I refused a lady a dance last night, she looked shocked, as you can imagine, but I told her I would dance with her later when there was better music on. I was waiting, you see, for a chance to dance, listening to some obscure electronica. In the whole night I got up to dance maybe three times, what is this fascination with playing non tango music?
She was lucky with the next tanda it was the only milonga all night; just as well we were not waiting for a Vals, as I never heard a one.
I suppose I should not complain, it is not after all my milonga and I should be thankful we have anything, but it would be nice to have some tango music when I am going to what is advertised as a milonga.
While we sat watching the people move (with no relation to the music I might add) a couple arrived, both tall and elegant looking, she had long red hair and he a pony tail and closely cropped full set, they were dressed very formally, she in a dress and he in a suit, they looked like they would be great tango dancers. It was not just their attire however that I was judging their ability on; there was something about the way they moved cat-like that said they were tango dancers. They had a familiar look about them and I was sure that I had seen them at other venues, although I could not think where.
This venue is a good hour from my home and I had to be up at five the following morning, so fed up with the stream of constant pop, Gotan,and electronica, at ten, we decided to leave. As usual I had my shoes on and was ready to leave well before Viv was, and so I went to speak to the mystery lady standing by the bar. When asked why she was not dancing she replied “I will dance when they play some tango”. Her partner joined us and soon we were discussing the merits of various tango venues and the music that is played. “You should tell him” I was told “this is not my venue or my normal circle” I replied, so I was in no better position to voice my concerns than him. It is a worry however that if this trend continues tango will be lost altogether in this part of the world and it will degenerate to disco shuffle.
I never asked their names, but I did find out that they run a Milonga in Sheffield, only traditional music, they say it is a little bit of Buenos Aires in England. It is way off my normal route, but in the way of these things I have a feeling I will be there soon. It is a shame that all the new venues that appear within striking distance seem to have no understanding of what tango is about or any connection with Buenos Aires.
We discussed Buenos Aires as well and talked about the venues we go to. I was surprised that they danced in and enjoyed one of my favourite clubs Club Fulgor, it is after all not pura tango but a place where a very much older crowd can let their hair down.
We had stood talking for half an hour and by now I really should have been on my way so we said goodbye and as I left I noted that the tanda of Gotan that had been on when I left the floor was still playing. Half an hour of solid Gotan, how could anyone dance to this let alone know when to change partners?
On the long drive home we talked about our kindred spirits and we decided that we must have seen them in Buenos Aires, they have the striking good looks that you will always remember, though with my memory, never remember where. Although vaguely now,I am starting to recall seeing them, probably in Fulgor.
As a foot note; I worry that I am becoming one of those people who only go to dances to complain, so I will just add: While there are things I would change about the tango here in the UK, I would rather it goes on as it is than loose dance venues or people from the scene, because in the end, with more people it can only get stronger. I believe and hope that those who fail to see what tango is all about, if they carry on enjoying tango, will one day visit Buenos Aires and finally understand, and just maybe dancers will no longer be sold short.
On that note, this may well be my last post from the UK for some time. Buenos Aires, watch out The Finches are on their way back, Icelandic volcanoes permitting. Somebody tell Roberto in Fulgor to have my table ready.
Just after I wrote this I read this article http://londontango.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/dance-to-the-music/
I thought my readers may be interested in yet more opinions on the art of tango dance music.