Friday, October 30, 2009
Many of Sydney's tango dancers were looking forward to the new El Regente milonga to be run by Jairo and Amy of Tangueros, so there was an audible sigh of disappointment last night at the Copacabana milonga when it was announced that El Regente milonga had been cancelled 'due to a council decision'. This milonga was to run just once a month on Fridays and into the early morning. Jairo (who was my teacher for a number of years) has a reputation as a great DJ as well as being one of Sydney's leading dancers with his partner Amy, so it is sad that they too have been the victims of bureaucracy - and at such short notice.
As well tonight, Friday 30th, is the last night of Tango Pasion's milonga at the Hakoah Club in Bondi. This milonga has run weekly on Friday nights for about 5 years and has a group of dedicated followers who love the music selections of DJ, El Portenito. Tango Pasion are forced to move on because the Hakoah Club has been sold to developers and according to this morning's Sydney Morning Herald, will become a hotel and shopping centre. The club has yet to find new premises and meanwhile Anna and Martin of Tango Pasion must look for another dance floor in the Eastern Suburbs.
The administrators of venues are notorious for shutting down milongas - and often at short notice. As many know we organise a milonga once a month and have been at our Gladesville venue for a year now (anniversary milonga coming up). However before that we moved three or four times in an effort to find a venue that would accommodate us. We now pay almost 3 times what we paid elsewhere for the venue but this seems to be the only way to be sure that as a milonga organiser you won't be gazumped by another event.
Council regulations are a minefield. The NSW Government, obviously under pressure, announced last Friday (Oct 23) that they would relax the regulations for their POPE! (Place of Public Entertainment) licences for live music. Their intention (probably too late for many) is to allow venues to host live bands without having to file development applications. But this is not the only regulation that causes trouble as Tangueros have just experienced. Local residents are the biggest kill-joys of the lot. The other Friday night venue for milongas which has been going for around 10 years is the Glebe milonga run by Club de Tango. They now close just before midnight because of complaints from local residents.
What Sydney really needs is a tango venue that is owned by a tango organisation and run as a business with all the appropriate licences, much like there is in Melbourne with Sidewalk Tango, Viva and Robles. When this happens, as it surely will, then Sydney dancers will have a more stable tango calendar.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
On the weekend I ran a very successful milonga (thanks to all those who came and made it a great night) with lots of new music and some happy punters; and also went to Mimi's Pink Tango night at the Artarmon Freeway Hotel enjoying a night of fundraising for breast cancer. I spent today in 1914 because I am immersing myself in history again for a new book. (I am a writer in my non-tango life). Today I was in Paris in 1914. Tango was the dance in that year, it was considered outrageous as couples had to dance in an embrace, and the height of fashion - it was the beginning of Tangomania. This was not the focus of my research but you can't avoid if it comes up and you are fascinated by tango.
War would break out in Europe on July 28 of that year. The shooting of the Austro Hungarian archduke in Sarajevo, Bosnia would set of a chain of events around Europe that would eventually see much of France destroyed - tango was not on the agenda.
However before this awful conflict there was a sense of euphoria. Charlie Chaplin made his 6th movie 'Tango Tangles'in which he did not have his usual moustache, did not dance the tango (as far as I can tell without actually watching the movie) and played the protagonist. Clearly he called it Tango Tangles because tango was the fashion.
Tango Teas began at London's Waldorf Hotel - after dying off in the 1970s these have recently been reinstated but without tango as the focus and I have yet to speak to anyone who has been (note in diary for next visit to London)...
Orange was the colour of tango (not red and black!) and tango merchandise -shoes, dresses, head pieces, gloves, fans... were all the rage.
Tango had moved up market and though it would take a back seat for four or five years it would reappear in the dance halls and salons of the 1920s.