Greetings from Tallinn Estonia! I arrived yesterday for the first night of the Viejo Tallinn Tango Marathon and will be playing here on Sunday. Last weekend I was attending the Tango Devoradores Marathon in Wroclaw Poland as a dancer only. I have never been to that many marathons and it's interesting to see these two marathons back to back both as a dancer and a DJ. The scale of the events is very different as the Wroclaw marathon had close to 350 dancers and 13 (!) DJ's, while the Tallinn marathon has about 150 dancers and 5 DJ's. In Wroclaw there were the pre- and afterparties and DJ's were playing only 4 hour sets but in Tallinn I fortunately get to play 6 hours, which I think is the perfect lenght for a DJ set.
There's also another very fundamental difference in the two marathons: The style of music. While in Wroclaw I had to wait for DJ number 7 Mik Avramenko from Ukraine to get a great set of traditional tangos centered around the likes of Troilo, Di Sarli and D'Arienzo - In Tallinn the event kicked off with classic tangos from both the first two DJ's Andrea Dedo from Italy and James Bates from Belgium and I'm expecting the same to continue.
I don't want to be a tango police here and commit a career suicide but I will share my view on the matter and it's something I've discussed with many other DJ's coming from a more traditional stance on tango music. There's nothing wrong with the occasional special selection and the Donatos and Lomutos etc. But many DJ's go so far into centering their set around the likes of Canaro, Donato, Rodriguez and some Guardia Vieja that the set feels out of balance and the occasional Troilo will not save the set for me. And it is not just that I don't get to hear my favorites but also the fact that the general mood and dynamics of the songs from these orchestras is so different that I feel like a lot of the passion that should be in the music is missing and instead all we're getting is at it's best nice and comfortable music for snuggling. I do want a lot more from my tango music. More edge, passion and yes even some drama. And yeah uptempo valses and milongas too. And then... I'm ready to snuggle also.
I know there's a theory that in order to keep people dancing all day and night long the music should be easier and smoother but I do not really believe in this. Of course you shouldn't play uptempo D'Arienzos etc the whole time but there's plenty of downtempo music with very strong qualities that are just as energetic as the best of D'Arienzo. I know I have issues and I want to dance to music first, friends and atmosphere second.
But then again.... the music has to be in relation to the audience as well. And no matter how much I did not enjoy everything played in the marathon, the majority of dancers did. The Wroclaw marathon was organized for the fifth time already and is probably known for a certain style which attracts certain dancers. In fact it was the very special basically alternative selections that received applauses from the audience. And again I have no problem with this. To each their own. It just shows how many types of dancers and events there are. And don't get me wrong... the Wroclaw marathon had great dancing and very friendly atmosphere and I'd consider going again and would love to play there myself one day. I didn't of course hear full sets from all the DJ's but I did enjoy a lot for example Darko Vicentijevic from Serbia. He was mixing a lot of orchestras especially in vals tandas but also some tangos. And he did it really well and overall had high energy in the music and I feel he was an excellent choice to be the last DJ of Saturday night. I also enjoyed the afterparty DJ's Jakub Ciczkowski and Kasia Gabryluk from Poland a lot.
I do like the Marathon format a lot as well as the Encuentros. I just hope that there will be more events in both formats that will have the music... in the lack of better words.... a bit more edgy and less cuddly.
1. Francisco Rotundo / Enrique Campos, Floreal Ruíz - "El viejo vals" 1951
2. Alberto Mancione / Jorge Ledesma, Héctor Alvarado - "Un cielo para los dos" 1955
3. Héctor Varela / Argentino Ledesma, Rodolfo Lesica - "Igual que dos palomas" 1953
Now... I've prepared a few tandas for my special selections for this marathon and here's one of them. I do not know yet if I will play it but I've been listening to the tanda a lot and I like it. I recently found the song "El cielo para los dos" and wanted to create a tanda for it. I first heard a version by Lagrima Rios on the excellent "Cafe de los Maestros" tango documentary and the beautiful melody stuck to my memory. This version by the unknown orchestra of Alberto Mancione is quite excellent but not quite perfect. Still a great song in my opinion. I start the tanda with the well known "El viejo vals" by Rotundo and end it with Varela's "Igual que dos palomas". All of the songs have two singers which gives the songs nice energy also. When I have a long set I like to play one vals tanda from the 1950s and this might be the one on Sunday. I hope you enjoy it.
EDIT: I had "Un cielo para los dos" as the last song originally but when I played this is Tallinn I chose to have it as the second song and finish with the vals of Varela, which I thought of as being more clear and danceable and giving the dancer a nicer way to finish the tanda.
The cortina is dedicated to my friends and the tango community in Skopje, Macedonia.