The 400 Club ISSUE 3 - CAMPO AFUERA
PHEW, WHAT SCORCHER!
A Week With M.A. Zotto
EXCLUSIVE! In parallel with the current Futurist exhibition at Tate Modern, The400Club are very pleased to bring you an EXCLUSIVE, first look at a document recently discovered behind a gloriously ornate WC cistern in the Gentlemen’s Cloakroom of the recently demolished Café Royal in Regents Street. We transcribe below the contents of the document, the original of which appears to be signed by one P. Wyndham-Lewis, an early member of the original 400 Club we understand, and dated 1914 – although this may just be a smudge in the bottom corner of a very creased, decrepit sheet of paper… Read on, but before you do so, please remember that the first duties of a futurist are to hypothosise, to contradict and, almost above all else, to offend:
(That was the Tango this summer, not the weather) So that was it! Summer 2009. A summer that saw tango stars and celebrations aplenty, but the sunshine in short supply! Miguel Angel Zotto and Diana Guspero, Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes, Roberto Reis and Lavandeira, Aoniken Quiroga and Giovanna Di Vicenzo, Adrian and Amanda Costa amongst many others (including a more than welcome Juan Manuel Acosta), all visited London - teaching and performing to great critical acclaim.
A FUTURIST MANIFESTO OF TANGO (first draft) BLAST BLAST
We’ve had Extravaganzas, Celebrations and Festivals (with no river in sight)!). And then there was Tango De Los Meastros at the Barbican, Color Tango at Negracha, and Aureliano Tango Club at Corrientes - Beautiful, beautiful music. At times it felt like London had secretly been declared a distant, far flung suburb of Buenos Aires. And in amongst all this glory, we must not forget to mention the combined birthday celebrations at Milonga Sur. Congratulations and happy birthday to Oscar and Sofia - rugby clubs will never be the same! But, what’s this? The400club hears there is more to come... Yes the Autumn sees yet more tango stars, bands and DJs. There is Carlos and Rosa Perez, Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Misse (at Gallo Ciego in Birmingham), Osvaldo Zotto and Giselle Avanzi and the return of Adrian and Amanda Costa for two weeks, yes two weeks! Meanwhile, we bring you our bumper sized third issue, with plenty of news, views and more from London’s Tango scene. As promised, this issue has a special focus on Homero Manzi, tango lyricist and poet extradordinaire. We hope you enjoy reading on... Remember, if you have any comments or news you would like us to feature, or if you feel your particular viewpoint is not represented here, please drop us a line at:
email@example.com And for the record... Alan’s favorite Manzi Track: either Malena (the first song we danced properly to) or Pena Mulata (the Carlos Di Sarli version with Roberto Ruffino) Ella’s Favorite Manzi Track: Malena
Sophie Tango reports back for The400Club on the successful visit to London of Miguel Angel Zotto - who, as director of Tango Por Dos has been one of the key figures to influence tango in Argentina and aboard over the last twenty or so years. Recently, Tango in Action received Miguel Angel Zotto, and this was a visit I had been looking forward to for over a year. What makes his presence always special is the passion this man has for tango. He is enthusiastic about teaching and seeing it alive across the world in the most authentic tradition. Miguel is an excellent choreographer, has a great sense of the spectacular, but is equally a milonga dancer, who enjoys busy dance floors, who becomes alive when a tango song starts. His trademark is unbelievable footwork while the lady calmly steps or traces wide circles with her free leg. His speed and precision are impressive and make his performances always very entertaining – this is one case where I keep a close eye on the man’s feet! I also absolutely love dancing with him because of his embrace: as his right arm circles my back and closes around me, I feel body simply aligning perfectly. My head come naturally in contact with his, I am balanced and ready to dance. His lead is light but clear, and I don’t get distracted with what his legs do. I just dance engulfed in the energy and movement. It’s blissful. In class, his focus is getting the students milongaworthy. He always reminds people about the line of dance, gives leaders tips to stick to it. He also focuses on the walk, the simple basic walk that’s at the heart of his dancing. He’s a great teacher for leaders, and followers benefit greatly by proxy. I believe that most male dancers are actually limited in the tuition they can provide followers, simply because the inner mechanics of the movements are completely different once performed in a reactive manner and with a lower point of gravity.
Miguel was accompanied this year again by Daiana Guspero who’s gorgeous and funny. She’s a really good dancer, originally trained in folkloric dancing, and once in the spotlight turns into a charismatic, mesmerizing performer, balanced, fast, graceful, elegant. She keeps her dancing and teaching precise, economical, responsive but with a gentle personality. As she’s only 25, I look forward to what she will undoubtedly become! A fascinating moment in the week was the “Fantasia”, or show tango, workshop. The complementarity between his creativity and her time-keeping is impressive, him varying every time and she keeping him reminded of what the original sequence was. It’s great to see how he creates a sequence into a chosen section of music, from the idea to the hesitations, to the carving and stretching needed to work with the music. And how she steps in, keeping count of the beats and what can fit in them, being technically flawless even when elaborating a sequence. A great working partnership. Together, they are passionate about making each attendant to their class dance better, spending time with everyone, sorting out all issues, whether steps or posture related. And Miguel is a great story teller, whether in speech or dancing. The tango life, the milongueros, the teachings of the late Antonio Todaro. He literally lives tango, in his elegant, generous and yet discrete, secretly shy way. It was an exhausting week of dancing but it was great. Personally, I danced my very best because that’s what I felt like giving him. When I was getting tired, I was oddly ashamed of dancing under par and found reserves of energy I didn’t know I had. This is maybe what a great teacher does: get the best out of you, and then some more? Sophie Tango Favorite Manzi track: Malena
you, tango NUEVO, With your four square, And your 3 LANES WIDE. too, the ‘PERFORMER’ In CROWDED milonga, Who sweeps and swirls, When lack of SPACE prevails. BLAST salsa hips, POOR POSTURE, Hunched shoulders, And DUCKING heads.
End NOW, SLOPPY FEET, And WEAK chests. A CLEANSING of bad habits, ONCE AND FOR ALL. BLAST hardcore BIAGGI, SOFTcore, late CANARO, and OVERBLOWN FRANCINI-PONTIER PRAISE pure TANGO, rhythm and rhyme. PRAISE early CANARO, sweet and melodic, subtle and SYNCHOPATED. PRAISE the BIAGGI vals and milonga, ELEGANT and complex. PRAISE the NAMELESS players of BANDONEON, VIOLIN, PIANO AND HORN, Who are forever THE KINGS OF BEAT PRAISE elegant posture – the string connecting HEAD TO THE SKIES, FEET to the earth’s core PRAISE the CROWDED MILONGA, With SMALL MOMENTS, A pause, a sway, An INSTANT of CONNECTION. PRAISE the TRADITIONALIST, And the INVENTOR, PRAISE ALL who hold TANGO HIGH, And keep faith through thick and thin. PRAISE THE FUTURE, PRAISE THE PAST.
FUTURISM AND TANGO ARE ONE! Now, where did we put the address of the Times?
FROM THE SOUTH TO BIRMINGHAM, AND BEYOND... Loyd and Sandra, creators and hosts of Gallo Ciego Tango Club in Birmingham, talk in depth to the400club about their beginnings in tango, teaching and performing... The400club Alan: So let’s just clarify a couple of basics – could you tell us where you are from, how long you have been dancing tango and how you came to be teaching tango in Birmingham? Loyd: We’re both from the south of France and have moved here 7 years ago. We started tango about 5 and half years ago in Birmingham. We started teaching after only a year of tango as this was the only way we could raise enough founds to bring professional teachers to our club. Our first intention was not to teach, but to build up a tango scene at Birmingham, but we ended up liking it! Al: And could you tell us a bit about the people who have been important to your development and how they have influenced the way you dance. Loyd: The two key couples are our first teachers, our current one, and obviously Giraldo. We started dancing with Juan Manuel Acosta and Kicca Tomassi when they were based in the UK. We were very lucky to start with them!!! There was something about them when they danced - gracefull, and they gave us the virus of tango! They were the ones who made us completely addicted to tango, and made us travel across the world to take classes.Then Juan Manuel moved to Buenos Aires to start the fantastic career we all know about, and Kicca came to teach with Giraldo in our club. He introduced us to a style that was more appealing to us, close embrace, small but effective steps, posture… And that helped us a lot. We still take classes with him, he’s great and we recommend him to all of our students!
“bad copies” of amazing teachers. Al: Could you also explain a little about your approach to decoration, and the difference between leading decorations / inviting decorations / finding the space (both physically and musically) for decorations? Loyd: With most followers, you need to invite them to do decorations by giving them time, space and most importantly with the music. I find that even when I dance with someone I don’t know; if she knows the music and you give enough time and space, decorations are obvious. With Sandra I need to indicate to her when not to do decorations! Seriously she is very fast, precise and musical so I do not have any problem with her, as one would say, she is a Ferrari! We hear the music most of the time the same way so it’s all in the embrace, giving her time or not. We insist a lot in our classes on decorations to demystify them… It’s good to start “playing” with your free leg / foot from beginner’s stage, this is technique and without technique, you cannot progress in tango! The first time the beginners see all the decorations you can do they are really scared, but with time they understand that this is nothing.
Al: A sense of ‘connection’ between partners seems essential for performance (and for dancing in a milonga). Would you say that dancers that convey a sense that ‘they mean it’, even just for the length of a song, overcome all discussions of style. Loyd: For me tango is all about connection. This is the one thing that takes the most amount of time to master. When I go to a Milonga and I watch people dance, the one I prefer most are the most connected ones, the ones from which you can say, it’s a chest with 4 legs! Performance is different. Most of people “prepare” their performance, so the connection is a different thing. I personally don’t like it too much, as I feel it’s more an exercise, rather than dancing and more boring to watch. It looks like the performers are not dancing, but repeating a learnt by heart sequence. I much prefer watching and doing improvised performance, because for me that is what Tango is. And for this, yes, you need a very good connection; otherwise it shows straight away in performance! Discussions of style are a different thing. Tango is connection, so the styles which have no, or poor, connection are not Tango…
3 years ago, we met Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Misse and we can say they have changed dramatically our vision and style of tango. They are the sort of teachers that can change the way you dance in 1 private lesson. For example, 2 years ago we could not dance Milonga. Today we really enjoy dancing, and teaching Milonga… We have followed them around the globe and have become their friends now so they are extremely important for our dance. We need to stop talking about them otherwise I could fill a couple of issues of your magazine!
Al: Teaching seems to be a process of giving, or rather, ‘giving back‘– a returning of the favour for something learnt / knowledge gained etc., by passing it on to others. Could you tell us about what you get out of teaching?
Al: Your dancing seems to be characterized by elegance, subtlety, control and precision. Did you make a conscious decision to develop these specific aspects in your dancing? Loyd: Thank you, these are the characteristics of Javier and Andrea so we are quite pleased that you say that. Initially, we just wanted to enjoy dancing socially, even when the dance floor is completely crowded, and you think there’s no way you’ll be able to dance. This was the result of our first trip to Buenos Aires. So we started to concentrate in taking classes with only teachers who teach you useful things to dance socially. At the end of the day, most of the tango dancers will never be tango “show” dancers. And so that’s how we started to take classes with Javier and Andrea, but still doing regular classes with Giraldo, whenever we can go to Corrientes. We work hard to have our own style, but fully inspired by our teachers; we do not want to be
Loyd: No, when we perform, we improvise every thing so it’s like dancing in the Milonga but with nice clothes and on your own on the dance floor, with a lot of space! We have started preparing one choreographed piece, but more as an exercise to have more ideas of steps rather than doing them in a show. Anyway, this piece is only using Tango de Salon steps, and not any steps from tango show, because we do not particularly like tango show. We prepared it as we were invited to do a show in Bordeaux with Stefano Fava, and Juan Manuel Acosta. They really wanted us to dance one Pugliese number and on this occasion it was a show for non tango dancers, who most of the time enjoy the more really flashy things to Pugliese. Juan Manuel found it good, so we were quite pleased - this from a man dancing in Tango por dos and Tango Pasion!!! We still, however, did a completely improvised D’Arienzo, Milonguero style, as this is really what we enjoy the most. And the people really liked it!
Sandra: For me, decorations is my way to give my own interpretation of the music, how I feel the music at one particular moment. It is a way to dance not only through the leader music interpretation, which is not always the same as mine. It is a way to participate more to the dance and put your own spice in. Al: You have recently started to expand your performing career. Do you think that this will change the way you dance?
Loyd: A lot of work and reward! It’s great to teach because you need to be sure of what you are doing, what you are saying and most importantly what you are showing! So it makes you think more about your step, in essence it makes you work. The best reward for me is to see my students dancing around the country, and becoming tango addicts, to pass the virus onto other people! You know in Birmingham, it’s very hard to find places to dance You don’t get a lot of tango like in London. So to get people addicted to tango and travel to London for an evening to dance is an achievement on its own! The best reward we had? The followers who come to see me in London after they have danced with my students and tell me how good of a job we did… Or Andrea who saw some our students at a tango festival and said they dance well. Al: Gallo Ciego, your Tango Club in Birmingham, has now been going five years, could you tell us about the celebrations you have planned?
Loyd: Ah, that’s going to be amazing. We have managed to get Javier and Andrea, our teachers, to come for the weekend to our club, along with DJ Damian Boggio, the premier tango DJ in Buenos Aires - and this for his first visit to the UK! Javier and Andrea are only teaching 4 weeks this year outside Argentina, and have accepted to come to our club for one of their dates. Since we started tango, it has always been our dream to have them coming to our small club at Birmingham. You cannot imagine what this represents for us. It has been really hard preparation work. We had the dates, the theme workshops, back in March this year. We had to keep it secret until mid June: this is how long it took us to find a way to get work permits. It was a very difficult process and we have been helped in this by DanceXchange who are part of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Without them, there would be no way Javier, Andrea, and Damian would be there. So we can really give them a big Thank You. The workshops have been booked up for a while now, but the Milongas of Friday the 2nd and Saturday the 3rd (open till 3am and with performance from Javier and Andrea) still have some tickets left! We have had interest and bookings from Europe as well, so we cannot wait. Al: It’s great to see that Javier and Andrea are coming to teach and perform. Will this be the first time that they have performed in the UK? Loyd: The first time they perform in the UK, yes. They gave classes 4 years ago at Tango In Action (this was by the way our first classes with them, and how we met them) but did not perform, so it’s even more of a surprise that they will do for us! Al: I’m sure that it will be a great success. Ok, I think that Ella also has a few questions: The400club Ella: Which are your favorite Milongas in Buenos Aires? Loyd: El Beso is our second house, we are there 2 to 3 nights a week, we find it so great, music is amazing, crowded, but dancing Milonguero means that space is not a problem! Of course we really like Sunderland (most of the dancers there are all amazing), and Salon Canning. We quite liked Sin Rumbo (La Catedral), even if this milonga is far from the center (Villa Urquiza) it is worth the taxi journey! El: And who’s shoes do you like the most? Sandra: I only wear Comme Il Faut shoes. I’ve tried some shoes from other shops (including from ballroom shops: when I started, it was impossible to get any Comme Il Faut shoes in the UK), but all of them hurts my feet: the ball and the arch Loyd: I only wear NeoTango shoes, even though for training, I like FabioShoes. Al: Finally, would you like to name your favorite Manzi track for us. Loyd: Sur, done by Troilo is quite inspiring, and La Esquina as well, incredible. El and Al: Thanks and see you soon - if not at Corrientes, then in Birmingham in October. Loyd: Can’t wait to see all those people from London travelling to Birmingham – that’ll be first and we’ll make sure you are well received!
THE 400 CLUB Issue 3 - Campo Afuera
Recollections of the South
Tango Is Poetry Homero Manzi (part 1)
Michael Lavocah, tango dj par excellance and proprietor of milonga.co.uk, the one and only place for your tango music advice and purchasing, writes for The400Club about the recordings of ‘some classics songs penned by the poet and lyricist, homero Manzi: Tango has produced some lyricists whose greatness has elevated their work to the level of poetry. Some years ago, El Bandoneón produced a set of 4 CDs, each dedicated to one of the genre’s outstanding lyricists. The men they chose were: Celedinio Flores, Enrique Cadícamo, Enrique Santos Discépolo and Homero Manzi.
Homero Manzi (part 2)
Thomas Keenes tells The400Club more about the life and work of Homero Manzi: Like tango itself, Homero Nicolás Manzione Prestera, known as Homero Manzi and nicknamed Barbeta (‘beardy’), was born of a marriage across the River Plate: his mother was from Uruguay, his father an Italian immigrant to Argentina. Homero’s father was a farmer in the small town of Añatuya, 500 miles north of Buenos Aires in the flat and arid province of Santiago del Estero, where Homero was born on 1st November 1907, the sixth of eight children.
Like any great artist, Manzi not only articulated what he saw, but developed his images over time. Tango lyrics describe the emotional landscape of a city that, although nostalgic, is moving forwards even as it looks backward. An outstanding example would be the vals Romance de barrio (A neighbourhood romance), composed in 1947 with his lifelong friend Aníbal Troilo, in which the broken couple finally stop blaming one another. With Troilo’s recording sounds fresh and exciting today, one can only wonder what sort of impression it made over 60 years ago. Sur (1948) is another Manzi/Troilo collaboration, but although danceable it’s almost too good to play at the milonga, where to be honest most dancers and even some DJs have difficulty listening to the subtlety and beauty of Troilo, at least after the 1941 sides with Fiorentino. Troilo’s 1948 recording of Sur with Edmundo Rivero is a masterpiece: when the main theme returns, singer and orchestra whisper to you with great tenderness and intimacy. Given the level of chatter at many milongas, this is not an easy track for most DJs to play, so don’t expect to hear it at the milonga anytime soon. Going back slowly in time, we find the wonderful Fuimos, written in 1945 and recorded by Pugliese with Chanel in 1946, and then Después, written in 1944, and recorded amongst others by Troilo. This is a tango that really deserves to be played more. Not long ago I spent an afternoon with a friend putting together tandas of Troilo with Marino, and we were quite happy with the results. Go for it DJs! Wind back the clock a few more years to 1942 and you find Manzi’s classic Malena. When Lucio Demare received the lyric, he was so moved that he sat down (at a café) and wrote the music in fifteen minutes. Of the many versions recorded over the years, it’s hard to beat Demare’s own with the exquisite Juan Carlos Miranda on vocals. Everyone likes a good story, and Argentines have always wondered who the “real” Malena was. Perhaps it was Malena de Toledo, singer with the legendary Vardaro-Pugliese sextet, but it’s more realistic to think that the lyric wasn’t written about a single woman. Whatever the truth, it’s one of the outstanding tangos, and still chosen regularly by modern singers, especially women.
Going back further still we reach the time of Manzi’s co-operation with Sebastian Piana, which produced Milonga sentimental, the first milonga porteña, back in 1932 (this term distinguishes the music from the milonga campera, or country milonga, which was the only milonga up until this time). Rosita Quiroga asked for the composition, but turned it down. Doh! I think that Mercedes Simone was the first to record it, and her version is a true milonga (Adolfo Carabelli records it as a tango!), but it was not until the following February that Canaro records the piece. Ever the opportunist, we can only speculate that it was Canaro who actually moved the genre to the ballroom. Milonga sentimental is still a popular and living number: Otros Aires’s version on their first CD in 2005 is the standout track of the album. Manzi died young, aged just 44, but his memory is preserved by the huge number of people who know and love his music First amongst them was Aníbal Troilo, who was heartbroken by Manzi’s death. Late one night Troilo was at home playing bacarat with friends when a mood overcame him. Leaving the table and going to his room, he picked up his bandoneón and began to play, and Responso – his tribute to his friend - emerged. This remarkable elegy was a huge hit with the public, but although Troilo later named it his favorite composition, alongside Sur, he hated to perform it because of the emotions it stirred inside him. For this reason he rarely included it in his programme, but nevertheless, he was often obliged to play it as an encore. I don’t know whether people danced to this back in 1951. It was one of the pieces Troilo selected in 1963 for his first stereo LP, Troilo for Export, which is still in print on CD. It’s a track that gives you goosebumps. Michael Lavocah wwww.milonga.co.uk
Whilst still a child - the exact date is disputed - the family moved to Buenos Aires where Homero went to school in the barrio (neighbourhood) of Pompeya, at the time a thinly-populated suburb on the southern edge of the city, notorious for its poverty and high crime rate. The childhood landmarks of Pompeya and neighbouring barrios were later to feature in the lyrics that Manzi wrote for tangos, most notably in the famous ‘Sur’ (South). An elder brother, Luis, was one of the first people to spot Homero’s gift with words and encouraged him to write, and it was while he was still at school that Homero wrote his first poems.
Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays: Saturdays:
San Juan y Boedo antiguo, y todo el cielo, Pompeya y más allá la inundación. Tu melena de novia en el recuerdo y tu nombre florando en el adiós. La esquina del herrero, barro y pampa, tu casa, tu vereda y el zanjón, y un perfume de yuyos y de alfalfa que me llena de nuevo el corazón. Sur, paredón y después... Sur, una luz de almacén... Ya nunca me verás como me vieras, recostado en la vidriera y esperándote. Ya nunca alumbraré con las estrellas nuestra marcha sin querellas por las noches de Pompeya... Las calles y las lunas suburbanas, y mi amor y tu ventana todo ha muerto, ya lo sé... San Juan y Boedo antiguo, cielo perdido, Pompeya y al llegar al terraplén, tus veinte años temblando de cariño bajo el beso que entonces te robé. Nostalgias de las cosas que han pasado, arena que la vida se llevó pesadumbre de barrios que han cambiado y amargura del sueño que murió.
As a teenager, Homero befriended several other young writers seeking to revive literature and bring to it their sensitivity to social and national issues. Together they formed the Boedo group, named after the barrio in which they gathered. It was at this time that he also met the poet and playwright José González Castillo (1885 -1937) under whose influence Homero began to explore a connection between poetry and popular music. At 17 Homero became interested in politics, an interest that deepened when at 19 he began studying at law school. In 1930, after the military coup that overthrew president Hipólito Yrigoyen, Homero led an occupation of the school in protest, which resulted in his expulsion. Further political action came in 1935, when Homero was a founder member of FORJA - Fuerza de Orientación Radical de la Joven Argentina (Force of Radical Orientation of the Young Argentina), a political movement whose position has been described as ‘peoples’ nationalism’. After a period working in journalism and teaching as a professor of literature and Spanish - a post from which he was sacked due to his political views Homero decided to dedicate himself to the arts. In 1934 he founded Micrófono (‘Microphone’) magazine, publishing articles on radio and the Argentine film industry, an industry in which he also participated by writing screenplays and even directing a couple of films. He also worked in theatre sporadically. It was in 1934 that he shortened his surname to Manzi and it is under this name that we remember him today for the lyrics that he wrote for tangos, milongas and valses. The vals ‘¿Por qué no me besas?’ (‘Why Don’t You Kiss Me?’, 1921) was one of his first lyrics, written when Manzi was 14 and first recorded by the singer Ignacio Corsini (1891-1967) in 1926. His co-writer for this song was the bandoneónista (bandoneón player) Francisco Caso (1898 - 1945), who years later would introduce Manzi to the great bandoneónista and bandleader Aníbal Troilo (1914 - 1975). This would result in an extraordinary songwriting partnership. Troilo and Manzi wrote several hits together, including ‘Barrio de tango’ (1942), ‘Romance de barrio’ (1947), ‘Che, bandoneón’ (1950), and ‘Discepolín’ (a tribute to fellow lyricist Enrique Santos Discépolo, 1951), but none achieved the universal recognition of ‘Sur’ (1948), which can perhaps be regarded as Manzi’s defining work.
Gladrags and Handbags:
Todo Trajeado Great news, style fans! Ella Sharp has set up set up a new facebook group featuring her tango clothes and other hot fashion tips. The group, called ‘Todo Trajeado’ (which roughly translates as ‘Dressed to Kill’) will have details of the her new tango range, current bargain sales of clothes from her main collection, and news of things in the pipeline.
Her beautiful clothes are made with the tango dancer in mind - whether for performance, for the milonga, or just for fun. Contact: ellasharp@esharpstyle. co.uk, or check out the group on facebook.
A day of rest! Dance Tango at Vino Latinos, Langham Court. Hotel W1 Abrazos, Vauxhall, SW8 Zero hour at The Dome, Tufnel Park N19 Tangology at Sway, HolbornWC2 Rojo y Negro at Latvian House, Queensway W2 Outdoor Tango at Spitalfields E1 (last Thursday of the month) Negracha at The Wild Court, Holborn WC2 Carablanca at Conway Hall WC1 Midnight Milonga at The Tango Club, Covent Garden WC1 Corrientes Social Club at Haverstock School, Chalk Farm NW1 (two Saturdays a month) Dance Tango or El Once at The Crypt, St. James Church, Clerkenwell EC1 (alternate Saturdays) Milonga Sur at The Old Whitgiftians, Croyden (once a month) Tango Tea at the Tango Club, Covent Garden, WC2 (first Saturday of the month) El Portenito at The Bedford, Balham SW12 (every other week) Tangology at Sway, Holdorn WC2 Tango at 33 Portland Place, W1 Tango South London at The Costitutional Club, Dulwich (last Sunday of the month).
Especiales... (up and coming ‘one off’ events we’ve heard about)
2-4 October: Gallo Ciego Tango Club 5th Anniversary, Birmingham B12 ODG 13-15 November: 5th London International Tango Festival at Las Estrellas, Bayswater W2 1-19 October: Adrian and Amanda Costa Workshops, many locations throughout London
please ALWAYS check dates and times with organisers BEFORE making plans.
Pompeya, located directly to the South; the blacksmith on the corner of Centenera and Tabaré streets (other locations have been suggested); the flood, mud, pampa, herbs and alfalfa all refer to the fact that the area was prone to flooding - the barrio had only begun to be called Pompeya from 1900 after Capuchin priests had consecrated a chapel there to the Virgin of Rosario de Pompeya, before which the area had been known as los pagos del Riachuelo (‘the surroundings of the River Riachuelo’); the wall refers to the outside of a tannery along which Homero walked on his way to school. ‘Sur’ was first recorded by Troilo’s orchestra with vocals by Edmundo Rivero (1911-1986) on 23rd February 1948. It is a tango classic that has been covered many times since by singers such as Julio Sosa, Nelly Omar, Roberto Goyeneche, and more recently Susanna Rinaldi and Adriana Varela. (Several versions of the song - including the original Troilo/ Rivero recording - can be found online at Spotify, last.fm and YouTube) The early death of Manzi, who succumbed to cancer three years later on 3rd May 1951 at the age of just 43 was mourned by Troilo in his intrumental tango ‘Responso’ (1951). Manzi was survived by his son Ancho, a pianist and composer (1933 - ), from his marriage to Casilda Iñíguez. Homero Manzi co-wrote many other famous tangos, milongas and valses with other composers, in all a total of around 130 songs. He had a longstanding and successful partnership with the pianist Sebastián Piana (1903 - 1994), who he met when they were both teenagers. Piana and Manzi were particularly significant for the stylistic evolution of milonga, helping to popularise it in the 1930s (in part a reaction against the prevalent mood of sadness in the tango canon) and effectively defining the genre as we know it today: just two of their many works are ‘Milonga triste’ (1929) and ‘Milonga sentimental’ (1932). Other notable Manzi songs include: ‘Mano blanca’ (1939, with music by Antonio de Bassi); ‘Malena’ (1942, Lucio Demare); ‘Oro y plata’ (1943, Charlo); and ‘Desde el alma’ (1948, new lyrics to a vals by Rosita Melo originally composed in 1911). Nostalgia and longing are common themes in Manzi’s lyrics. He describes people and places with tenderness and sympathy, and though he wrote for a porteño audience, unlike many of his contemporaries he never used lunfardo (the street slang of Buenos Aires) in order to make his words immediately accessible and universally relevant.
The corner of old San Juan and Boedo, and all the sky, Pompeya and further down, the flood. Your long hair in my memory and your name floating in farewell. The blacksmith’s corner, mud and grassy plain, your house, your path and the ditch, and a perfume of herbs and alfalfa which fills my heart once again. South, a sturdy wall and then... South, a light from a general store... You’ll never see me again as you saw me then, leaning against the shop window waiting for you. And the stars will never again shine on our peaceful strolls in the Pompeya nights... The suburban streets and moons, and my love at your window, all has died, oh, I know it. The corner of old San Juan and Boedo, lost sky, Pompeya, and arriving at the railway embankment, you at twenty, trembling with affection under the kiss I stole from you then. Nostalgia for the things that have passed, sand that life has swept away, sorrow for neighbourhoods that have changed, and bitterness for a dream that has died. Among the places and features mentioned in the lyrics are: the crossroads of San Juan and Boedo avenues at the centre of Boedo;
Whilst still in his twenties, Homero Manzi had explained his preference for popular music over esoteric literary pursuits in the following way: “Tengo por delante dos caminos: hacerme hombre de letras o hacer letras para los hombres”: Literally, “I have two paths ahead: to make myself a man of letters or to make letters for men”. Or, one might say “to become a man of letters or to write words for the people”. He published no books of poetry, but his words are still alive in milongas and enjoyed by people all around the world today. Thomas Keenes
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY... A close relative (mum’s the word eh?) of The400Club writes about the pressures of trying to live with the Tango in the family... Is there anyone else out there who has an Argentinean Tango addict in the family? If you have, the following symptoms will be familiar: 1. Tango music played constantly, on c.d, i-pod, vinyl and even mobile ring tone, which to the uninitiated all sounds the same. Dum dee dum dum. 2. Conversation liberally scattered with incomprehensible words all ending in o, orilllero, apilado, Nuevo, paso basico, abrazo, gaucho (?) to name the more pronounceable ones. It seems you can be a milonguero and also perform a milonga, but don’t assume the bolero is for wearing.
Milongas Regulares... (a non-comprehensive list) Mondays: Tuesdays:
‘Sur’ is an elegy rooted in the mundane landmarks that map the poor southern barrios of Buenos Aires. It evokes the memories of a youthful affair, the passing of time and the changes in the city, acknowledging the inevitability of impermanence in everything:
3. The urge to dance at the first notes of any tango music where ever it is played. A bargain book store recently made the mistake of having tango music as musac and it was only by great coercion that a performance punctuated by many adornos was prevented. The youngster behind the till was totally confused when given the third degree about the music, she obviously had no idea what a tango was, lovely girl. 4. The need to convert all unbelievers by showing them what they are missing, family Christmas can be a minefield for this. However much furniture is moved back, Great Uncle Harry is never quite nimble enough to avoid a potentially damaging and highly embarrassing flick kick. Grandma after two sherries and a glass of white wine is only too eager to demonstrate the tango she did in the days of many petticoated skirts and stiletto heels, while non tango addicts of all ages cower in corners pretending they are not there.
And Finally... The 400 Club is an irregularly produced, amateur 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. The next issue 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:
5. Arrangements to visit family and friends in the wilds north of the M25 are timed to coincide with Tango events which will be enthusiastically attended regardless of whether they are held at a swish hotel or village church hall where the floor slopes with the prevailing wind. Maybe those of us who have loved ones involved in this highly addictive pastime can encourage them to form a T.A. group, where they will stand up with both feet firmly on the floor and say, my name is Joe Bloggs and I am a Tangoholic. And there is probably one man who can be blamed for this sorry business..., yes, do not come back Rudolf Valentino, all is NOT forgiven. Jackie Mitchell Favorite Manzi track: Que?