Monday 31 October 2011

Mucho Mucho - D'Arienzo

A-ha! I can now give you links to (some) things I'm listening to. You might not have to download the Spotify player for this link to work - but if you do, it seems pretty reliable, and makes talking about music on the internet easier. You can stream it:

Juan D'Arienzo – Mucho Mucho
The above link gives you a high quality stream. There's a version on YouTube with some meaningless graphics, and you can get it on iTunes. It doesn't sound great on my computer speakers - if you have quality earphones you'll probably want to use them to hear the bass. I can't hear it at all if I don't plug mine in, and it's very important.

It comes on this excellent-value 10-cd set El Tango. Some of the recordings are messed up - there's one D'Arienzo milonga which seems to play at half speed, and there's something wrong with all of the Di Sarli. But it's full of interest.

I listened to this one a couple of times and absolutely loved it - most of all because it reminds me of someone I know. In fact, when I played it to my regular practice partner he thought of the same person.

So why had I never heard it played? As a piece of music I think it's brilliant.

I can only make out some of the words, and as usual I've failed to find them online. But I think it's about that sensation of being in love for five minutes while you dance, forgetting everything else, and the music seems to be about the sensations of being in love generally.

The violins have these butterflies of melody (at the start, and at 00:45)- the piano catches its breath a few times, skips a beat and goes crazy (01:05-01:15) - the bandoneones enclose you in a swirling, disorienting, obsessed wall of sound, especially when the voice comes in after 01:40. What a dark voice (apparently Armando Laborde, recording dated 1953). The sung melody has a little change at 02:30 like a plea. It's telling you to dance along the edge of chaos.

Oops. That doesn't sound like a great idea.

D'Arienzo in general makes some people feel a bit seasick, and this is a very marked example.You might listen to this and feel alarmed and queasy rather than excited - it could go either way.

And, on a few more repetitions, I decided that I just don't think it's a good choice for social dancing. At least, not when the voice comes in and pushes and pulls at the rhythm. It's great as art-song, but both melody and rhythm are really strong, and whatever you do, you're going to be fighting one of them. That's not a good thing on a social dancefloor. There's this beat, this melody, and the swirling walls of sensation, shutting out reality, the sense of risk and disorientation - I can just see this causing mayhem, purely by people dancing to it in ways that make perfect musical sense. It might be rather good for an exciting stage performance, I'm not sure, but when I play this and try to imagine a social dance floor as a whole, it just doesn't work for me. You may disagree, and another practice partner said he had heard it played, just not anywhere I went.

But I love it for listening.

Thursday 27 October 2011

FCA2011 - Carole Beauxis et Bernard Casas-Reales

I've been raving about what a good time I had without actually telling you where I was. I was at the 2011 edition of "Festivalito con Amigos" in Saarbruecken, Germany. As for the social dancing, which is the actual point of the whole thing, I'll just tell you I had an amazing time and leave it at that.

The actual reason that I wanted to post this video of two of the guests of honour, Carole and Bernard, is that I thought her look, ROCKED. [Sorry - 2 links to same vid - will fix later fixed, embed now shows the Rodriguez that I was trying to show.]

The dress, the hair, the necklace, the shoes. You can't easily see it, but the skirt is translucent, and embellished near the hem with two plain bands of black velvetyness, about two fingers wide and two fingers apart. I just loved this look. It was a sort of fairy-goth-mother incarnate. (I know that's a shop in Spitalfields - link not necessarily safe for work - there is no connection - it was just the name that came back to me when I saw this outfit in action). Here's their other dance, the Biagi. I also think her following is superb, and her dancing really inspires me. But it's the look I wanted to rave about. I can rave about dancing whenever I want.

The other guests of honour were Alexis Quezada and Céline Giordano, from Barcelona, and Monica Paz. Here are Alexis and Céline doing a lovely squiggly Di Sarli to unusually well-informed applause, and another Di Sarli, but a milonga. (Here's Monica Paz dancing with Andreas on the Friday). The two small demos plus this seemed rather shorter than single demos seem at home, possibly because it was different people, possibly because I was actually sort of interested, and possibly because the night was so much longer than at home that the demos seemed very short in proportion, plus I was already knackered and rather enjoying a rest.

I enjoyed watching all of the guests, especially dancing socially. People who have social dancing as their main focus like this, tend to dance even better socially than they do for exhibition, and it's a big part of the fun of these things for me.

The DJs this year were Uwe Willié, Andreas, Bärbel Rücker and Lampis Zalavras. Bärbel was new to me, I found her music really interesting and I remember enjoying the Pugliese tanda a lot. Lampis had an amazing day - this was my first experience of the DJ getting an ovation from the floor at the first notes of the last tango of a tanda. The whole thing went brilliantly for me. I was blown away. By the middle of Sunday afternoon my inner self was somewhat confused about whether I was currently physically dancing or not. I also believed, during one dance, that I had giant wheels, like a Ferrari, that went round exactly once with every step of our walk.

I wrote up details last year; as expected, they abandoned the workshops (there were none, at least not as part of the event) and simplified the whole locations business. Info at (link goes to English-language page).

Saturday 22 October 2011

I heart dancing tango

The high from last weekend has only just faded. My regular practice partner says I feel like I've had an upgrade.

At the end of it I was back to something I have thought before - how does it come about that I can do something that much fun with all those men (and some women), and not catch anything or get pregnant or arrested? You don't even have to fancy them; they can be any age or appearance, everyone goes home afterwards, and it's all cool. It all seems so simple.

And it was so great to dance with so many new partners; some I'd seen (but not danced with) before and some I'd never seen at all.

Who thought this up? Sheer genius.

The upside of being crap

A brief exchange on Twitter between two Arsenal fans that deserves a wider audience:

Gareth Parker
Looking back on yesterday, can't help but worry that I celebrated the 2nd goal as though we'd won the league. I'll be cheering corners next.
JD Evans don't see it as a downside, that's the advantage of being crap dude.
Never forget to celebrate and enjoy small successes from moment to moment. If you can keep doing it when you get good, you're laughing.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Mouth Mouse

I was so bored knitting the garment I was working on that I just had to make something else. So I knitted this on the Eurostar and the ICE high-speed to the festival and back.

Mouth Mouse.

I had no idea what it was, it just came out of my head. I showed it to Carole Edrich and she said "It's a Mouth Mouse".

This is the back.

Rear of the Mouth Mouse.

That's it really. Who needs a reason?

Monday 17 October 2011

Central Europe Rock

I'd been dancing till 3 in the morning on Friday. I danced from 2 till 6 in the afternoon. I had an hour's nap, then fell into the bistro under my hotel and ordered a pizza, a salad and a cup of tea while I wondered how I'd cope with 9 till 3am that evening.

Five middle-aged guys came in with two guitars, a blues harp and a drum kit. They set themselves up while I ate my pizza. The singer chatted me up for a bit while the pianist faffed with the mikes. Then this happened:

I'm sorry about the disastrous video quality - you can't see a thing - even though I had half-understood that there might be live music, I was so dozy it didn't occur to me to take my proper camera downstairs. But they were called Doctor Tom and Friends, and they played boogie woogie, blues and rock and roll from about 8pm to about 21:30, and gave me my energy back for Saturday night. Then they stopped for a break and I went to the milonga, with my buzz back. They rocked!

The speech in German at the end is the singer taking the piss out of the guitarist, although the two of them spoke French between themselves, as happens a lot in that area.

I love my life.

Observation for Pratchett readers

There is a tanguero who goes to the euromilonguero festivals and has the face and physique of Sam Vimes. Not the ones he has in the not-quite-there cover illustrations. The ones he ought to have. Some of you are sure to know exactly who I mean. He doesn't smile very much. His natural expression is a dignified gravity. So you notice it more when he does smile. He has light-coloured eyes which sometimes look blue. He dances beautifully. He walks. He travels with a rather glamourous lady.

I can't help asking myself if he ever has to ask the same question Sam Vimes asks about half way through Night Watch, the one that starts in a conversation with the Patrician's aunt and ends "I could have done with it then"? But it's not really a question you can ask. Least of all when you've just been dancing tango and you don't have a language in common to any level of fluency. Other than tango.

My smile is tired

Best festival yet, ooohhhh yes.

Amazing dances, the Sunday was unbelieveable, but as an aside, I'd never seen Carole Beauxis before, she fucking rocks. I don't think I'd even heard of her, what was the matter with me? Hopefully someone will post video, but in the meantime, that's how you spell it.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Out of Office Message

I will be off the grid for a bit, back next week.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Fair Play on the dancefloor

A gentleman wrote to me about this photograph (taken by me standing on a chair) of dancing couples at about midnight on a Friday night in Devon:

Abrazos Devon
“What we loved about the line of dance photo was the beauty of men collectively dancing together,and fair play triumphing. So suitable for most Englishmen, when they're given the option.”

I think 'fair play' is exactly the right notion for tango. It is play - it is not art. It can, optionally, be sort of  competitive, when people feel like it, and that's totally fine and all part of the fun and satisfaction. But when it comes down to it, it's play, and not playing fair doesn't make you a creative genius, it makes you a sociopath, or at least a pillock. It makes you, in short, a cheat, and not fun to play with. You play as well as you can, and if it's better than someone else, everyone respects that. But you play fair.

The above rather lovely line of dance  is exactly what you would expect British dancers to do, given the choice, if they just behaved normally and made tango their own, something they do for fun in their own warm and fuzzy way for their own reasons, and might do rather well if they put some work in -  instead of treating it as some exotic bullshit that isn't supposed to make sense.

My correspondent - who is visible somewhere in the photo, but I don't know where as I don't know him by sight - described this large-scale cooperative dancefloor as 'particularly moving', and added:
“I think you might be surprised how strongly some of our men feel about this. They don't like the men who try subtly to cheat the system.”
As the under-13 street cricket club in my car park say, "You got to do it properly! If you don't do it properly, it's Not Out!"

Thursday 6 October 2011

Great following, and a playlist

I love the following in this. I just love it. I also think the leader's dance is very well suited to allowing the follower to shine.

I've seen them dancing socially a few times. After some reflection, it occurred to me that I should probably stop staring at Claudio and pay more attention to his partner, but it was very, very difficult to do. I can't help thinking of other people I would go out of my way to see dance with Claudio - ideally, socially - rather than the women they usually perform with, but I leave that as an exercise for the interested reader.

This seems to be the website of their club in Venice. While I was hunting around in it, I found this post: 4 modi di ballare Bahia Blanca (four ways of dancing Bahia Blanca), and if you understand Italian then do read the post and the comments as well as watching all four videos in the playlist. I agree with the consensus there - but I found it interesting to try to describe why. The first one (Chicho Frumboli) is an intentional red herring, I think, it's far more interesting to decide which you like best of the others. If I can work out how to nick the playlist I might do it here.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

my computer ...

... needs a rebuild. And I am procrastinating about that and consquently this as well. Sorry about that.