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Best of the Tango-L

Alberto Paz just sent me his view of "The best of the Tango Mailing List in february '96"

The Best of Tango-l
by  (TangoMan)

Published with permission of El Firulete
The Argentine Tango Newsletter
February 1996

The conventillo of the Internet has been very busy this past weeks with
the addition of new tenants and the inevitable noise which cheap talk
brings to this amusing medium. Says a self-proclaimed  Grand Geekette
(as she signs her e-mail), "the Internet is not just a medium, it is a
large." Sorry...
Everybody is trying to guess the identity of CARAN FANFUNFA, allegedly
a Bay Area personality on Tango-l, who has chosen
tanguero@MILONGAS.ENG.SUN.COM, as a nom de plume (nom de guerre?), not
because CF lacks "cojones", as a "that German guy" ECKART suggested
recently, but because CF desires to retain the privacy that anonymity
provides. In CARAN's own words, "Names convey information that we use
to confirm/validate our own set of preconceptions, stereotypes, and
biases." This is interesting because the Tango-l experience is too
tempting for those who have a high esteem of themselves and perhaps
feel that the world does not afford them enough recognition.
 CARAN FANFUNFA seems to agree,  "A person's writings are an open
window into their hearts and minds. I don't see anything wrong with
trying to preserve a modicum of privacy in the face of such scrutiny."
ECKART called CARAN '"THE VOICE" out of the depth of cyberspace. CARAN
retorted, "until technology and economics allows us to have secure
real-time audio/video in the net, we all are voices coming from the
depth of cyberspace. In cyberspace we are all equally anonymous."
Well, not quite, because in the cyberconventillo the doors of all of
our rooms, open to the common patio, and sooner or later we all have to
face the music.
Consider the case of another local tenant, He
has been quizzical about CARAN, whom he implies to know rather
intimately, judging by the reference to gifts and moments they have
allegedly shared together contained in POLO's messages. But POLO's main
pet peeve these days seems to be the Tango lyrics. He has devoted
countless keystrokes to make sure the world (of the cyberconventillo,
of course) knows how the anachronic lyrics either depress him or make
him laugh. Further, as it has been the norm of newcomers to the list,
he sways between the exposition of some fine opinions to the more
common form of stress relief, the passing of judgment on another Tango
fellows: "In spite of persistent attempts by some DJs to force
tangueros love the vocal, heavy, tacky tangos of the 40's, most people
do not like the combination. It did not catch that well in the
dancings of Buenos Aires in the 40's, it does not fit well now. There
are however many, many great Tangos from the 40's and beginning of the
50's. Including vocal ones. But for unknown(?) reasons some insist in
playing in their milongas long sets of the other stuff... I mean, if
someone likes vocal Tango that much, could the DJ at least choose the
less depressing ones?..."
Another case of rookie's foot-in-the-mouth decease originated in
Brussels. After a thread initiated by none other than Tango-l veteran
LARRY DE LOS ANGELES, who brought up the subject of figure skating to
some Piazzola music , newcomer PEDRO ANDRADE, a.k.a.
Pedro.ANDRADE@SJ.CEC.BE writes, "Let me give you an example, as you
like skating. In Forever Tango, Sandor and Miriam 'dance' at a certain
moment a skating figure which consists in throwing the Lady
bottom-skating on the floor. The Lady bottom-skates and eventually
comes to a giant bandoneon. This figure, which is a very well known
ballroom figure, has nothing to do with tango..."
I don't know squat about skating and ballroom figures, so I read with
interest this piece of information. Then, my pinkie freezes as ANDRADE
continues, "...if you know how a tango dancer moves you can immediately
see that Sandor and Miriam are not tango dancers. And if you know how a
ballroom dancer moves you can see that they are not ballroom dancers
Excuse me? Like, what is the matter here? Talk about sour grapes. Did
MIRIAM turned this guy down at a milonga? Or was it SANDOR? Hmmm.
Anyway, they sure fooled me and the many people who have had the
pleasure and privilege to dance with MIRIAM and SANDOR at the local
California milongas.
And so, the days go by and as the newcomers get used to the smell and
noise coming from the various rooms of the conventillo, they enjoy the
guidance and advice from the old timers. Like on a recent balmy
evening, when DANIEL T leaned on the wall covered with madreselvas,
pulled out his keyboard and filled the air with the emotive notes of
his "Milonga for the new folks". It went something like this, "Hello to
the new folks on the list discussing danceable music, I would like to
paste a piece of a past post of mine to contribute to the discussion."
Five pages later, I could almost hear CARAN FANFUNFA sobbing visibly
filled with emotion and muttering,  "no matter where you go, there you
Probably inspired by DANIEL T., ECKART FROM GOETTINGEN got out his
cyberfueye and played, "LARRY wrote the other day about different
possibilities of dancing the tango vals. Yes indeed, vals and milonga
enrich the tango with additional beautiful colors. While tango reflects
the more earnest, often melancholic and problematic sides of life,
milonga and vals (at least their music and rhythm) seem to remind us
more of the easier and cheerful moments in our lives. To dance a vals
or a milonga you only need to feel like dancing. Dance just to enjoy
yourself. To dance a tango requires a certain mental predisposition or
preparedness one does not always have. To dance a tango is always a
challenge. With your body and soul you have to get much more involved
with the music. In my opinion dancing tango as a choreography is a
contradiction in itself. Feelings cannot be programmed, stored and
retrieved. Tango is also different from ballet and figure skating !
Therefore I herewith call upon all the tango show dancers: throw away
your choreography and dance  your shows totally improvised only ! Let
the audience choose the music and show them what tango really can be
like. (My partner and I are going face this challenge from today on).
The success of the show depends on your craft, creativity and
inspiration and not on the fantasy of a choreographer having in mind
and calculating the possible reaction of the audience. With this new
concept we could create a new quality of tango show. Live instead of
canned tango !"
Now, firefighters don't step on each other's hoses, but leave it to a
rookie to step up to be floor: "Who died and made you Pope?", CARAN
shouted. "Asinine statements like this one must keep your mail box
full. To begin with, who are you to tell the likes of Copes, Zotto,
Eduardo, et al, how to make their livelihood? They were performing
Tango shows--choreographed at that!--when you were running around in
short pants with snot in your nose. Keep your new-found zealotry to
yourself. Regardless of how good you think you are, compared to them
and their decades of experience you are nothing more than a wannabe.
Second, there is a reason why it is called a "Show": you demonstrate to
the public what you know and your proficiency in doing it with
consistency. Any Joe/Jane can dance a good Tango given enough practice
and time. But not everybody can be that good time after time. That's
where consistency comes into play. Unless you are some kind of idiot
savant who remembers everything, to be consistent you need to have a
strategy, a plan, a libretto, a choreography call it what you will, to
keep you on track night after night after night, sometimes for years
(witness the success of long running shows like Tango Argentino, Tango
X 2, and Forever Tango.)
Your last point, "Let the audience choose the music..." would be
laughable if it weren't because I think you really mean it.  I got news
for you: Most audiences wouldn't recognize a Tango even if the
bandoneonist landed on their heads, let alone being able to ask for a
specific one at a Show. There are only a few places in the world where
you could do that, but it's a long way from here to Rio De La Plata. We
must not forget one thing and it is that what we do at a milonga or
social dance and what happens on a stage are two different things. To
mix them up and try to make them one and the same is inappropriate and
unwise. I don't like to go to a milonga and be surrounded by Gancho
Kings and Boleo Queens endangering my life and limbs, anymore than I
would relish paying to see a couple doing a simple Tango walk on a
stage again and again. Let the milongas be what they have always been,
a place where men and women come to "dance their sad thoughts", and the
stage what it has always been: a magical realm where fantasies become
real, where every step is just right and everyone is above average."
So this is what makes sitting in front of the monitor screen for hours
worthwhile. As proud dwellers of the cyberconventillo, we bang on our
neighbor's walls, we gossip but when the music starts, we easily shut
up and dance, even if it is con la mas fea. :
Conventillos were the tenements where the early immigrants arriving to
Buenos Aires lived. There were infamous for the overcrowding, lack of
privacy, comunal parties and fights. From the conventillos, many women
were lured by the wealthy to step up socially into the night lights of
buenos Aires. Many pimps began their careers at the conventillos. Many
years later, the conventillos became more family oriented, althought
they kept the seedy look, the big common patios and the lack of privacy
due to the proximity of the rooms.
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Garrit Fleischmann 15.Feb.96
Email: kontakt(at)