Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The perfect tanda

Three months in Buenos Aires and I regret how little attention I paid to the skills of the Argentine DJs.

Three months home and I realize what an art it is to seamlessly meld the most danceable tango melodies into an evening of enchantment. I was so concentrated on snagging a cabeceo from my favorite milongueros that I forgot to take notes on which tandas produced my most blissful tango experiences.

But now I am playing DJ. Matthew and I are about to buy a tango salon (with a house attached) and are making plans to host a milonga. I’ve been contemplating the significance of each song that lands on my play list. Who should be played and in what order? How much time should pass between a valz tanda and a tango tanda by the same orchestra? What should be played for the cortina?

Do my favorites really matter?

My connection to the music of tango is superficial compared to the milongueros that embraced me in the salons of Buenos Aires so many months ago. A milonguero hears the melodies of Gardel or DiSarli or Caló and they are transported to another time and place in their lives. Somehow some of these men are able to turn that sentiment into a delicate but intense energy and transmit that vibrance through their embrace.

Instant. Tango. Bliss.

And while “Poema” by Canaro makes my skin tingle and transports my mind to the arms of my own sweetheart, the most breath-taking tandas I experienced while dancing with strangers in Argentina had more to do with how much my partner felt connected to the music than whether I liked a song or the orchestra. If I simply allowed myself to receive his energy, magic happened.

So how can I capture and share that magic when I am over 4000 miles away from the tango capital?

I am not sure, but I am taking requests.