Sunday, January 7, 2018

The good old days

Happy 2018 record breaking freezing temperatures!

We're entering our 15th year dancing tango!  This qualifies us to reminisce about the "good old days" and "way back when" of Toronto Tango like a couple of annoying old fogeys:

1.   When we started Tango, there were only a few milongas each week and on any given night, there would only be one milonga and not two or three competing ones and the whole of Toronto Tango would crowd into at that one event to kick each other in the shins.

Now there are plenty of milongas to choose from and milongas are less crowded, even deserted in some cases.  If you want a good shin kicking you have to choose to go to a milonga that has a super small space to dancer ratio, or super aggressive dancers, or both.

2.  Tango instructors would go to milongas of other tango instructors to dance with and try to steal students using their superior dance skills and/or smooth talking. People used to get pretty worked up and angry about student poaching!

Unfortunately this doesn't work very much any more, everyone has seen better dancing on Youtube and no-one is impressed by anyone's dancing or talking. 

3.  There wasn't a lot of tango information available back then.  Youtube did not exist and video footage of tango was limited to copies of Tango Shows and things that people copied off "Solo Tango" TV channel in Buenos Aires.  We were once given a videotape with snippets of choreographed pieces that were "dubbed" with tango music on top and the action had no relation to the soundtrack.  No wonder a lot of people danced like they couldn't hear the music!  That was what they saw on video and in shows and that was what their instructors saw too.

Now there really isn't any excuse because Youtube has lots of examples of great dancing to the music.  Dancers on the whole are better but strangely, some people still dance like they are deaf and they aren't even from those way back when days.

4.   You used to be able to get whole sets of video instruction from famous Argentinian tango dancers.  There was the "Asi se baila el Tango" by Mora Godoy and Osvaldo Zotto, "Asi se baila Milonga" by Pepito Avellaneda, "Asi baila Cayengue" by Martha Anton and Luis Grodona, "Un Tal Gavito" by Carlos Gavito and Marcela Duran, "Tango Estilo del Centro" by Daniel Lapadula and the Bridge to Tango series featuring old time dancers like Rodolfo and Maria Cieri, Petaca, Manolo El Gallego, Juan Bruno, Pupi Castello etc.

Getting the videos was not easy, you had to find trusted websites to order from or get them from stores in Buenos Aires either directly or from friends who were traveling there. The production values and the content on the videos were quite good.  A lot of thought and planning went into most of the videos in presenting a whole and complete - and unique - "systems" of dancing of the featured dancers.

I don't believe that instructors are producing these kinds of videos any more, it isn't worth it people can easily rip out footage and post on Youtube and no-one pays for any copyright.  Besides, search for any kind of step or movement you want to learn on Youtube and you will get hundreds of search results, who would bother paying now when you can get it for free?

5.  Back then, people used to travel a lot more to Buenos Aires and even planned to move and live there.

I don't think people are doing this as much any more.  Maybe it has become too expensive.  Or we are talking to people from the good old days more than people who started dancing recently.  The good old days people have seen the good old days of Tango in the 90's and early to mid 2000's in BAs and the Tango scene has changed so much since then   Most of the fantastic older dancers have died and a lot of the milonga venues have closed.

When we first went to Buenos Aires in 2007 there were some really good, interesting, unique dancers to watch on the dance floor and milongas that we would look forward to going.  It's not the same.  Things just don't seem to be as much fun. 

6.  There used to be only a handful of Tango Blogs and Tango websites.  Then there was an explosion of Tango Blogs.  In fact, at one time, we used to have like five or six regularly updated blogs by Toronto dancers.

Now, who even blogs anymore?  Are they Facebooking Tango blogging?  Or What'sapping Tango blogging?  Or Tweeting Tango Blogging?  Help me out here, I'm an technology ignorant old Tango fogey and I don't know what I'm talking about.

7. People used to be more excited about visiting Tango instructors.  Now they come so frequently and dance so much alike.

People used to care about the annual Tango Mundial thingy too.  Now we don't even remember who won...the last ten times.  Meh x Infinity.

8.  Remember we said New Tango is dead?  Yes, we were right!  Back then a whole bunch of people danced it recklessly on crowded floors to look cutting edge and cool.

If someone dances it now in the milonga, not only does it not look new, it looks anachronistic.*

* "WTF Irene, you are still talking about this?" asked Man Yung.  "That is so passé no one even talks about this anymore!"

If you feel like it, there's more old fogey reminiscing here.


tangogeoff said...

Great post, Irene, from another old fogey 😊

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Tangogeoff,

Happy New Year! Wishing you all the best in 2018 and many wonderful tangos.

Irene and Man Yung

Iain said...

I've noticed the same thing about The Decline of the Golden Age of Tango Blogging. There just don't seem to be very many tango blogs now, very few new ones appear and the old ones rarely post... There are still some lively discussions on facebook though - check out the Tango Reformation Party or The Tango Social Revolutiion (sic).

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Iain,

Thanks for the information on the discussions on Facebook! I knew people were still talking somewhere :-)

Irene and Man Yung

Alberto Dassieu


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