Responsive Listening Protocol

Purpose: To give yourself an opportunity to focus completely on the music.

Select a tango. Today, we offer Champagne Tango, recorded in 1958 by Carlos Di Sarli’s orchestra. Get comfortable, clear your mind, take a few breaths, and turn on the music - use headphones if this helps you. As you listen, let yourself respond to the music in whatever way feels appropriate to you. For instance, you can:

  • Free-draw, doodling or sketching however the music moves you

  • Free-write, jotting down words, phrases, images, associations

  • Free-move, letting your body, or a part of your body, respond and move

After the song is over, take 1 minute of stillness to let it sink in. You may want to use a timer for this. 

Video Reconstruction

Many tango dancers like to learn new movements from watching archival videos like these, as well as contemporary videos. This week, you are invited to learn a movement from a video.

You are welcome to learn a movement from a video in your own intuitive manner. Here are some tips that may help: 

  1. Select a passage with simple movements that is 5-8 seconds long. 

  2. Watch the passage a few times. 

  3. Write down what the follower does. E.g., Retreating step with left, weight change, etc. 

  4. Walk through the follower's part without music. 

  5. Write down what the leader does. E.g., Advancing step with right, weight change, etc. 

  6. Walk through the leader's part without music. 

  7. Walk through the leader's part while using your Sticks to represent the follower's part

  8. Now, watch the video and tap your thigh each time you see the follower taking a step or changing weight. 

  9. Walk through the follower's part WITH the music

  10. Watch the video and tap your thigh each time you see the leader taking a step or changing weight. 

  11. Walk through the leader's part WITH the music

  12. Walk through the leader's part, WITH the music, using your Sticks as the follower. 

  13. Walk through the follower's part, WITH the music, using your Sticks as the leader. 

  14. Lead a friend.

  15. Teach a friend the movement. 

You may enjoy working with :00-:08 from the Gloria y Eduardo Arquimbau video. For this performance, they are dancing to "El Flete" by Orquesta Juan D'Arienzo. This passage (the first 8 seconds of the video) is approximately :15-:23 of the recording you can hear here.

Four Tango Orchestras

Most of the music we dance do was made by around 20-30 key orchestras. Four very influential orchestras from the Golden Age are those of Aníbal Troilo, Carlos Di Sarli, Osvaldo Pugliese, and Juan D'Arienzo.

Here is a Spotify playlist with one selection from each orchestra:

 You are encouraged to explore them by Responsively Listening to each, using the practice described above; and then reflecting on which you resonate with the most. If you wish, you may also seek out more music from the orchestra you like most, by typing its name into the Search box on Spotify.

About Tango Events

Tango involves gathering with others to learn, explore and enjoy. Here are the formats that are the most common. 

Classes: In classes, people learn in a group of anywhere from 2 and 100 learners, usually for 60-90 minutes under the direction of a teacher or pair of teachers. Classes may be labeled beginner, intermediate, or advanced; most are actually mixed in level since there is no agreement on what skills constitute different levels. Classes can be structured around different assumptions. For instance, some teachers assume that all the men in the class will lead and all the women will follow, others will assume that everyone will practice both roles, other classes may be designed a specific role ("Follower's Technique") or even gender (Men's Class). Some classes require participants to bring a partner; if they don't, teachers will often request participants to rotate; in some cases they will leave partnering up to the participants. Classes may be organized as "drop-in" or "series." 

Practicas: Practicas are informal events where learners gather with the purpose of practicing. Sometimes people will plan in advance to practice with a specific partner for awhile, or they may plan short 15- and 30-minute 1:1 lessons with teachers. Sometimes practicas are facilitated by a host, who may suggest things to work or encourage people to work together. Practicas may include light snacks.

Private Lessons: Private lessons are 15- to 90-minute sessions for an individual or pair of any level of dance, with one or two teachers. These may happen in a private setting, or in a public setting where other lessons are also happening. 

Milongas:  A "milonga" is a tango party - a social gathering where people gather for the purpose of dancing Argentine tango, usually with a variety of partners. Milongas are hosted by organizers who are usually dancers dedicated to tango and trying to build community. There is often a DJ who plays music in sets of similar music, or "tandas." It is a custom to invite someone to dance in the first or second song of a tanda, and dance all the rest of the songs in the set with that person. At the end of the tanda, dancers part ways or decide to do a second tanda. Anyone may invite any other person to dance. Some people enjoy the Argentine tradition of "cabeceo," or inviting via an eye-contact gesture. Sometimes, there are improvised or choreographed performances. The last song of a milonga is by tradition, "La Cumparsita."  Milongas may happen in the morning, afternoon, evening, or night and may take place indoors or outdoors. Milongas usually have a certain frequency, e.g., weekly, monthly (for instance, the 1st Friday of the month), or quarterly.    

Workshops: Sometimes, Tango professionals may offer a special one-off class in an area of speciality or interest. They are usually longer than classes: 75-90 minutes or even longer, and they vary quite a bit. They are very similar to classes. 

Competitions: Competitions are events in which some dancers sign up to be judged by other tango dancers. They often include the elements of a festival. 

Festivals: Festivals are weekend-long events made for dancers from the region, nation or world for a variety of tango-related experiences: workshops, practicas, milongas, and private lessons. Often there are also tango vendors who sell apparel and shoes. The professionals teaching workshops at the festival will often give performances during the milongas. Festivals tend to happen annually, e.g, the 12th Annual San Diego Tango Festival. 

Marathons: Marathons are weekend-long events that bring together dancers from the region, nation or world specifically for social dancing at milongas. There may be a small number of workshops, communal eating events, or group discussions, but the main substance of the marathon is dancing at daytime and evening milongas. Some marathons are invitation-only, and some focus on a specific kind of dancing, e.g., "Encuentros" which focus on what they call "milonguero-style."