Sep 012015
 

My first big Milonga idea grew up in 2007, when I saw an announcement for a theater performance in an empty indoor swimming pool. I knew this former public pool from my youth, when I still was swimming there. I phoned the new owner Mrs. Berger and made an appointment to talk about the Milonga idea. During our meeting one of dancing partners tried with me dancing together in the pool.

Because I’ve never been a Tango DJ before I invited the two guest DJ’s, Lothar Staudacher and Astrid Weiske to support me. For informatiion about live musicians I asked a dancing partner, who teaches music. She recommended me Judith Brandenburg (Bandoneon) and Diego Rial (Guitar). In the evening of the Milonga, when the musicians arrived, they had the great idea, to play in the middle of the empty pool-ground, so the dancers surrounded them. The sound was very good, like in an ancient Greek theater. This evening we had 150 guests, which was really much, for my first Milonga.

We repeated this event each year in May, because it had to be warm enough without a heating. We called it “StattBadTango”. It’s a little word game, which could mean “instead-of bath-Tango” or “urban-bath-Tango”. Later on the pool owner had a little cafe near to the pool surrounding. I asked her for a regular Milonga there. At first she refused it. Later on, when I made some flyers for a Milonga in another cafe, and dropped them during StattBadTango, she accepted the idea. So had my first regular Milonga every fortnight on a Sunday afternoon. I did the Milonga and StattBadTango until 2012, when the owner gave up, because we didn’t have enough guests.

Now I have monthly 3 regular Milongas in different places in Berlin, organize some flashmob Milongas outside with PVC-foil on the ground and sometimes visit other cities as a guest DJ with Milongas from 50 to 200 guests.

Die Wurzeln means the roots of the tree. Roots means something where you come from, something where your origin might be, or your initiation. In the beginning when I was dancing Tango at Bailongo, with Udo Hartman, I wanted to dance Tango because I heard of Tango. I never knew anything about it. I heard Tango music and I was doing the steps. And I thought it was melancholic, terrible. Then he played Milonga and I thought “hey I like that it’s cool, it’s like dancing in a village.” And Vals is like Viennese Vals which I knew from ballroom. That gave me the connection, it was not only the Tango.

When I was not dancing Tango I was dancing Salsa in a small bar. There was someone who had a dance floor outside and there was music playing, and this music was “In The Death Car” by Iggy Pop from the film Arizona Dream. And I liked it so much that I went to ask “what are you doing here?” “We are doing Tango.” I didn’t have a dancing partner, so I didn’t stay there. (Dance partners were really a problem in Berlin. We didn’t have the idea to go to a Milonga and change partners.) That was the initiation for me of Nontango. I still play this song at Milongas.

I was learning traditional Tango but I like other music. And so I might do traditional steps on Neo-music, or Nontango music.

A bit about the beginning of Tango in Berlin.

There were some people organizing private dancing parties, very small, 5 couples or so. Later these events were called Milongas. Sometimes Jörg Buntenbach had a Milonga in Kreuzberg where he mixed with more modern things, not Tango. I don’t know what exactly, other music, world music.

Teachers gave only little bits of their secrets in this time. They told only a little thing. People were interested here. They disliked if a student was was studying in two dancing schools, There was someone who gave away more, that was Mauricio Castro. For this the Argentineans didn’t like him, because he gave it away. He was writing about systems how to learn Tango, how to give a structure to it. A structure in the way that you don’t have ready steps. The idea was to teach improvisation. They all hated him for doing this. I had one workshop with Castro in Hamburg. He gives the opportunity to do things where you think you are not able to do them. A friend of mine, Lothar Staudacher was teaching at Neue Nationalgalerie. (He started in 1982, or 1985. I studied with him maybe in 2002.) I was participating and he was doing dancing games. He put balloons on a line. The follower had to close the eyes. You have to make a linear voleo to kick a baloon. The higher the balloon, the higher the linear voleo.

Lothar plays bandoneon but doesn’t dance any more. What Lother did is he had met an old tanguero who had the diary of Petroleo. From this information Lothar wrote a Boletin Del Tango. He was speaking about theory of steps and these things. He made it every quarter up to 60 of these magazines. Lothar was hated for publishing these things, by Juan Dietrich Lange and others. I don’t know why.

jens-stullerI like Tango and I once was doing a greater milonga, and later I had the interest to do little milongas. I did it in a space that is full with four couples. In this moment it was just the topic to enjoy this In a little space to dance. Tango is the way to give the most freedom for improvisation, I’m just part of a whole world of dancers. I’m just a little part. I do these flashmob milongas. I put foil on the ground, take a box, and I’m happy if people are coming and enjoying this.

Berlin is a city where most people don’t have much money. To live if you don’t have much money, you have to be creative. You wouldn’t go to Buenos Aires tomorrow, or to America or Moscow or where you want to go. So you have to settle in your world in a way. To adapt to what you have. People can do a lot with creativity, spirit. The traditions are not so important. I like to see sometimes parts of it. Where people did nice orchestrating, or maybe also nice dancing. But I don’t want to copy anything. My aim is to have new ideas, new influences. Buenos Aires is far away and it’s nice if people have a connection to the music. I think that could be enough. When I see someone who does something that looks or feels good, like someone dancing milonga in a way I like, and there’s a link to Buenos Aires, then I would need it. I like to have people who enjoy this power I am giving in the dance floor, and are giving this back. If it has a connection to Buenos Aires that’s nice, if it doesn’t it’s nice also. I don’t look for “The Real Tango”. If people come to my Milonga and dance Cha-Cha-Cha, because the rhythm is Cha-Cha it’s ok for me.

I'd love to dance with you

photo Ilsa Hellman

I want you to know that you're not alone....

... neither in your dreams for tango nor in your frustrations.

My deepest desire is the same as all my students and friends ... those who have yet to start dancing and those who dance a lot.

It's partnership.

One thing I've learned on this quest, we need to:

Stop Waiting for Partners, and start
Building them

I've written a 10-step action guide. Are you ready to find the Partners you want?

 1 September 2015