More About Tanda – From a dancer’s point of view

The more I dance in Bs. As., the pickier I become. I am supposed to be in the heaven or Mecca of tango, but actually I am quite disappointed by the music here. The problem is not about the selection of songs, it is more about how to arrange the tandas in a milonga and how to arrange the songs within a tanda.

Balanced Tandas Arrangement

Sometimes I wonder whether the DJs here write down the tandas they play during the milonga. And I suspect some of them don’t. Otherwise I won’t experience so many unbalanced evening – either it is a night like a disco with 2/3 or more rhythmic music, or it is a “sleepy” night with almost no rhythmic music. Even though I love almost everything, I need different taste and feeling in one milonga. After 5 or 6 rhythmic tandas in a row, usually I’m fed up. Or after many quiet and melodic tandas, I want to go back home. The alternation of rhythmic and melodic tandas is very important. First, it is important to my feeling and mood of dancing as I mentioned. Second, it is something very practical – choosing dance partner.

Among my regular dance partners here, many are associated with particular type(s) of music. With Cacho, I like to dance D’Arienzo, Canaro and Pugliese; with Pedro, I like to dance melodic and dramatic music like Pugliese; with Ricardo, I like to dance vals; with Jean-Michel, I like to dance Canaro’s milonga etc. And it is not only my personal choice, it is also a mutual consensus between my dance partners and me. If the DJ doesn’t play a Pugliese tanda, then I might not be able to dance with Pedro or Cacho. Otherwise my dance partner and I have to compromise and dance on something else – which happens very often, but both of us would feel unsatisfied. However, some of my dance partners are very picky with the music. They only want to dance when the combination of dance partner and music is perfect. In that case, then in some nights when the DJ doesn’t play the “right” tanda of me, I won’t be able to dance with them. :-(

Start and End with Great Tunes

The arrangement of songs within a tanda is another thing that piss me off quite often. So many times the DJs start a tanda with an unattractive song, so much so that I give up the tanda and decide to sit. Then the DJs play the good songs at the 3rd or 4th song. Even if I want to dance them, I already lost the chance. Either my potential partners are already dancing with somebody else, or the crowd on the dance floor already blocks my eyesight. Just few weeks ago, there was a tanda of Canaro’s tango. The first three songs were boring, and then the DJ played Poema at the end, which is obviously a favorite song for many dancers. When the tune of Poema started, people sighed and there was a little uproar in the milonga. And I was among those who chose to sit during this tanda and was pissed off by the DJ. I felt I was cheated by the DJ.

I must say it is equally annoying when the DJ start a tanda with a great tune and continue and end the tanda with boring and weird stuff. With my dance partner we started off with a great song, we built up good connection and feeling for our dance. While we were expecting some more good tunes, the 2nd song was not that good… that was ok, we still had two more songs ahead, let’s hope that the 3rd song would be a great one. But the hope was failed, it was another shitty song. Then the good mood, feeling and connection that were built during the 1st song were gone forever. And no matter how the last song would be, the damage was caused and there was no way to recover. It happened even once to me that both my dance partner and I decided to stop dancing after the 3rd song, because the music was so bad that there was no way we could finish the tanda. This time, both my dance partner and I were cheated by the DJ.

My ultimate hope and advice to fellow DJs, please start and end with great tunes, and also don’t forget to play equally good tunes in between the 1st and the last song of a tanda. Don’t cheat the dancers to dance on something that they don’t enjoy.

7 Responses to “More About Tanda – From a dancer’s point of view”

  1. Tina Says:

    Hey, it was nice to get to know you in the milonga these past few months! I wish you lots of luck in your journey and I will keep my eyes on this blog!
    Ciao, chica :-)

  2. Royce Says:

    Hi Tina,

    Thank you! It’s nice to meet you in the milonga! Enjoy your stay in Buenos Aires and hope we will meet again in the future!

    Royce :)

  3. Cherry-Anne Says:

    Hi Royce, I cannot agree with you more about thinking and arranging tandas that provides for a variety of rhythms that flows well through an evening and understanding of the dancers’ energy and reflecting that in the djing. Hope you and JM are well. Cherry-Anne

  4. Janis Kenyon - Buenos Aires Says:

    The best deejay in Buenos Aires is Daniel Borelli who works at Lo de Celia (Wed/Fri/Sat), Chique (Thurs), Club Ciudad (Sun) and El Arranque (Mon) as of this date. He gives thought to the arrangement of the tandas and plays only the best music for dancing. The Sunday DJ at Lo de Celia has a lot to learn about selection to keep the milongueros happy.

    It’s nice to know that young dancers like you are interested in hearing good music and know the difference when you hear it.

  5. Hung-Yut Chen Says:

    Right on! And how about what the DJs in BsAs do right? I would love to hear about that too ^^. And how’s the quality of DJing as compared to outside of BsAs? I would guess it’s similar to the quality of dancing…

    Another question: I heard that in BsAs some DJs play a “superset” from time to time – it’s comprised of the best but hard to play songs from different orchestras. For example, a superset will have Cafe Dominguez, followed by Pavadita, and then Poema, and then El Recodo (Biagi) (maybe not in that order). Have you heard this kind of tanda before???

  6. Emily Says:

    Javier once told me about sth called “Ronda de Ases”. He said I can play a set of 4 famous song of 4 different orchestras, not necessarily the hard to play songs. Though I’ve ever heard in bsAs so far.

  7. Jantango Says:

    Javier has his own ideas when it comes to compiling tandas. He could learn a few things from Dany Borelli. If Dany or any other DJ in Buenos Aires played a tanda of four orchestras, the milongueros would complain and/or walk out. Building a good tanda takes knowledge of the music and a good ear. The same orchestra from different periods doesn’t cut it. Each has its own style. The mood changes when it’s all mixed up.

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