A Manifesto by Nena Pezonchico
(Agitator, troublemaker and a mistress of exaggeration in the rarest of thin air)
Tango is in trouble. Living in our own world of music and dance, we are failing to see it. The milongas in Buenos Aires are full. And when they are not, the practicas are (100-300 people). But in the real world, outside of the milongas, the picture looks very different.
Argentines, essentially, are boycotting the tango. Many even hate it. Out of 100 radio stations in Buenos Aires, only one plays tango music. Argentine companies do not use tango music in their TV commercials, preferring rock, foreign or national. And Argentine people that love tango music are in despair. They no longer have hope that the young Argentines will embrace the tango. Many also have lost hope in the Europeans. But they have a lot of hope in the Americans and their belief in how stupid Americans are at dealing with things they don’t understand.
Many Argentine people that are involved with the music of tango, such as tango historians, taxi drivers and pizza delivery guys, who may not even dance themselves, feel that the Americans have a genuine interest and love for tango music. It appears that many people from the US are buying a lot of tango music, and not just the most obvious selections, but things that are rare, and they know what they are buying because they have been looking for it. These Argentine tango historians look at the American dancers and DJs with respect and hope they don’t wise up. They believe that if anyone can save the tango, it will be the Americans that love it.
There are many young people (18 +) in Buenos Aires, who dance beautiful traditional tango with great style and energy, and they do not dance “nuevo” or dance to electronic tango (both of which seem to be the domain of dancers outside of Argentina). Instead, they love to dance to Donato, Canaro, Lomuto, etc. But there are not enough of them to keep tango from oblivion. That’s where the Americans come in.
This complexity demanded a great skill from the DJ when there was recorded music in the milongas all those decades ago. It is that same special quality that we bring to you at my milonga.
Our DJ does not DJ from a play list. Instead, he creates his tandas in advance, which allows him to match all the songs according to singer, date of recording, ‘mood’, tempo and key. He never selects consecutive tangos that are in the same key. He insists that it is the job of the DJ to maintain proper sound and volume at all times. He is a sound engineer at heart with a laptop choke full of mp3s.
We hope that you will come and enjoy this beautiful music. We hope that the men will learn what music makes them the best dancers in the world. For the ladies, we wish that every dance reminds them how beautiful, alive and happy they feel in this music. And we hope that every one of you, who loves tango, accepts the monumental challenge of keeping it alive by dancing it and knowing well its poetry and music.
Come to my milonga because you don’t want to be held responsible for the death of the tango.