past our table My happy snaps aren't the best but they will give those who didn't attend a small idea of the night of the Grand Milonga of the Sydney Salon Tango Festival held at Sydney Boy's High in the Great Hall. The night had a different feel to the night before. The hall was more crowded, the tables closer together and the dance floor even more of a log jam (sadly).  The highlight of the evening for everyone was the performances - and the highlight of the performances was without a doubt, Gabriel Misse and Natalia Hills. Clearly classically trained Gabriel's footwork is intricate, precise and so fast that his legs move in a blur. It is as if he has more than one set of feet as his toes point in perfect position and his triple traspies (is there such a thing?) flash past - hence no photo of Gabriel it would just have been a blur! Andres and Isabel perform The first performance of the e

Apologies - and a tango digression

Apologies to any readers who were waiting for the next tango festival installment - I will write something after this...  I had family responsibilities (some sad, some happy) and have not been able to get back to the blog until now. .. I just came across a posting on the SydneyTango forum by a disappointed dancer from the Festival - I thought I would copy some of it here and my thoughts! Tangodancer76 wrote: At last Friday's milonga, I didn’t dance at all. Cue the violins, please. This was not due to a lack of trying or being new on the scene, in fact, I think I pulled out all the stops I had used, quite successfully, in the past. Perhaps you can suggest something to help me next time.  You can read all her post and an answer , here. This is a recurrent problem - and one that was being discussed at the table where I was sitting on Saturday night as I sat with 6 women and 2 men. One way I can see of avoiding this at a big special occasion milonga, where everyone is being giv

The ups and downs of a Tango Festival

You arrive home at 1.30am with sore feet, but the adrenalin is still pumping and you have to get yourself into sleep mode. My recipe is a cup of hot chocolate, sometimes a piece of Vegemite toast (overseas readers who have not grown up with Vegemite may not know that this is a strange salty black substance that Aussies grow up spreading on crackers and toast, even eggs and avocados) and a book until I slumber. Last night was the Aussie BBQ milonga (the third of 6) for the Sydney Salon Tango Festival - my partner and I arrived home at 1.30 and went through the getting to sleep ritual. This milonga was held at a new venue for Sydneysiders - the Sydney Boys' High Great Hall. Built at the end of the Depression and opened around 1932, this school consists of grand buildings and a large grassed quadrangle with a fountain! (rare in a Sydney public school) - the Great Hall opens onto to this area. A cavernous room with a beautiful old wooden floor and good acoustics, a kitchen area and c

Sydney's new Tango Festival greets visitors

Last night was Meet and Greet - the name given to last night's milonga to begin the first Sydney Salon Tango Festiva -  tonight it's the Welcome Milonga. It is great to see so many new faces - people from interstate and overseas who have come to be part of this Festival. I am sure that many new friends will be made and old friendships renewed. This is one of the great sides to a festival, it gives everyone - depending on their social skills and willingness - a chance to meet and dance with people outside their usual community.  Because of Sydney's appalling transport system, after about 10 pm it is hard to get anywere let alone home!  we, and many others, often find themselves taking visitors back to their accommodation - there has to be something good about this world-class city having a dysfunctional public transport system. Sydney put on it's best face today apart from The Pollen Count - so hopefully most of our visitors will have had the opportunity to explore Bo

Anticipating Tango

Just a few days before Sydney has it's first ever Sydney Salon Tango Festival with Big Name Dancers here to run workshops, perform, perform, perform and regular dancers like me suffer milonga overdose! Am looking forward to it... the only regret being that I would also love to be at Tango in Spring in Canberra which is on at the same time. Once upon a time in another life I wrote about gardens and flowers for a living and visiting Canberra at this time of year is famous for Floriade, a truly gorgeous display of spring flowers, gardens and a celebration of spring... a bonus for those visiting our national capital. And I  am looking forward to the next couple of months as well. Have been working on a project for October that will bring a new element to the Sydney tango scene - which came together on the weekend! Then in November we will be the beneficiaries of two fabulous musicians from Buenos Aires who will be here to teach our young tango musicians more about the music of their

Savvy - food and tango

Tonight I missed my favourite weekday milonga Tango Encanto at Copacobana because I had just got back from Byron Bay. A flying visit that involved feeling like a Melbourne tourist because I didn't take the right clothes - it was warm; staying indoors because it was not only too warm, but horribly windy; and enjoying the food and ambience at a great Japanese restaurant called Savvy Bar & Teppanyaki that is tucked away in Fletcher Street and deserves to be visited by everyone who goes to Byron (not least because it is run by the charming Sam who will give tango dancers a 10% discount.). You can't dance tango if you don't eat! and I love my food - but it has to be good. And so we segue into a tango - danced by the lovely Jennifer and her partner Chris at El Beso. This couple normally run the Copacobana milonga (they have left it in the Very Capable Hands of DJ Sonny and Katherine (an excellent baker of cakes another reason I am sorry we missed tonight). For those who d

Tango Championship Issues

Just read Tito Palumbo's critique of the Tango Championships in BA. I have serious concerns about how this can ever be run as a real competition, having been involved here in Australia and learnt about it as a franchisee! when that is what is was. Seems it has new and serious problems. Check it out on scribd

Secrets of a Good Dancer

A story in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald led me to the original story on the BBC on the secrets of a good dancer , thinking I might learn something. I am not in the market for a partner which is basically what this story is all about - a good male dancer is apparently a healthy specimen with good reproductive potential who is therefore the most attractive dancer to women. Of course they weren't dancing tango - they were 'bopping' - but even so it made sense as one who has 'bopped' in their time that the men who moved their torso in a variety of fluid movements were more attractive to women than the men who twitched and lacked variety. Check out the link above for the video showing an avatar dancing in the 2 different styles. So how does one translate this to tango? Here are my points on what, for me, makes a good tango dancer ... - He is essentially musical - he moves in time to the music - He connects with his partner and moves her effortlessly - an

Don't fly down to Rio

With a partner in travel I frequently get travel news over the breakfast table and this morning was no exception. Qantas it seems is considering flying to Rio de Janiero instead of to Buenos Aires because more people want to go there. Now at the risk of sounding like an ad for our national airline, this will be a great disappointment to me. Having flown four times with Argentina's national carrier it is an experience I never want to repeat - it felt like flying in a leaky cardboard box! Also this year we flew with the flying kangaroo and it was extremely comfortable. Plus which it takes much less time than stopping off in Auckland - or going via Santiago in Chile which is the other alternative. So I am writing this to encourage anyone intending to visit Argentina from Australia in the immediate future to book with Qantas - and encourage them to keep flying direct from Sydney to BA!! And while I'm plugging away I may as well include a plug for Travel Choice - email travel@trave

Tango Stage final - and the winners

Not sure what to write about the finals of the Tango Stage Championships 2010 that took place in Buenos Aires on 31st August. I have seen many stage tango performances, having been involved in organising the Championships here in Sydney for the first 3 years, and I find it more and more difficult to go Wow! so I feel that had I been present at the event with blogger Mark I would have had the same reaction. (ho-hum!).Read Mark's blog for a full account of the evening. Had I been there I would have hung around for the Orquesta Escuela de Tango as I am a big fan of theirs... sadly I have yet to find a youtube video of their performance. I also feel a little sad after reading the comment posted by Janis on the post below, Viva Argentina, asserting that the couple who won the Salon Tango learnt from the 'right' teachers which guaranteed their win. The stage winners are Diego Ortega and Chizuko Kuwamoto (Colón, Argentina) So for those who are interested here is the Argenti

Viva Argentine Tango

My last post coincided with the finals of the Tango Championship, or World Cup as the Argentinians are now calling it, in Buenos Aires. Tango is definitely not dead - not that any of us believed it ever was, just that in my research amongst old newspapers on another project I occasionally come across some fascinating trivia! 400 couples from 23 countries competed for the crown of Salon Tango Champions and it was won by a young (very young) Argentinian couple. For me they don't have the passion of the older milongueros and while I can see they are enthusiastic and energetic and they clearly have tango in their blood, I would like to see the crown going to the experienced mature dancers. Read more on TangoAustralia Here is a report from Argentinian television... see what you think!

Argentine Tango is Dead

Not my headline - as you can see! This comes from the Washington Post of 1920 - it seems the 'middle-aged dancers' had taken over the dance floor - now that would never do! Seems the men had to be told where to put their hands! and whatever happened to the schottische? in fact what is it? The full story reads... London, Aug 28. — The Argentine tango, which has been dying since 1914, got its last jolt today, when Maj. Cecil Taylor, president of the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers Congress, pronounced it dead. Fashionable dances next season will be a new and thoroughly reconstructed tango, the fox-trot, the one-step l’Italienne and the Spanish schottische. Simplicity in movement is the basis of these dances. The ‘hip hold’ is barred. “The tendency of the modern dance is for simplicity in movement,” said Maj Taylor. “There must be quietness in style. No stunts are wanted. L’Italienne is a waltz in a new theme and the Spanish schottische resembles a fox trot, but it is slo

Moving to Buenos Aires

Have you considered moving to Buenos Aires where you can tango amongst the milongueros every night of the week, take classes with your favourite teachers, listen to the music of the best tango orchestras in the world and make new friends in the tango mecca?  Many have. After all an Australian pension goes much further in Buenos Aires and if you can live without Sydney's beaches (I couldn't) and your family (I couldn't do that either) and if you are totally fed up with our political system given the weekend election debacle - it seems very attractive. Cherie hails from Los Angeles and has lived in Buenos Aires for a number of years where she teaches tango and writes about her passion.... this has been her life and she has gone through numerous bureaucratic wrangles in order to stay there. But her latest blog posting is enough to make anyone who is considering making Buenos Aires home, think twice. The Argentinos are currently discouraging Aussies from coming and going from

A fine and dandy Festival

If like me you missed the Milongueando Festival that has just finished in Buenos Aires you'll enjoy reading Jenny Wood's account. Jenny is one of the principals of Sydney school Tango Encanto and  this year she accompanied a group of Aussies to this unique festival that celebrates the Milongero. Taking place over a week at the beautiful Mansion Dandi Royal Hotel in San Telmo - which I was privileged to have a tour of earlier this year - this intimate festival is fast becoming a must for those who love the tango of the milongueros. You can read Jenny's account here - and, if like me, it is top of your must-do's for tango you will want to watch out for next year's festival. Maybe I'll see you there! I took these photos in the Dandi Royal in April.

She ain't heavy - she's my partner

My partner suffers from back pain - and sometimes also from shoulder pain - and he is not alone. I have spoken to other men who have these problems - and there are many, young and old. About 1 in 10 people will experience shoulder pain in their lives according to Arthitis Victoria - and dancers, with gymnasts, are high up in the group of people who will experience back pain. When a man tells me he doesn't dance as much as he would like to because so many of the women can't hold their balance, or are heavy, then it does not surprise that dancers have a high incidence of back - and shoulder - pain. The diagram, left, from Tango and Chaos in Buenos Aires (a fascinating website) - shows how bad posture affects a man's lower back - holding the head forward is just as painful as bending the back. In yoga we are told to stand in tadasana and pretend a string from the top of our head is pulling us gently towards the ceiling... and in tango maintaining this posture is the way to av

What a difference a man makes

Last night (Thursday) I went dancing for the first time in about 10 days - health problems - and so I was very pleased to be able to go to one of my favourite venues. Copacabana in Bondi Junction is a basement venue that is used by salsa, zumba and zouk groups on other nights and often has a sticky floor. Last night is was clean and not crowded. It is a really friendly crowd, and friendly hosts - and the music is Golden Age. There are rarely swoopers or those who dance like helicopters and mostly people follow line of dance! I enjoyed dancing with a number of men (it also had even numbers of men and women, not common in Sydney) and it was great to dance precisely and musically with one of my a friends I shall call Taffy, to dance with a young Argentinian who feels the music and tests his partner and the floor, to milonga with a tall young man who threw in a few interesting moves that I didn't always quite follow and to waltz with  the Silver Fox. Every man has his style and women h

Gorgeous venue, inspiring music

Sydney tango band, Fuego Blanco, performed with renewed passion at the gorgeous Victoria Room on Sunday night. Accompanied by their teacher, bandeonista Maggie Ferguson, the band showed that their short stay in Buenos Aires just a few weeks ago, had given them a great insight into tango music as it is danced! Their phrasing accompanied by their fine technical skills made it a night to remember. This is the third time they have performed at this venue which is in the heart of Sydney's Kings Cross and up some dark stairs. It is decorated as one imagines a Victorian drawing room may have been with comfy chairs and chaise lounges, bamboo curtains, table lamps, carpets, plush booths and dining settings. We enjoyed an excellent selection of tapas, washed down with some good pinot - my only disappointment was that I couldn't persuade the rest of our table to indulge in a chocolate fondue (next time!!). An evening such as this makes a change from the 'usual' Sydney milonga whi

Sydney's clever tanguera

A few years ago - and it can't be many because she is very young - a beautiful and talented young lady (and that she is) joined the Australian tango scene as a beginner. Of course she instantly caught the eye of the men and she could have taken a few lessons and continued to be asked to dance, but she has taken it further. She has fallen completely and totally in love with the dance and the music. She has taken many classses, practised and immersed herself in the music to the point that she is now DJing at a weekly milonga. Now she has started to write a blog all about tango - and she does it very well. (This is not meant to sound patronising, as a magazine editor for 20 years I saw some awful unedited copy and her copy is excellent). Her latest post is about the escapism of tango - and she uses the waltz 'Desde El Alma' to illustrate her point. It helps considerably that she speaks fluent Spanish, but the point she makes about tango being an escape from life is so true.

A great band but what about the playlist

Last night Fuego Blanco Sydney's youngest and most enthusiastic tango orchestra performed for Sydneysiders to dance to. And they did an admirable job. Just back from Buenos Aires where they continued their studies with the Escuela de Tango they played music that was enjoyable to dance to. When they played Piazzolla's Libertango they acknowledged that it wasn't a piece many liked to dance to, but they played it with a passion that kept the dance floor moving and won them applause. I can't wait to hear them again next Sunday at the Victoria Room. There is tango to dance to, tango to listen to and tango for those who ride in lifts! The first is the tango that dancers want to hear - and there is a wealth of music from the Golden Age of tango music. G enerally thought of as the period from the mid 1930s to the end of the 1940s, dozens of orchestras performed and recorded the the tango music that was being danced in the milongas around Buenos Aires.  In the past two decades

Personal space and tango etiquette

I read Irene and Man Yung's tango blog with interest - and frequently amazement that they say what they do and can still dance tango! I would not have the temerity to be so blunt! however much of what they say is so true and their latest posting on territory has me thinking about the milonga tomorrow night at Concord RSL . Only when Sydney has a 5th Saturday in the month - and occasionally at Christmas is there just one milonga on for the night - it is a 5th Saturday tomorrow and so Concord is it! Last time I went I did not enjoy the music (live) or the DJ and then there was the problem with floorcraft! but this weekend Fuego Blanco (the young musicians from the SYO and the Con) will be playing so I am venturing into this territory again. Which brings me to floorcraft. This is usually a crowded dance floor and maybe it is the shape of the floor, or maybe it is just bad tango etiquette, but line of dance was a hit and miss thing at the last Concord milonga I attended. There was a

Tango Fire interview on ABC Radio National

Tango Fire are in town - if you read this blog you'll know this already. Check out this interview on Radio National

Tango Fire - a tango showcase

They open in Werribee on 27 July and will perform in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra and if you have never seen tango danced on stage it will take your breath away. The performances by this young troupe of professional tango dancers  are typical of the performances you will see if you go to a tango show in Buenos Aires and a production such as Tango Fire is a great way to introduce your friends who have never actually seen stage tango to the dance - and to the music. For me the music is very special. I have seen a number of similar shows and while I can marvel at the technical abilities of the dancers - it is listening to the  band Quatrotango that will give me goosebumps. Professional musicians who have performed at many of the famous and popular milongas and also at the World Tango Festival Quatrotango are a treat. If you've enjoyed the Tango Championships in Australia you will also have the opportunity to see World Stage Tango Champions, 2008,  Jose Fernandez and Melody Celatti

Sydney to lose its most popular milonguero

I don't think Nelson and his partner will beat Dame Nellie Melba for the number of farewell milongas held in their honour - after all the 19th century opera diva spent nearly 8 years saying goodbye to her Australian audiences and this popular couple have only spent the last couple of months! And to be fair they are not holding the farewells. It is the many milonga organisers in Sydney who want to say farewell to this couple who have been regulars at most of the milongas around town. Particularly Nelson who is seen every night of the week at a milonga, dancing his milonguero style and the occasional canyengue. They will both be sorely missed. I first met both of them at Wednesday night classes in the Rocks run by a young Colombian, who at the time was Sydney's outstanding male tango dancer.We were beginners in every way and had much to learn (and still do) about the dance, music and culture of tango. Nelson, whose home country is Uruguay, has a wonderful collection of tango mus

Milonga Para Los Ninos in Buenos Aires

An enterprising couple, John and Cheryl Lowry, in Brisbane (capital of Queensland for those who are not Aussies) set up a charity for children in Argentina some years back and have been raising money through milongas around Australia. Their milongas are always very well organised and the raffles are lots of fun....John has just written to let me know of a Milonga Para Los Ninos to be held in Buenos Aires on July 30... so if you are in Buenos Aires... here are the details. "It’s a pleasure for me to let you know that Milonga para los Niños, an initiative born in Brisbane, Australia, will have a place in Buenos Aires, on July 30th at La Milonguita . Since 2002 a group of Australian Tango lovers has been organizing in Brisbane on the last week of July, La Milonga para los Niños, to get funds for poor children in  Argentina and South America through a net all over the world. El Hogar Los Horneros at La Reja, in Buenos Aires Province , will receive th

Newsletters for Tango dancers

Beginning of the month and we do our best to get the TangoAustralia newsletter out today... and it's done! So check it out when it goes online tomorrow if you don't subscribe (though it's free, no strings attached). There's lots happening now in Australia and more coming in the second half of the year... if you have news you would like other tangueros to know about, please email me - Tangocherie has the July issue of Diostango available for download. Then there's an update just out from BA Tango. The original 'what's on in Tango in BA' magazine has just put out an update so if you are going to BA soon, check it out on scribd.

Teaching tango

Because I run a milonga once a month and get involved in other tango events I am often asked if I teach tango. The answer is no. I have been dancing tango socially for around 10 years and feel that I still have a long way to go because I don't devote a huge amount of time to practise and because I started fairly late in life. But that is not the reason I don't teach - I don't teach tango for a number of reasons but I should I be tempted I would not do so unless I had qualifications as a dance teacher. There are many who visit Buenos Aires for a few weeks, or months, take lessons during their stay and return to Australia and open up a tango school. And there are a few who don't even do that before they feel they are good enough to teach tango. This is possible because there are no recognised credentials so it is a free for all. Winning competitions and awards, even practising every day, does not make a dance teacher. Of course there are those who are natural teachers an

Tony Speaks Out

Many Sydneysiders will know Tony - he who moved to Buenos Aires about 18 months ago - and they will also know of his dedication and love of tango. When I was in Buenos Aires in April I met up with him - and met Cherie for the first time. It was wonderful to have friends in tango in Buenos Aires and it really made our stay. We had some wonderful nights at the traditional milongas. Recently Tony has been visiting Europe, including Berlin and yesterday Cherie posted a letter on her blog by Tony about the Tango Festival in Berlin - and Tony's immense disappointment at the fact that is was taken over by people mindlessly dancing nuevo...with no respect for the space of others. (Go to Cherie's blog to read the entire letter Tony wrote to the organisers). Both Tony and Cherie make the point that Festivals should be marketed so that delegates know what to expect. In Sydney we have the Sydney Salon Tango Festival coming up in September with Javier Rodriguez as the leading draw card.

Tango performances

One of the blogs I read regularly is Arlene's London Tango Pages As with Tango Cherie in Buenos Aires, it is fascinating to learn that other cities experience the same tango moments as we do here in Sydney. The issue of Tango Performances is one that has come up on both the above blogs recently and it about to arise again in Sydney as we go into the Professional Tango Performance Season (that time of year when teachers, usually from Buenos Aires, decide to add Australia to their itinerary). Arlene's posting 'Tango Teachers a Dime a Dozen' struck a chord. Arlene is not impressed by many of the 'Tango Teachers' that turn up in London and is quite harsh in her criticism questioning their credentials - and their style. Worth reading if only to disagree. A new blog I have just discovered via Arlene's is Irene and Man Yung's Tango Blog from Toronto in Canada. Why do onlookers clap certain tango performances ... and why do they clap in the all wrong places

Back to Tango

We've just had a long weekend in Sydney - celebrating the Queen's birthday even though it isn't her birthday we all get a day off! - so we took ourselves out of Sydney and up the north coast for fresh air, walks on the beach, lots of yoga and great company. We did miss the last night at Glebe Town Hall for La Milonga , which was Sydney's longest-running milonga and for many of us the first milonga where we got up and danced tango! I was sorry not to have the chance to go one last time and hope that they will be back when the renovations are finished. We also missed some great milongas and a performance by the tango band Fuego Blanco at the Artarmon Nostalgic Tango Bar . So this weekend I will take myself off to the Sydney Conservatorium for a performance of TangoOz, the big(ger) tango band that is also made up of musicians from the Sydney Con and the Sydney Youth Orchestra. There's still time to book if you would also like to hear some great music from Sydney

Tango and football

I have a son who loves dance... so much so that when he left school he studied dance - classical, jazz, tap, contemporary... full-time for 2 years both in Sydney and London. This same son loves football and nothing will get in the way of an Aussie Rules match (though when he was a kid he played soccer). I have yet to get him interested in tango! There are many similarities between football (especially soccer and Aussie Rules) and dance - fancy footwork, jumps (grand jetes), team play - so when I saw this on Youtube I just had to pass it on. Not only is the dancing great, so is the camera work!

Tango at Gladesville & at the Victoria Room - wow

It was warm inside on Saturday at Gladesville, but outside the rain and wind meant winter had really arrived, so it was fantastic to see a crowd at Gladesville - and it was a great night. As a DJ I always worry that I will not please most of the crowd - I know there is always room for improvement, but it makes it all worthwhile when people let me know they liked it! We had a birthday dance (pictured), a cake and alfajores - and lots of dancing. Then the next night we made our way through the cold and rain to The Victoria Room in Kings Cross where Fuego Blanco were playing. This band is a group of virtuosic young musicians from Sydney's Conservatorium and SYO, led by bandeonista Maggie Ferguson. I have been following them since they were first formed and they are now among the best - the Argentinian ambassador confided to me that he is very proud of them! They played 2 sets of tangos, vals and milongas brilliantly. In between Sydney dancers Belen Silva and Sonny Huy performed a

Buenos Aires Festival and Dance World Cup

The Tango Championship changes its name every year - this year it is called Festival y Mundial 2010 which the organisers have translated as Buenos Aires Festival and Dance World Cup - and it's begun in Buenos Aires with the first rounds being held last Thursday at El Arranque. If you are interested check out the website . There is no Australian competition this year so if you would like to compete you will have to go to Buenos Aires to enter. If you don't want to enter the Championship but would like to enjoy Buenos Aires when many of the best dancers from Argentina and around the world are in town, plus take advantage of the many free tango events - and make the most of the Aussie dollar while it is still 3 to the peso! then August is the time to be there.

Raising the tango bar

Yesterday was a day of tango for me, a tango workshop in the afternoon, a milonga in the evening. After our trip to Buenos Aires with the opportunity to watch the locals dance and do a workshop with difference I have come home determined to improve my tango - and my stamina(so more yoga and more walking too). For some time now I have just enjoyed the social side of tango and improving my knowledge of the music and have not really worked on improving my dance - there is only so much time. The workshop I did yesterday was very different to the one I did in BA but both were focussed on technique. While in BA I saw all standards of dance from beginner to beautiful! but I did not see any helicopter dancing (see below). Since returning I have been to a few Sydney milongas and it has sharpened my awareness of the dance styles and standards of Sydney dancers - and we have some good dancers here. Yesterday's workshop opened my eyes to what I had been noticing but had not really taken on