My first experience of TangoLoft made me cry. I couldn’t even dance that night. I was so moved that a milonga could be everything that I dream of… Elegant – with candles and flowers and antique furniture. Comfortable – with various seating options. Gourmet –with a kitchen. Free – without scowling onlookers. Happy –with laughter and smiles. Diverse –with all kinds of dancers and music. Wow.
I begged Henning for an interview.
What are you doing here with TangoLoft?
“Fourteen years ago, I danced a lot in Berlin. The milongas became bigger than when I started, which was twenty-four years ago. When I started, they were more intimate, everyone knew everyone, sometimes in a house. Berlin during that time had empty houses. You met somewhere, brought things, and had a good time. As the scene got big, the milongas got more professional. They would rent big rooms, and the rooms are not made for a milonga the way I felt when it started. Something was missing in these events rooms. It was a very cool situation. When it’s late or early in the night, it’s not cozy.
I thought this is not how I want to spend the next 10-20 years.
While I was missing this, the alternative tango comes up, Gotan, Bajofondo… I liked the music and I wanted to learn it and dance to it. But the milongas were strongly traditional.
Also all the clubs were smoking at that time.
During that time I changed my life. I was a teacher of music and German, and I thought something should change. So I moved into a loft with a space big enough to be creative. So I started to make pictures, installations, things I wanted to do. And use the room to meet friends and dance a little bit. People said “Let’s meet regularly, it’s a nice place.” Why not? Let’s try. Not too many will come, so let’s make it public. That was 12 years ago November.
This development had some years before started to create itself. I brought the possibility that it could become material. This idea wants to be born. It starts suddenly, so fast. A lot of people start to like it. I bought a piano. I made the art installations with the milonga for one year.
After one year I had to move to a bigger place and the idea runs over me and I must follow. I needed to move a second time. It was so big. I must go for the atmosphere in a professional way. How can we create the space? We put in a kitchen, toilets, walls. We try to make it like a living room, a private atmosphere. Now it’s very big. The music develops. I play not so much modern music, now it’s 1/2 and 1/2.
During that time other milongas started to play modern music. The last 5 years now the trend is more traditional, but I still continue what I like, which is mixing of music, and with this I mix the people too. You can meet people here from every part of the scene except the hardcore. People come for the atmosphere and the mixing situation.
I try that everybody who comes in feels he is welcome. Everyone finds a space, finds their music, create with my and Mona’s power that you are welcome. Einshtelag. You need to feel it. You create a space with your thoughts or with your feelings. First I thought I must concentrate on this to see Buddha in everybody, but then I realized I don’t need to work on it. I find it in myslf. I am in this way. I open the door. The first guest comes, and I don’t need to do anything. To want to make the atmosphere, you must make it in yourself.”
What’s the future tango you want?
“I don’t want to create anything. I feel tango is a living scene.
I do tango for 25 years. In this 25 years, dancing styles change, dogmas change, music changes. I’m in the river. I do my things. Where the people are coming laughing, when they feel good I continue my things.
Sometimes I wish the role of women would be more active. There was a time when the women take care of leading also, but it’s complicated. You can only create it when the scene is very old. It’s a very developed women’s role.
What I want to ask is that people wish more to dance to live music and pay for that. Because I like to dance to live music, when you can let the music flow through you, then you really want live music, because you take the power from the musicians.”
Why no cortinas?
“I don’t want to stop dancing.”