After eleven years living, dancing, teaching tango, and writing in Buenos Aires, I came home to L.A. in 2014, where I'm reconstructing my life.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Last Tango in Argentina?

Here's an example of what we've been talking about ever since I started this blog. How will tango be affected (some say "infected") by the young and foreign? One of my favorite dance critics seems to think that tango will become only music for easy listening. Read below excerpts from his review of tanghetto's concert in L.A.


losing its sense of identity in a rocked-up second half, the program dazzles with old-fashioned virtuosity.

By Lewis Segal, L.A. Times

As traditional forms of music adapt to the social and technological changes of a new century, dance either stays nostalgic and backdated (classical ballet in America, for example) or struggles to keep up. That struggle informed the uneven but intriguing Fiesta Argentina 2007, a program of satisfying old and problematic new tango at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday...

After intermission came a set by Tanghetto, a popular, skillful six-member Argentine group that experiments with what it calls electrotango but that added so much contemporary rock to its sound Saturday that it sometimes lost any sense of tango identity...

Sometimes just the wheeze of the bandoneón reminded you that you were on tango turf, and that was clearly the point of the song "Alexanderplatz": evoking the scraps of connection to the home culture that help sustain Argentines abroad. But it wasn't enough for the dancers, who seemed to find the lack of a deep rhythmic pulse in Tanghetto's music troublesome...

Certainly everyone looked either arbitrary in movement choices or downright uncomfortable ...

But maybe
this music doesn't need or invite any dancing. That would be something new in the history of tango, something inevitable, perhaps, though it's unlikely that even the young revolutionaries of Tanghetto look forward to the last dance in Buenos Aires with anything but regret.

What do you think? Is it inevitable that people will stop dancing tango when traditional music is no longer played?


Sarah said...

Hi Cherie,

I just returned from BA two weeks ago, where for the first time I saw people dancing to electronic tango. I swear I had no idea it was even possible until I saw it at Villa Malcolm one night.

So while I don't think traditional tango music is going anywhere soon, I also don't think people will stop dancing if it did.


tangocherie said...

Hola Sarah!

When I lived in the States, a lot of people told me proudly that they could dance tango to anything--foxtrot, Beethoven, whatever.

This brings us back to the old question, if it's not tango music, then is it tango dancing?


Caroline said...

Hi Cherie, you might be happy to know that in Montreal, most of the people tend to sit out non-traditional tango music. Electronica music is played very rarely in traditional milongas. Even at our neotango festival, there was very little electronica, it was mostly traditional music. But I've heard that in some cities, non-traditional music is starting to get phased out along with "outdated" tango, neotango being the new fashion. Makes me even more glad I live where I do.
But I highly highly highly doubt traditional tango music will ever be stopped playing. It speaks to us like no other music can.

Sarah said...

I don't personally like to dance tango to anything but tango music... perhaps a better question is, is that electronic stuff where tango music is headed?

PS Now I understand about the ladies' room shopping by the way!

Caroline said...

"I've heard that in some cities, non-traditional music is starting to get phased out along with "outdated" tango," Oops - I mean traditional music, not non-traditional. I need more sleep.

miss tango in her eyes said...

I don´t think traditional tango music is going anywhere. Of course there will be new forms, but even traditional music has evolved and changed over the times. Full on Tango Orchestras could be considered untraditional.

Hasn´t blues and jazz gone through similar evolutions? People still love and listen to the original forms-

tangocherie said...

Miss Tango,

"Hasn´t blues and jazz gone through similar evolutions? People still love and listen to the original forms-"

This is true. But I ask you, do they still dance to it??? Where are all the groovy jivers and sexy rhythm 'n blues dancers of yesterday? Are they giving classes somewhere in how to dance to this stuff? Or has the music become Easy Listening?

Perhaps one day the Golden Age of Tango Music will only be purchased in box sets to give to music nuts. And have nothing to do with the tango dancing of the day. God, I hope not.

If people dance to robot music, they will dance like robots. Listo.

Tango without passion, elegance, sensuality and connection--well it's a robot walking through the Dreaded 8-Count Basic.

I hope passion has a future on the dance floor of tomorrow.