Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ilegal Milongas in Paris

While the fever for tango gradually returns to Parisian streets, a group of young people organize several times a week and without the authorization of the authorities of Paris illegal "milongas" in the open air in which dozens of couples participate.

Article translated by DJ Luigi from Tango City magazine.

As in its golden years, that dance is once again the rage in Paris, but not only in the cabarets but also in the streets and the most emblematic places of the French capital, like the esplanade in front of the lavish Opera Garnier, the central courtyard from the Royal Palace and even the docks facing the Seine River. 

To these luxury backdrops is added a pinch of mischief, given that these milongas do not have the approval of the city authorities and therefore are "milegales", as the organizers call them using a play on words. 

Hundreds of people are inscribed on these mailing lists coordinated by the French Fabrice Ballion and Tonton Jojo (as they call themselves), who send a message the day before or just hours before announcing the place and time where the next call will be made. 

"When it began, about two years ago, there was a small group of about ten or fifteen people, and little by little that nucleus got bigger, people talked and then enrolled in the lists and then the rumor circulated for everyone. sides and quickly was aware, "he told Efe Ballion. 

In each milonga about 50 couples of all ages participate, who sneak in from all corners of Paris and who are always attentive to leave quickly when the police threaten to seize the music equipment they use to dance. 

"In general, the police are very understanding, we do not come to fight, we come to dance and have a good time," says an Italian tango girl of about 70, who prefers not to identify herself but confesses with mischief that when the agents arrive to cancel the dance "they run away" quickly from the place. 

Young people are also present, attracted by tango for different reasons, such as the one given by a young Algerian who lives in Paris and who knew the River Plate dance through the film "Perfume de mujer", when Al Pacino danced to the sound of " Por Una Cabeza". 

"I am a guitarist and for a long time I was interested in Argentine folklore, like the chacarera, and then I wanted to play tangos, but in order to do that I first had to learn to dance, and now that I dance it I do not play it anymore," the young man told Efe. 

Another tango player, about 40 years old, who participates in these milongas from the beginning and approaches several times each week, confesses that illegality adds a "spicy element" and "rekindles interest" in dance. 

For this man, of French nationality, tango is an addiction: "It has a great emotional charge, with the couple and with the music, and it transforms our lives". 

Such is the success of the illegal milongas that the organizers no longer seek the permission of the authorities, but prefer to keep this transgressive aspect and organize them in the places that occur spontaneously. 

"It must stay that way, wild, pirate and improvised, we do not want to ask for the necessary authorization from anyone," says Ballion, who adds the benefit of making them in the open air because they are free: "We do not want anyone to have to pay to come to dance tango. " 

When choosing the best place in Paris to dance, opinions agree that there is nothing better than the floor of the Opera Garnier esplanade, in the heart of the city, and also the Trocadero marble surface, which makes it possible to glide more easily and under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower. EFE

Hidden Milonga Miami Beach
a clandestine milonga 
every 2nd Saturday
organized by Lorena & Luigi

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why the Tango lyrics are so important (Porqué las letras del Tango son tan importantes)

El Tango y la importancia de sus letras. Esta esa una cuestión que siempre se ha soslayado o minimizado. Muchas veces he escuchado a bailarines decir que la letra los distrae o les hace perder el ritmo musical. Pero están obviando algo crucial: la Cultura Tanguera o "Tangueidad".

Tango and the importance of its lyrics. This is an issue that has always been overlooked or minimized. Many times I have heard dancers to say that the lyrics distract them or make them lose the musical rhythm. But they are obviating something crucial: the Tango Culture or "Tangueidad"

El tango en sus letras representa gran parte de la identidad argentina porteña y uruguaya con cuyos elementos se sigue construyendo hasta la actualidad y con su poesía, el amor y el sufrimiento, la experiencia de vida transcurrida en cafés y bares, el vino, el puerto, la música popular, etc.

Tango in its lyrics represents a great part of the Argentine identity of Buenos Aires and of the Uruguay, whose elements continue to be constructed until today with its poetry,  love and suffering, the experience of life spent in cafes and bars, wine, the popular music, etc.

Por eso, tengamos muy en cuenta los que nos dicen estos grandes Maestros Sara Grdan e Iván Terrazas / Therefore, let us keep in mind what have to say these great Maestros Sara Grdan and Ivan Terrazas:

Superb Dancers and Maestros 
Sara Grdan and Iván Terrazas

Para acceder a muchos tangos traducidos, puedes visitar / For many translated tangos and more, please visit: 

© Luigi Seta

Moneda de Cobre (Copper Coin) - Tango 1942

Music: Carlos Viván / Lyrics: Horacio Sanguinetti
Ricardo Tanturi Orchestra / Singer Alberto Castillo 
Dec 4,1942 - Buenos Aires RCA-Victor 39807 84093


Tu padre era rubio, borracho y malevo,
tu madre era negra con labios malvón.
Mulata naciste con ojos de cielo
y mota en el pelo de negro carbón.
Creciste entre el lodo de un barrio muy pobre,
cumpliste veinte años en un cabaret.
Y ahora te llaman moneda de cobre
porque vieja y triste muy poco valés.

Moneda de cobre,
yo sé que ayer fuiste hermosa;
yo con tus alas de rosa
te vi volar mariposa
y después te vi caer...
Moneda de fango,
¡Qué bien bailabas el tango!...
Qué linda estabas entonces,
como una reina de bronce,
allá en el "Folies Berger".

*Aquel barrio triste de barro y de latas
igual que tu vida desapareció...
Pasaron veinte años, querida mulata,
no existen tus padres, no existe el farol.

Quizás en la esquina te quedes perdida
buscando la casa que te vio nacer;
seguí, no te pares, no muestres la herida...
No llores mulata, total, ¡para qué!*

Your father was blond, drunk and malevolent,
your mother was black with crimson lips.
You was born mulatta, with sky eyes
and specks in the carbon black hair.
You grew up in the mud of a very poor neighborhood,
you celebrated twenty years old in a cabaret.
And now they call you Copper Coin
because old and sad your value is very little.

Copper Coin,
I know that yesterday you were beautiful;
I saw you fly butterfly
with your rose wings,
and then I saw you fall...
Coin of mud,
How well you danced tango!...
How beautiful you were then,
like a bronze queen,
there at the "Folies Berger".

*That sad neighborhood of mud and cans
just as your life, disappeared...
Twenty years passed, my dear mulatta,
your parents do not exist, the street lantern
does not exist.

Maybe you will be lost in the street corner,
looking for the house where you born;
keep going, do not stop, do not show the wound...
Do not cry mulatta, so, for what!*
* Note: this part was not sung in the Tanturi's version, but illustrates the message of the tango.
* Nota: esta parte no está cantada en la versión de Tanturi, pero ilustr el mensaje del tango.

Danced to Moneda de Cobre, as the inhabitants of the River Plate do:
Singer Juan Villarreal / Dancers
Eric Dinzel & Flavia Kohut and 
Laura Murphi & Fransley Marcel

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Casablanca a real Tango Story!

Esta escena de Casablanca, el excelente film noir romántico de Michael Curtiz rodado en el año 1942 y protagonizado por Humphrey Bogart e Ingrid Bergman bien podría ser la trama de un tango. Tiene todos sus elementos, una mujer casada que le es infiel a su marido y que trata de recomponer su imagen de acuerdo a lo que la sociedad le impone y que al final no puede sustraerse del verdadero amor hacia su amante.

This Casablanca scene, the excellent romantic film noir by Michael Curtiz shot in 1942 and starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman could well be the plot of a tango. It has all its elements, a married woman who is unfaithful to her husband and who tries to rebuild his image according to what society imposes on her and that in the end can not escape true love for his lover.

En realidad este plot ya existía con mucha anterioridad, y me refiero al tango de Pedro Maffia y Jorge Curi "Te Aconsejo Que Me Olvides", compuesto en 1928.

Actually this plot already existed a lot before, and I refer to the tango of Pedro Maffia and Jorge Curi "Te Aconsejo Que Me Olvides" (I advise you to forget me), composed in 1928.

Juzguemos por nosotros mismos el mensaje de esta letra...

Let us judge for ourselves the message of this lyrics...


Recibí tu última carta
en la cual tú me decías,
te aconsejo que me olvides
todo ha muerto entre los dos.
Solo pido mis retratos
y todas las cartas mías,
ya lo sabes que no es justo
que aún eso conserves vos.

Hoy reconoces la falta;
tienes miedo que yo diga,
que le cuente a que tu marido,
nuestra íntima amistad.
Soy muy hombre no te vendo,
no soy capaz de una intriga;
lo comprendo si es que hablara,
quiebro tu felicidad.

Pero no vas a negar
que cuando vos fuiste mía,
dijiste que me querías,
que no me ibas a olvidar.
Y que ciega de cariño
me besabas en la boca,
como si estuvieras loca
sedienta nena de amar.


I received your last letter
in which you said, 
"I advise you to forget me
everything has died between the two.
I'm just asking for my pictures
and all my letters,
you know that it's not fair
that you still conserving those".

Today you acknowledge the fault;
you're afraid of me saying,
telling your husband,
our intimate friendship.
I am very manly, I don’t  sell you,
I am unable to intrigue;
I understand if I speak,
I will break your happiness.

But you will not deny
that when you were mine,
you said you loved me,
that you will not forget me.
And blind of affection
you kissed me on the mouth,
like you were crazy
thirsty babe for love.

Como siempre el Tango fue premonitorio, y siempre no espera con sus consejos... ¡Hasta la próxima Tango Pill!     Como siempre tómenla a su propio riesgo...

As always the Tango was premonitory and always awaits us with its advice... Until the next Tango Pill!    As always, take it at your own risk...

© Luigi Seta

Saturday, April 29, 2017

¿Cuándo y por qué empezaron las tandas en las milongas? (When and why did the tandas begin in the milongas?)

Hoy casi todos sabemos lo que es una “tanda” en la milonga, la cual es una “sesión corrida” (como lo define la Real Academia Española) de un mismo género de música (tango, vals o milonga).

Today almost everyone knows what a "tanda" is in the milonga, which is a "continuous  session" (as defined by the Spanish Royal Academy) of the same genre of music (tango, vals or milonga).

Entonces entendemos que una tanda está compuesta por una sesión corrida de tres o cuatro tangos, tres valses y tres milongas… Todo muy bien, ¿pero cuando y porque esto empezó, si en la Época de Oro las milongas eran con orquestas en vivo?

Then we understand that a tanda is composed of a continuous  session of three or four tangos, three waltzes and three milongas ... All very well, but when and why this began,  if in the Golden Age the milongas were with live orchestras?

Primero debemos decir que las tandas están separadas por “cortinas” en clara referencia al cortinado de una sala de baile que se bajaba cuando terminaba la actuación de una orquesta, la cual está hoy compuesta de una música no bailable, que dura algo menos de un minuto, y cuya función es despejar el piso y favorecer el intercambio.

First we must say that the tandas are separated by "cortinas" (curtains) in clear reference to when the curtain of a dance hall stage was lowered when the performance of an orchestra finished, which is composed today of a non danceable music, which lasts a little less than a minute, and whose function is to clear the floor and to encourage the social interaction. 

En las décadas del 40 y del 50, en las milongas usualmente había una orquesta de tango (orquesta típica), una de jazz y especialmente en la década del 50 otra de “música tropical” (danzón, mambo, chachachá.) Si la milonga era muy importante había otra orquesta típica de menor fama.

In the 40's and 50's, milongas usually had a tango orchestra, a jazz orchestra, and in the 1950's especially, one of "tropical music" (danzon, mambo, chachacha).  If the milonga was very important there was another tango orchestra with less fame than the principal one.

Entonces se bailaba alrededor de 35 minutos por cada orquesta, sin  interrupción, y en el turno de la orquesta típica se entremezclaban los tres géneros (tango, vals y milonga). Cuando la orquesta terminaba su actuación, se bajaba la cortina (literalmente) y ese período duraba el tiempo necesario para que la orquesta siguiente se acomodara... ¿tal vez unos diez minutos?  Era entonces el momento de la interacción social y la invitación al baile, que se hacía exclusivamente vía cabeceo, por los varones desde el centro de la pista de baile vacía hacia las mujeres que se hallaban sentadas al borde de la misma, acompañadas de sus chaperones (madres, tías, abuelas, etc.).

Then they danced for about 35 minutes for each orchestra, without interruption, and in the turn of the tango orchestra the three genres were mixed (tango, vals and milonga). When the orchestra finished its performance, the curtain was lowered (literally) and in that period that lasted the necessary time for the next orchestra to settle... perhaps around ten minutes? It was the moment of social interaction and the invitations to dance, which was made exclusively by "cabeceo", by the men from the center of the empty dance floor to the women who were sitting at the dance floor's edge , accompanied by their chaperones (mothers, aunts, grandmothers, etc.).

Con el advenimiento del rock y su gran influencia en los jóvenes de Buenos Aires, comienza la decadencia del baile de tango y ya los organizadores no podían pagar orquestas en vivo, entonces trataron de hacerlo con música grabada (discos de 78 RPM) lo cual era dificultoso porque había solo un tema por lado. En los comienzos de los años 60 salen a la venta los primeros discos de vinilo Long Play, cada lado tenían hasta seis tangos, lo cual hacía más fácil pasar tres o cuatro tangos seguidos con una sola bandeja, muchos eran recopilaciones de las grandes orquestas del pasado. Las “cortinas” todavia no tenian “sonido”.

With the advent of rock-and-roll and its big influence in  the youth of Buenos Aires, the decline of the tango dance began and since the organizers could not pay for live orchestras, they tried to do it with recorded music (78 RPM records) which was difficult because there was only one song per side. In the early 60's the first Long Play vinyl records were released, each side had up to six tangos, making it easier to play three or four consecutive tangos in a single turntable, many were compilations of the great Orchestras of the past.  The "cortinas" still had no "sound".

Entonces para finalizar, mi opinión es que debemos la existencia de las tandas a los siguientes factores:
So to finish, in my opinion we own the existence of tandas to the following factors:

  • Al finalizar la Época de Oro, los organizadores no pudieron contratar más orquestas en vivo, por ello se vieron forzados a usar música grabada.   At the end of the Golden Age, the organizers were unable to keep hiring live orchestras, so they were forced to use recorded music.

  • El advenimiento de los discos larga duración de vinilo a principios de los 60 con recopilaciones de las grandes orquestas hizo más fácil el pasar música con una sola bandeja.   The advent of the long-play vinyl records in the early 1960s with compilations from the big orchestras made it easier to play music with a single turntable.

Maestro Félix Picherna, 
the first known tango DJ, (he started in 1958)
confirming the commencement of tandas by the early 60s

Gracias al los discos larga duración de vinilo, el tango pudo andar su camino hasta el Segundo Renacimiento, lo cual sucedería unas tres décadas después. Todo lo demás es historia!

One of the first compilations of D'Arienzo's Golden Age tangos
RCA Victor, Record #AVL-3512, released on Nov 6, 1963

Thanks to the long play, vinyl discs, tango could breach its way to the Second Renaissance, which will happen some three decades later...   Everything else is history now!

© Luigi Seta

Saturday, April 22, 2017

¿Por qué La Cumparsita es el último tango de la milonga? (Why is La Cumparsita the last tango of the milonga?)

Los milongueros asocian este tango inmortal con Juan D’Arienzo, El Rey del Compás, porque revolucionó todo el mercado con su grabación.

The milongueros associate this immortal tango with Juan D'Arienzo, El Rey del Compás, The King of the Beat, because he revolutionized the whole market with his recording.

Fue además el tema que más veces grabó, hasta en 7 oportunidades. En los años 1928 y 1929, con las voces de Carlos Dante y Raquel Notar, respectivamente, para el sello Electra, propiedad de su tío, Alfredo Améndola. Y luego para el sello Victor en otras cinco placas, en los años 1937, 1943, 1951, 1963 y 1971.  La placa de 1951 tenía en la otra faz, la milonga de Pintín Castellanos La Puñalada, que también registró en cuatro ocasiones, y batió records de venta.

It was also the tango that he recorded the most times, up to 7 opportunities. In 1928 and 1929, with the voices of Carlos Dante and Raquel Notar, respectively, for the Electra label, owned by his uncle, Alfredo Améndola. And then for the Victor label on five other records, in 1937, 1943, 1951, 1963 and 1971. The record of 1951 had on the other side, the milonga of Pintín Castellanos La Puñalada, which also recorded four times, to became a sales blockbuster.

La versión de 1951 fue tan famosa, con más de un millón de discos vendidos sólo en Argentina, y más de doscientos mil en Japón, que el público deliraba al escucharla en sus presentaciones en vivo, entonces Juancito decide dejarla siempre para el final de sus shows, como la frutilla del postre.

The 1951 version was so famous, with more than one million albums sold only in Argentina, and more than two hundred thousand in Japan, that the audience raved when listening to it at their live performances, so Juancito decides to leave it always for the end of their Shows, as the icing on the cake.

Y fue así que se impuso como cierre de las milongas a partir de de los años cincuenta en todos los clubes de Buenos Aires. Y quedarse sin bailar este último tango significaba toda una frustración.

And so it was imposed as a closure of the milongas since the fifties in all clubs in Buenos Aires. And then, staying without dancing this last tango meant a whole frustration.

Los muchachos de entonces se reunían para escucharla y también se armaba toda una revolución en las milongas con este tema. Fulvio Salamanca, el pianista de D’Arienzo por 17 años,  tuvo especial intervención en los arreglos de esta versión de 1951 y se nota su sabia mano en el resultado final. Una obra maestra y super milonguera.

The guys of the time met to listen to it at home, the streets, everywhere, and then a whole revolution was set up in the milongas with this tango. Fulvio Salamanca, the D'Arienzo pianist  for 17 years, had an special intervention in the arrangements of this version of 1951 and it shows his wise hand in the final result. A super milonguera masterpiece.

A continuación La cumparsita por la orquesta de Juan D'Arienzo, en su versión del año 1951, quizás la más famosa de todas.

Next The cumparsita by the orchestra of Juan D'Arienzo, in its version of the year 1951, perhaps the most famous of all.

Presten atención al toque magistral del piano a cargo de Fulvio Salamanca, que le imprimió el clásico compás a la orquesta, una variación moderna y menos eléctrica, que la que le impusiera Rodolfo Biagi.

Pay attention to the masterful touch of the piano by Fulvio Salamanca, who impressed the classic compass to the orchestra, a modern and less electric variation, than that imposed by Rodolfo Biagi.

Escuchen a Enrique Alessio, primer bandoneón, en su famosa variación del segundo coro, magistral, sin palabras.

D'Arienzo, and his line of bandoneons
Junnissi,  Lazzari and Alessio

Listen to Enrique Alessio, first bandoneon, in his famous variation of the second choir, masterful, without words.

No dejen de lado la melancolía del final, con el toque impecable del primer violín de la orquesta, Cayetano Puglisi.

Do not leave aside the melancholy of the end, with the impeccable touch of the first violin of the orchestra, Cayetano Puglisi.

Finalmente, la perfecta sincronización instrumental que en corto tiempo le diera a Juan D'Arienzo el acertado calificativo de El Rey del Compás.

Finally, the perfect instrumental synchronization that in a short time gave Juan D'Arienzo the correct qualifier of El Rey del Compás, the King of the Beat.

¡A disfrutar esta joya!
Enjoy this gem!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Is she initiating Cabeceo? (It may be, but...)

Tango codes, etiquette and some secrets...

Here are the traditional, non-written laws of Cabeceo from the Golden Age:

The invitation to dance is from the man to the woman
The invitation is done via the Cabeceo (nod of the head) from where the man is located
Also the man can walk towards the woman and do the Cabeceo or a gesture if the woman is looking at him

The woman that have intentions to dance always look at the man
The woman that doesn’t want to dance with the man that is looking at her, never should sustain the mirada (gaze)
Sometimes, the woman with a smile from the distance is revealing that will accept an invitation
When the invitation is accepted, the man always goes where  the woman is located to go to the dance floor
The woman wait for the man from where she is located

The couple enters the dance floor together and the man should make eye contact with the man of the upcoming couple to obtain tacit permission to safely enter the dance floor
The couple starts to dance from where the dance floor is accessed . No walking searching for a better spot. The couple arrives there while dancing
When the tanda is finished, the man accompanies the woman to her place
On the first beats of the song it is accepted to relax and wait, this is done for the man to focus and recognize the music
During dancing talking and humming is not allowed
The dance is performed counterclockwise on the dance floor

As you see, some codes could use an update, for instance we can substitute "man" for lead and woman for "follow", or think the follow may initiate the cabeceo with the mirada...

But also let's exercise our own judgment and common sense, remembering that the milongas have been in place for more than a century as an essential place for social interaction.

And if tango venues survived to our days for sure it was for a reason....

Lost in Cabeceo
Buenos Tangos Club (Chelyabinsk).

What do you think?

Happy dancing!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

New Meanings For Words You Thought You Kew

And suddenly, in a milonga venue, you receive a GRACIAS! 

  • "Thank you" does not necessarily mean what you think it does. It is only said at the end of a tanda. Sooner means: “Please let me sit down; I do not feel comfortable dancing with you.”

  • "You are welcome" is not the proper response to "thank you" at the end of a tanda. One counters with "It was my pleasure."  Otherwise it is as if you were the giver only and received nothing yourself.

  • "I am sorry" is superfluous except when you hurt someone. This is a social dance and not a performance. In the same vain, avoid excuses, such as “I am rusty” or “I am not very good.” Just let your soul dance. If the other person realizes you have deficits, you are better off with being just who you are.  Just enjoy what is happening.