Tag Archives: milonga

Featured Orchestras – An Explanation of what this means at our Milongas.

At the Lewes and Tango Revolution Milongas I will each month be featuring an orchestra. As this sounds a bit academic – and it isn’t at all –  I wanted to briefly explain this.

Although I play music that often extends past the golden age – because I love to dance to that full orchestral sound and because there is so much amazing music into the 50’s and even beyond – apart from that I am in so many ways a traditionalist.

 I follow the time honoured rules – such as always playing at least one Tanda – and almost always more – from each of the big 4 ( D’Arienzo, Troilo, Pugliese and  Di Sarli). I follow the established format of TTVTTM. I don’t play Nuevo. Our Milongas are inclusive – welcoming to all, and encourage the Cabaceo. 

What the featured orchestra means is simply that I will play two Tango tandas within the 4 hours from that Orchestra. I will chose tandas that show the different sides of their work – because to me that is the interesting part.

A featured orchestra will always be outside of the classic top orchestras –  because they will often already be repeated in a 4 hour Milonga – out of respect and more importantly because their music is amazing.

I will normally be illustrating different singers or different decades. If they are strong in Milonga or Vals I may also play one of their tandas in that genre. But only if it is truly great to dance to – the dancers mean everything to me.

Please don’t worry if you are not yet that concerned with the music! There are over 20 tandas in a 4 hour Milonga – you won’t notice and please just enjoy the dance, the Cava, the cake –  and the company of your friends.

But if you are interested in learning more about the music – just watch the heads up display – and there will always be a post before the event announcing who the featured orchestra is this month – presenting a side from each of the tandas and adding a bit more context for you.

I hope you enjoy this approach. Increasing our understanding of the music improves our dancing and our respect for the amazing musicians who made this whole thing possible.

It adds so much to our amazing tango world.

Pugliese : Pata Ancha


So I disappear down another rabbit hole.

Breathlessly pursuing Borges, Pugliese and the Spanish Language through echoing caverns of meaning and history.

I think as native English speaking Tango students – when there is a lyric – we at least stand a chance. We can google, find someone else’s talented work in translation. Learn from it. Add to this over time.

It may be poetic, it may have a lot of Lunfardo – but we can normally get the essence, and maybe that helps us to interpret better.

But when as dancers we are responding to something as dramatic as the more passionate Pugliese instrumentals we can feel lost. There is just nothing individual to hang onto. Yes ‘Pata Ancha’ has the classic Yumba sound from the first moments – that signature marcato that might bring to mind the heartbeat of the city, or the metalworkers in the factory – but we need more.

So google will tell you that Pata Ancha means – ‘wide leg’.

Well that’s good – it doesn’t mean some kind of fish pate then. But what on earth .. Sex? Solidity? Strength? The brutality of ugliness?

No. But of course this is pointing us towards the answer. It is at least a start.

I am in such very severe danger of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing – and I do welcome help from anyone – please – but  Martín Fierro (El Gaucho) is an epic poem by the Argentine writer José Hernández. Published in two parts n the 1870s.

And in this poem is ( the first? Most relevant?) mention of a colloquial meaning of the phrase ‘Pata Ancha’ – “Dealing with anger to any danger”.

Echoes of the meaning of “Mandria’ – ( D’Arienzo ) – not just as worthless – but as the way Gauchos used to knife fight each other – not to the death but until one of them was facially scarred and so was worthless to a woman.

And so it comes back again to the Gaucho roots of Milonga / Tango – of course Gauchos wore wide pants.

They  were passionate, rural and proud – they in many ways defined their lives in harsh terms – wanting to die proud – to respond by putting themselves on the line.

And it is this essence of the early Milonga that as I understand it Borges wanted to get back to. He resented the loss of the guitar, the introduction of romanticism, Lunfardo and even vocals at all. To him the essence was the Pampa, the space, the freedom and a man finding himself.

And at this point I am just going to stop and refer anyone interested to a really worthwhile, fascinating and academic reference ( also attached so hopefully one will work  borges-milonga ) that Borges and Pugliese led me to as I chased them down a rabbit hole, about 4 hours ago. And I am still falling.. and falling.