Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Sequence

When I need to prepare a milonga quickly, this is what I do ... and this is the order I do it in ... it's an efficient morphogenesis ... the unfolding of the evening's structure. You don't need to do things in this order. But it might be worth trying this, if you think you have trouble in building coherent evenings.

1. Cortinas

I pick out two dozen cortinas for the evening, often from one or two albums, of the same musical genre. This adds unity to the evening. Then I put a line of stars in the comments section so they act as markers between tandas (sets) ... "cortina lines" which need to be filled with dance songs.

2. T-T-V-T-T-M

Except for some adjustments towards the end of an evening, I stick to the Tango-Tango-Vals-Tango-Tango-Milonga Tanda structure.

3. Starting Tango Tandas

I almost always pick the two Tango tandas that start the evening first. They need to be good, be fun for both the advanced dancers and the completely beginners, who stay on the floor after the introduction lesson.

4. Valses

Waltzes are quite a bit more scarce than tangos, so I find the Valse sets I'd like to play that evening, hoping to keep it exciting, while still playing favorites.

5. Milongas

Good Milongas are a bit more plentiful, thanks to a few hard workers like Canaro. I construct a few slow-to-fast Milonga tandas, and put them in their place in the evening's structure.

6. Tangos: moods and hits

Figure out how you'd like the mood to shift over the evening. Peppy to moody to tragic to nutty? Build tandas to fit the mood, or use tandas that you like and have set aside, including variants, as playlists you can just pull it.

While doing that, make sure that you make your more experienced dancers happy by providing songs they know. Tango hits.

7. Energy

Typically, you want to move from slow to fevered over the first two hours, with a few tandas here and there that step back before pushing faster, harder, tougher. But make sure there IS an overall energy, an overall flow threading its way through your songs. It seems incoherent to dancers if you play something slow, then something loud, then something quiet, then something far out. Use gradients instead, in all the dimensions you can think of.

8. Good endings

There are lots of ways to wind up. It depends somewhat on your crowd, but of course a truly amazing final tanda and song really make that possible. It's pretty common to put a La Cumparsita at the end of the last Tanda, without a cortina. If you do this, you need to cultivate your favorite Cumparsita's, and construct great Tandas that work well leading into that version.


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5:24 AM  
Blogger Chris, UK said...

I am baffled by this talk of structure, mood shift, gradients etc. Is it a US thing?? I do not hear this stuff from my favourite DJs in BA and Europe.

As for endings, what makes the DJ think it is he that ends everyone's evening? Each dancer's evening ends at whatever time he decides to leave. The only one sure to leave after the last tandas is the DJ himself...

10:18 AM  

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