Alaina’s Argentine Playlist


Disclaimer: Do you really think I own this music?

photo by zabaraorg (flickr)

photo by zabaraorg (flickr)

This dance suits me.  It’s passionate and dramatic.  In its embrace, I can afford to the barriers down and lose myself in the music.  There’s nothing like Tango Argentino.  Unfortunately, I’m not that experienced.  Tommy and I don’t practice it often because he wants to focus on my competitive dances.  Yeah, I haven’t danced it socially either, maybe someday…  Anyway, this has been my dance of choice musically for a while.  It ignites my energy and reveals a wholly different side of my personality.  I’ve written about Tango Argentino before, but my knowledge has increased.  Thus, I would love to share this dance with you again.

Let’s get the preliminary stuff out of the way.  First, all forms of tango originated in Argentina.  (Interestingly, the latter derives its name from the silver prospectors hoped to find there.)  Let me differentiate between Ballroom Tango and Tango Argentino.  You’ll only find the former in association with, well, ballroom.  You’re probably not going to dance it socially unless it’s a ballroom social.  That leaves Tango Argentino.  Go to any club that plays tangoes, and it’ll be TA.  It’s fitting because Ballroom Tango is competitive and rigid.  That’s great for impressing the judges and showing off all your hard work.  TA is much more relaxed and its very much like you’re hugging the other person.  With that said, it’s time to resume the storytelling.  And I actually feel like a story-teller, so I’ll be using italics:

This dance was born in the shadowy back-alleys of the Argentinian suburbs.  Night has fallen and while plenty of businesses operate during the day, darkness provides a sense of security for those that seek this particular service.  A lone building stands tucked away in the otherwise empty street.  Lit only by the light streaming from its windows, the building serves as a beacon for the customers. The patrons scurry about quickly, trying to enter the edifice before their rivals can.  It’s every man for himself.  The door slowly opens, revealing a dimly lit atrium.  The room is bustling with activity and sounds of a bandoneón permeate the smoky atmosphere.  The atrium is filled with men from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes.  Some sit at the dingy tables provided.  They are browsing.  Others have already engaged the women, taking their hand for a dance and shamelessly flirting with each other.  Fights break out occasionally between two customers or even groups, but they are quickly silenced by the imposing master dressed in a sharp suit.  Finally, those already paired up quickly melt into the murk.  They have business to attend…

Yes, TA was birthed in the bordellos, and the dance itself was a means of selection.  The men would dance with the women they wanted.  I need not elaborate on what they did after the flirting was done.  (Here’s an amusing tangent: Tommy was trying to explain the story but was having trouble coming up with an appropriate euphemism on-the-spot: “Then, they went upstairs and did, um…”  A student proclaims, tongue-in-cheek, “They did their laundry!”  That made everyone chuckle.)  The leg action you may see when they dance TA is called “flirtation”.  There’s much drama to be had!  Now, let’s move on to the music.  Many tangos have the following tempo: slow-slow-quick-quick-slow.  You can also spell out its name to this rhythm, which is how I was taught.  However, the free-spirited TA does not follow a beat.  The dancers follow the music.  That means that you should pick out orchestral tangos, or ones that don’t have a definite beat.

“Assassin’s Tango” by John Powell

“Epoca (La Revancha del Tango)” by the Gotan Project

“La Tropilla de la Zurda” by Carlos Libedinsky

“Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla

“Otra Luna” by Carlos Libedinsky (This one is just beautiful!)

“Peligro” by the Gotan Project

“Querer” from Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria

“Tango del Atardecer” by Lalo Schifrin

“Una Música Brutal” by the Gotan Project

“Vuelvo al Sur” by the Gotan Project

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