THANK YOU so much for experimenting with Owen and me in honor of our birthdays and one year of Jewel Lab.
The response to the Jewel Lab music survey indicated that people are keen to dance to live music, and to non-traditional tango, and last night was our first attempt to do both of those things at once. I am thrilled that so many people opened their tango to this possibility.
But it sure was an experiment. And I learned a lot. I try to debrief everything, and I do it by analyzing what rocked, what rattled, and then make notes about what to change for next time.

What rocked

  • Everyone’s enthusiasm for letting new music into their tango.
  • DIY Cannoli was lots of fun. You all ate 2kg of ricotta! Thanks to Owen for this brilliant suggestion.
  • Hotel Colombian found us some more water pitchers!
  • Andrew and Miles on the door, Elly on the camera, Owen’s fabulous tracks, and Nick as always everywhere I can’t be.
  • I had an excuse to dress up.

What rattled

Personally, I was disappointed in the music, and I blame myself entirely. I didn’t understand that Fernando has a diverse repertoire and I needed to be specific about my experience of his music when we first danced to him at a bar. On that night he was playing blues and soul, no Brazilian music. It was much slower and had more complex and interesting layers. I didn’t spend enough time communicating with him about what I wanted in the music. During the sound check, he played Ray Ray, which was exactly the kind of music I had in mind. Then suddenly during the performance, there was all this Brazilian music. I don’t think everyone agrees with me, but I found the Brazilian rhythms very uninteresting to dance tango to.

Another problem was that I asked Fernando how long his songs were so that I could plan the evening and he said they’d be 4 minutes. Based on that information, 4-song tandas made sense. But in truth many of his songs ran up 8-9 minutes, which is ok, but 2-song tandas would have been better in that case. At our briefing last night, he reiterated the songs would be 4 minutes, but he must just have no idea how long he is playing. Which is entirely reasonable, but didn’t work for us. So this is something I will have to flag when working with musicians in the future.

For me and Owen for the other leaders I’ve talked to, it was very painful to witness and participate in the fact that so many of our follower friends didn’t get to dance very much. I had a rare night of following. And although the leaders present made a valiant effort to get to everyone, it was impossible.

It was striking to notice that so many more followers are keen for alternative music than leaders.

What to change

  • I need to learn the correct terminology to talk to musicians about the kind of music that will work for tango.
  • I need to help musicians understand that length of the song matters, like, a lot.
  • I want to learn about what is going on with gender numbers and see what I can do. I promise that this will be a priority in the next few months.

Once again, thank you for being that big, bright, multi-faceted jewel that you are.