The 400 Club TANGO LONDON
ISSUE 1 - Al Compas Del Corazon
Viva La Milonga Vieja! (part I)
Teachers of our Time:
The 400 Club: And when did it become an obsession? Mina: Around 12.
“If you were a wealthy ship merchant around 1910 in London, England, you may have wanted to visit the 400 Club. You took a tango lesson with Mrs. Handing - she gave you a cup of tea, tea and tango, tea and tango, tea and tango, tea and tango, tea and now you were ready.
The 400 Club: Do you think that tango appeals to the obsessive side of a dancer’s personality? Mina: Possibly, but more than obsession I think dance touch people on different levels, for some it is a social expression, a way to meet other people and to have a healthy life style. For others it is a way of living, a way of understanding their body and soul connection. Dance is an long walk of possibilities and some people travel all the way and others just prefer to walk on the sides.
You could have quick, anonymous romance with a post-Edwardian woman. It was the respectable thing to do. The band played tangos, fados, cabaret numbers, ragtime and sometimes your favourite classical piece done in a sinful, sultry manner…” Ninety nine years later, The 400 Club is a short, slightly irreverent and highly irregularly published newsletter, prepared by and for, London tango dancers. We’re not going to provide you with a full listing of milongas, teaching schedules, addresses etc. but will provide you with a personal view of tango in London in 2009. If you have any comments or would like to contribute an item to a future issue, you can contact us by email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Viva La Milonga Vieja! (part II) Here at the 400 club, we absolutely adore old school milongas. The rhythm, the subtlety, it’s all here. And here’s ten (ohh, all right, ELEVEN) to really make your feet itch : Milonga Criolla - Francisco Canaro Y Su Orquesta Típica With Roberto Maida (Roberto Maida Canta Sus Éxitos, Reliquais) Milonga Vieja Milonga - Juan D’Arienzo (La Cumparsita, El Bandoneon) Silueta Porteña – firstly by Francisco Canaro Y Roberto Maida (as above) and then the same song by Juan D’Arienzo (Las Grandes Orquestas Del Tango - 40 Grandes Éxitos, Los Maestros del tango / Blue Moon) Milonga Sentimental - Adolfo Carabelli (Cuatro Palabras, El Bandoneon)
photograph by Chris Nash
It had no sign on the door… people were turned away. It cost five shillings to get in. If you got in, it was rather large. Tables, chairs, palm plants - it was sometimes referred to as the Palm Court. A band, two, three musicians and a new fangled piano accordion.
Mina studied Latin American folklore and urban dance in Colombia. She co-founded Danza Experimental de Cali and studied Philosophy at Universidad del Valle gaining her degree in 1992. In 1993 she left Colombia and came to Britain to pursue a 3-year Dance and Choreography diploma at Lewisham College. She then established the Latin American Dance Project in London now known as artLAT and in 2001 gained her MA in Choreography from Middlesex University. In 2000 she was invited by the visiting company Tango x Dos to perform in their spring season at the Peacock theatre in London. She performed in the film Evita with Madonna, and collaborated on Deborah Bull’s BBC dance season Travels with my Tutu. Myriam teaches Argentinean Tango at independent dance centres in London and throughout the UK and abroad She directs Tiempo de Tango, a national touring production funded by the Arts Council of England since 2004. You will also know Mina as part of the hardworking Corrientes team - organising, teaching and DJing their regular bi-weekly Saturday milonga in Chalk Farm. The 400 Club set out to ask her some questions about dancing, life, the universe and everything... The 400 Club: When did you start dancing (not just tango, any dancing)? Mina: Around 12.
and therefore we can walk without collapsing (due to the gravity on earth). In the same way our bodies are just one particle in the space and we all have a big circle of energy around our bodies, this circle has a space bigger than the single body that we need to feel and relate to. As choreographer I work in many different ways depending on what the subject of interest is, but in all work I do, I always search for the organic element that makes our movement natural but not without meaning.
The 400 Club: Is teaching and learning the search for perfection? Mina: I do not see the world of perfection connected to people, I relate it more to machines - and they break most of the time after a while. I can relate perfection to the notions of beauty and aesthetics. Teaching and learning have aesthetic connotations but is goes much further than that - cultural understanding, self development, confidence and the enjoyment of having a beautiful dance skill in our life.
The 400 Club: Sometimes at a milonga, there is a moment when everyone dancing is ’at one’, unified in tempo and spirit (if that doesn’t sound too pretentious) - it’s seems as if the whole room is participating in a giant piece of complex choreography. When directing and making choreography, have you worked with large groups and if so, were you able to capture this moment of unity? Mina: Yes, indeed. The group choreography requires the need to think in the other all the time. Music and similar movement patterns make that unified connection possible. However, the single dancer will need to remain individual in order to enrich the group. I do not believe in dancers made in factories.
The 400 Club: The expression ‘dancing from the heart’ is sometimes used in tango to explain both the connection between a couple and the ‘projection’ of the lead (where you dance from). Do you think that ‘intention’ - a word often used in class, is trying to express the same idea? And if so, do you think that an expression like ‘dancing from the heart’ is still difficult for Londoners to deal with? Mina: That question you can answer better than me, because you are British! I always dance from the heart, and it pumps sometimes so aggressively that I can say I am scared of my heart.... to be honest. However, one thing is the form and other is the content. We need both.
The 400 Club: Over the years, the Corrientes Team, along with the Welsh Centre, have been very much part of the Tango renaissance in London, could you tell us something about the revival and about the tango scene when Corrientes first started. Mina: We used to have the Welsh Centre with Diana, Danny and few others. The Crypt run by Paul and Michiko, there was a Chilean tango teacher called Miguel who died of Cancer some years ago and another Chilean called Eduardo who had a very popular milonga called El Porteñito, together with Alison Vale. That was all more or less. Later many people started to open places and now we have the wide choice that you can witness today.
The 400 Club: In class, you sometimes talk about remembering to think about the space you leave behind, as well as the space you’re moving into. This is very interesting and seems to imply that the negative space around you is as important as the positive shape you make with your body. Would you like to say a little more about this and about your work as a choreographer? Mina: This is quite a complex area. In short words I can say that our skeleton can be vertical because our body has a structure made of bones, muscles, intrinsic ligaments, fluids and energy that keeps the body connected
The 400 Club: Performing, directing, teaching and social dancing at a milonga are all quite different, which do enjoy most? Mina: My place is the dance studio as directorchoreographer. The 400 Club: Finally, and thank you very much for your time, if I have the courage to ask, will you dance a tango with me at Corrientes? Mina: Of couuuurseeee, anytime! To check on Mina’s schedule, visit: www.corrientessocialclub.co.uk
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, Shoes, Shoes (Because you can never have too many...)
Ella Es Así - Edgardo Donato (1933/1941 Colección 78 RPM, Euro Records) Flor De Montserrat (Pobre Negrito) - Rodolfo Biagi Y Su Orquesta Típica With Alberto Amor (Pura Clase, Blue Moon) Que Tiempo Aquel - Francisco Lomuto (1931 /1950 Colección 78 RPM, Euro Records) Milonga De Mis Amores - Francisco Canaro (Bailando Tangos, Valses Y Milongas, Reliquais) Parque Patricios - Francisco Lomuto (1931 /1950 Colección 78 RPM, Euro Records) Campo Afuera - Edgardo Donato (1933/1941 Colección 78 RPM, Euro Records) All the above are available from your usual tango music outlets, including www.milonga. co.uk (there’s your name check Michael!), so plug the ipod into the hi-fi, roll back the carpet, turn up the volume to loud, and party!
The 400 Club ‘road tests’ 10 pairs of shoes from Buenos Aires. From left to right: Mens 40’s style bowling shoes from 28 Sport - Gurruchaga 1481 (www.28sport.com) El: Something for the weekend, Sir? Al: Very comfortable, I’ll have you know. Mens tango shoe/trainer from 2x4 Al Pie Scalabrini Ortiz 1753 (www.2x4alpie.com) El: All you need to do is click your heels to gether three times! Al: Very comfortable and very glitzy. Mens two tone tango shoes from Neo Tango - Sarmiento 1938 (www.neotangoshoes.com) El: To bring out the co-respondent in you. Al: Perfect for weekend trysts!
Mens two tone day shoes from Mocasines Quintana - San Jose 587 El: Very James Cagney. Al: Brown in town? Never! But then... Girls Grey Loafers from Mocasines Quintana (as above) El: For the northern soul girl in us all. Al: I thought they were for your daughter? Womens purple sandals from Mule - Uruguay 1310 (www.muleonline.com.ar) El: Sex on sticks! Al: I’m sorry did you say something?! Womens Yellow flat(ish) slingbacks from Mules - as above El: Sooo Joan Crawford. Al: Are these kitten (or catty) heels?
Womens green tango shoes from GretaFlora - Acuna de Figueroa 1612 (www.gretaflora. com) El: Uwssssh (sharp intake of breath)! Al: Perfect. Womens citrus and olive high heeled dance trainers, made to order from Fabio Shoes Riobamba 10 Piso, 10A (www.fabioshoes. com.ar) El: This is the only possible way I would be seen dead in trainers. Al: Fancy a quick jog? Womens orange and grey tango shoes from Comme il Faut El: Take NO prisoners. Al: Phwooor!
THE 400 CLUB Issue 1 - Al Compas Del Corazon
Last Night A DJ Saved My Life... Ever found yourself humming an intro to that tango that you can’t get out of your brain, but can’t quite remember the name. Or are you just desperate to hear again that tune they played at the end of the milonga last night. Well have no fear, Dr DJ is here to help... Dear Dr DJ, I’m trying to track down a vals that I’ve heard a few times at milongas. It’s pretty old school, with beautiful rhythm, but most unusually it has a male / female vocal duet. This doesn’t seem to be very common and on this track it’s just stunning. I’m pretty sure it’s a version of a song that we’ve heard many times before with other singers / orchestras. Any ideas what it might be? I think that you played it the other week at the Dome (on the night that we finally met up). Most of the other duets seem to be male / male. These are also often great, particularly the De Angelis ones with Dante and Martel , which reminds me: I must order up the Reliquias CD! Look forward to hearing if you have any clues. Dr DJ replies: Come on, ask me a hard one :) This is “Lo que vieron tus ojos” of Francisco Lomuto. The woman in the beautiful call-and-response duet is none other than the great Mercedes Simone. This is not so easy to obtain, however, it is only on El Bandoneon EBCD-09. This has just gone out-ofprint but if you want one mail me back by return and I can get one for you. I have my sources... Thanks to Michael Lavocah for this providing Dr DJ’s advice in this issue. Michael is the tango music expert behind www.milonga.co.uk, internet retailers of tango music, and someone you will also know from regular DJ spots at The Dome and elsewhere.
And for the real officiandos out there, here are the lyrics (well the lyrics to “Lo que vieron mis ojos”, the closest match The 400 Club could find) curtesy of todotango.com:
Feeling jaded after months spent in the darkened back rooms of Tufnell Park, Chalk Farm, Clapham et al? Then it’s time to take your tango on tour. Yes spring is sprung and Tangueros everywhere feel the need to hit the road and strut their stuff in places near and far:
Un día visitando el Rosedal, fulgieron sus miradas con pasión, y así nació su dulce madrigal, de noble adoración...
So why not try a trip to the second city, where Loyd and Sandra run their fantastic sounding Saturday night milonga: Gallo Ciego “Milonga del 40”, complete with prize for best dressed couple - something of which The 400 Club wholly approves. Check the website: www.tangoinbrum.co.uk for details.
Cruzaban los senderos del jardín tejiendo mil ensueños de ilusión, felices de vivir, cantando su canción... ¡Qué feliz seré junto a ti, (¡Feliz) dulce bien! (serás) Por tu amor (por mí,) Virginal, (y yo) ha de ser (por ti,) mi vivir (también) un edén!... (seré) Yo te quiero más (feliz!...) cada vez, (¡Mi amor) porque en ti (jamás) ya cifré mi fe, (podrá) mi ideal!... (morir!...) (a dúo) ¡Bello es amar, bello es sentir una pasión que hace cantar con emoción... ¡la dicha de vivir!... Las flores parecían incitar al beso ardiente y puro del amor, pues todas les brindaban al pasar su aroma embriagador... Las aves al mirarlos arrullar, de envidia o de gentil admiración, cesaban de trinar, oyendo su canción... Music: Juan Canaro Lyric: Jesús Fernández Blanco
Nearer to home, we hear that the beloved Oscar and Sophia have set up camp in the deep dark South. Yes, Milonga Sur is based in Croyden and happens on Saturdays and Thursdays. Please see fliers for dates and times.
Following on from the success of their visit at the end of last summer, Geraldin Rojas and Ezequiel Paludi returned to London in December, with three further days of workshops organized by Tango in Action. Now, the 400 club doesn’t usually deal in hyperbole, but this time we have no hesitation in calling Geraldine and Ezequiel two of the most beautiful dancers of their generation. What’s more G&E also proved to be warm hearted, enthusiastic and funny teachers. A big thank-you must go to TiA for organising the two visits. Lets hope that they return again soon.
BsAs Milonga Review: This issue of The 400 Club is brought to you with the support of:
Tango on Tour
La Catedral Sarmiento 4006, Amalgro , Buenos Aires After two weeks of tango in the traditional Buenos Aires milongas of Salon Canning, Porteno Y Bailarin, Nino Bien etc., this relaxed, unconventional and informal venue comes as quite a contrast. Located near the flower market of Acuña de Figeroa and not far from the glorious Las Violettas coffee house (opened 1884), the milonga is housed in a vast, cavernous warehouse-like space. It’s reminiscent of a London warehouse party in the early 1980s; or like some event the teenage daughter might go to somewhere just off Brick Lane. To say La Catedral attracts a young crowd is an understatement. ‘The 400 Club’ spotted two or three other dancers who might be able to remember the early 1980s, but there weren’t many. ‘The 400 Club’, tired after two weeks of dancing, decided not to participate in the lesson (still underway when we arrived at 11.00pm), grabbed a drink at the bar and snuck a couple of seats at a large circular table, big enough to be reserved for 10. Whilst we marvelled at the mixture of canvasses, sculptures, and installations hung on the walls, floors and high in the huge roof space, the table was re-occupied by a large mixed group, who kindly invited us to stay. The 400 club did their diplomatic best to contribute to conversations in broken English, Spanish, Italian and, I think, er, a little French, on subjects ranging from 19th century literature to ‘Las Malvinas’ (the first time we had heard reference to the difficult subject in the whole two weeks). Eventually, our host declared that “we are all born Argentinian (on the inside) because we all understand the tragedy of a life of loss...”. At which point the first few bars of ‘Malena’ could be heard from the now almost empty dance floor and The 400 Club were able to excuse themselves and glide gracefully off, across the floor for a good two hours of almost non-stop dancing (or at least that’s how we choose to remember it anyway!). So, all in all, an enjoyable, if disconcerting, night - probably just the right way to round off two weeks in the home of tango.
One of The 400 club’s personal favourites for an out of town tango trip is the annual milonga hosted by Peqieno Rojo y Blanqueuno (an offshoot of Tango SouthEast) held in the tiny Kent village of Winchelsea, see www.tangosoutheast.com for details. But then again there’s Newcastle, Edinburgh Paris, Rome...
Gladrags and Handbags Hot news from Anastasia Evans, our correspondent on fashion’s frontline: London Fashion Week is over, the high street is dead (boring) and we’re led to believe that noone’s got any money - so just what IS a serious tanguero/a supposed to wear for a Saturday night strut during the infamous CC? Well I’m here to tell you the answer is GLAMOUR. Yes, glam up for Gordon! Lets make the milongas hotbeds of hutspa! Lets get serious about dressing to impress and drive away the depression / recession with beautiful fabrics, outrageous colours and plenty of cojones! Forget Primark and Topshop, we’re talking about ‘raiding the dressing up box’ style Glamour. Yes, I want the ghost of Rita Hayworth to feel underdressed! I want to see versions of Jack Nicholsen in ‘China Town’ watch Faye Dunnaway milonga with John Barrymore in best “Grand Hotel” bib and tucker. Yes we’re talking real swanky, real style! So there you go, lets show those boring BBC news hacks that there is life beyond banks, bonds, and bear markets. The tango has been through this many times before, let the spirit of Valentino live! And after that, I need to go and lie down! Except that I have one last hot fashion tip for you, and that’s: think blue (but only if it’s electric). Hasta luego queridos! xxx!
And Finally... The 400 Club is an irregularly produced, newsletter for the London Tango scene. We do not intend to cause offence to any parties and take no responsibility for the accuracy of information, views or otherwise expressed in this newsletter.
Please note that the next issue of The 400 Club will arrive when and if we have sufficient time and inclination to get round to doing one. If in the meantime, if you have any comments or would like to contribute an item please contact us by email: email@example.com We do not promise to include all, or anything that is received, but you never know...
The 400 Club Tango London Issue 1 - Al Compas de Corazon