20 November 2022

Local is international

One thing I had to see was tango in BA and Mono, our bass mate, was playing just that the next day.  This was a performance venue rather than a Milonga dance-cum-school so we had a band, dancers and singers: a veritable story-telling, all singing, all dancing show.  The club was Cátulo Tango.  We were told it's a traditional venue, frequented by locals.  A decent space, plenty of set tables with red tablecloths matched by red uniforms of staff.  A big raised stage in the centre as well as a curtained band stage nearby.  We all arrived at 7pm for seats and to start the pics and eating, then show at 8 running on to 10, then again that community mingling after.  Plenty of talk which we didn't get, of course, some jokes, introductions to composers and themes.  And always that intense, intimate music.  The band was violin, guitar, bandoneon, bass with solos and moving features.  The guitar sounding sharp and acoustic like classical; the violin all phrases and rhythmically places notes and tones and squeaks and slides and taps, like the bass, rich in effects to spell the accents.  Sometimes playing as feature, sometimes backing dancers or singers.  We didn't catch the lyrics, of course, but you could feel the overt passion, as clearly also the dancers.  We think of love and sex and the themes of tango and they are there, but there are also amusements and playfulness, as in two women dancing with one man, or the simple joy of dancing of two women together or the overt sexual rivalry of two men at one time.  We'd been told this was a classy night.  The dancers (three women, two men) included three internationals, one a world champion form Holland, no less.  And again the interactions with audience to announce birthdays and to welcome a famed tango composer.  And ultimately, an end with Piazzola Libertango and all manner of community pics and chatter for the next half hour or so.   For this is something I enjoyed immensely, how everyone would congregate after, chatting, laughing, meeting, selfy-ing.  Like at our jazz the night before.  So a fascinating and unique and relevant local experience that nonetheless expressed a very international style, tango, known by many, not least the jazz scene.  But the real thing was different from the jazz interpretation that I know; more intense, more immediate, deeply sensual.  A wonderful find.  Thanks to Mono for the invitation to this one.

The tango performance was at band was at Cátulo Tango in Buenos Aires.  The band comprised Estebon Morgado (guitar), Quique Condomi (violin), Augustin Gil (bandoneon) and Mono  Hurtado (bass).  The singers were Leandro Ponte and Rosana Fontan (vocals).  The dancers were Maricel Giacomini, Katherine Laytón, Guillermina van der Linden, C Jose Carlos and Romero Vedia (Carlinho).

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