4 jun 2008

Tonight I have dj duties at Cellspace and I still have no idea of what to play for the "alternative" portions of my sets. I sat in front of my computer with the intention of cobbling together a few possible tandas but instead I am procrastinating by writing this. Course, if I had my druthers it would be golden age through and through, but the Cellspace milonga being what it is there is an obligation to be true to the character of the venue.

Alternative tandas, at least for me, are so much more difficult to construct well than traditionals. The great orchestras have pretty much done all the work for us djs. "Alternative," however, particularly as it is defined by the Cellspace people, is like a crapshoot. You can go somewhat safe and play tango-based music, like tango electrónico or Cáceres, but Cellspace expects at least some music that is completely non-tango related. This gives the dj a ton of freedom but in a way it's this very freedom that is problematic. Too many options.

Now, I am of the Napster generation (back when Napster was cool), which is to say I have a taste for a pretty broad spectrum of music, although I will admit I have fallen decidedly behind on what is popular nowadays and have been thusly clueless for years now. So chances are pretty good that any tanda I put together will be unfamiliar to the majority of dancers, and their reaction to what I play simply cannot be anticipated. Part of the problem is that while I am familiar with the music and I know how I would interpret it via tango-esque dancing--

Aside: Currently, I don't consider dancing tango movements to non-tango music as legitimately "tango," which is not to invalidate it as a form of expression nor to imply that it is somehow inferior, but merely to emphasize my belief that the music is the primary defining characteristic of tango, and the dance can be considered "tango" only as a physical counterpart to that specific music.

--those who have never heard the music before may not be able to discern the patterns and the tapestry which I found to be conducive to tango-esque movements, and thereby find themselves completely lost. I have certainly found myself in this predicament as a dj more than once. Also, oftentimes a piece of music can drastically change quality based on the system it is played on and the space it is played in, so something that sounds reasonably tango-able on headphones can sound completely antithetical in a dance hall.

As of right now I don't have many ideas. Luckily, I've found the Cellspace crowd to be exceptionally open-minded, and in worse case scenarios, very forgiving. Plus, I have faith that my co-dj will have an ample supply of non-traditionals to keep the folks happy.


tangobaby said...

Hi Malevito,

I'm sorry that I will miss your dj-ing tonight, especially given how much thought and effort you put into your music and the arrangements.

I had never thought of Caceres as somewhat alternative. I guess because I love it so much, I just lump it in with my tango favorites.

For my very limited experience in dancing at Cellspace, the only time the music trips me up (in the non-traditional fashion) is when it's very slow. For some reason, if it's not a slow tango, I lose my sense of the dance and where I am in it.

I hope you have fun tonight. Play some Caceres anyway.

Malevito said...

Hi TB, how are you?

Well, maybe I'll see you the next time I'm up; usually I rotate every month and a half to two months or so. Also, I'm considering taking up more dj duties here and there to get more established. David and Mariana, for one, seem to be open to me playing the Late Shift sometime.

Got through tonight okay, no Cáceres, though. I'll post in detail later.

It's understandable that you may find yourself lost in very slow music, but part of that could very well be the lead. And also, it could have just been a poor selection by the dj. But in general, of course, dancing with extreme slowness is probably the most difficult thing in tango, especially for followers since they need to use a lot of active resistance to stay connected.

Anyway, I just got back and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open at the mo. Will grab a quick bite, then to bed. Good night...