Here I go again, complaining. Two consecutive posts neutral in tone are enough to tone it down! Coming back to the same old topic of crap "DJing"...
Last week, I ran into a local organizer at a milonga. He remarked that I didn't go to his milonga. I paused for a second, meditating the consequences of my crude honesty. I thought to myself, someone's got to say something, might as well be me. I told him that it was nothing personal, but that frankly, the music was awful. His reaction seemed to be a combination of mild amusement with a bit of offense taken. With a nervous laugh, he got a little defensive saying something along the lines of the crowd of the milonga not being demanding because they don't know the music. True, his classes are comprised of mostly younger people, the majority of them just beginning. I am not claiming to be a music connoisseur, but for me this is just a cop out. It's akin to parents feeding their newborn just McDonalds' and TacoBell's, their excuse being that a baby doesn't know good food, so it shouldn't matter. But the real reason is that they can't be bothered to feed and properly nourish their child, much like this organizer can't be bothered to actually sit down and make a proper playlist.
My main complaint is that there was way too much so called alternative. It is called alternative because it is something, as its name vaguely hints, that should be played as an alternative, sparingly, if at all. When I walked in this milonga a few weeks ago, there was some 'alternative' playing. I don't even know if it was Gotan Project, Electrocutango, Bajofondo, or whatever. It all sounds the same to me. I thought to myself, "good, hopefully the tanda will be over by the time I put on my shoes, and there will be no more of this crap music the rest of the evening". How wrong I was... The usual accepted DJ playlist tanda format is TTVTTM, short for tango-tango-vals-tango-tango-milonga, but the format used in this milonga was CCCTCCC, short for crap-crap-crap-tango-crap-crap-crap, crap meaning either an electrotango/nuevo tanda or a very badly constructed tanda.
I understand why people relate more to electrotango/alternative music, especially outside of Spanish speaking countries. Firstly, it is music from another time, and oh how times have changed (I guess). Secondly, there is the language barrier that makes it difficult, albeit not impossible, for people to understand the music. As much as I'd like to be a dictator and just impose what I consider to be good music on these people, I realize they can just choose to leave. So the compromise would be to play these tandas alternatively - meaning very sparingly - just to appease the unenlightened. Then as people gradually gain appreciation of the good music from the Golden Age, these electrotango/alternative can be phased out.
My grief with electrotango/alternative is that these cease to be tango for me. Just because some lounge music has a bandoneon playing here and there with chill out ambient music on the background definitely doesn't make it tango. It's because these kinds of organizers play this music so much that people come to expect it to be played much even in proper circumstances. Whenever I am DJing and am asked to play some nuevo, I chuckle contemptuously and tell them to go to a lounge bar. Seriously, they play that kind of music! And it fits the atmosphere much better than a milonga. Even worse yet, the way I see some people dance to this cortina music makes me want to snap in uncontrollable rage. I don't know what they're dancing to; it looks like a hybrid of ballroom with bachata with some other shit... but certainly no tango... please make it stop! My eyes are burning!
To elaborate on the badly constructed tanda, it is a grave insult to D'Arienzo if you mix one of his best milonga songs like La Cicatriz, for example, with two other milongas that are not so good from a contemporary orchestra. Of course, I have nothing against contemporary orchestras. In fact, given the opportunity, I'd like to form one, and it's something I intend to do in the next few years (stay tuned! Not for a living, obviously). But it still forms part of alternative music for milongas. I guess it's acceptable to play a Sexteto Milonguero tanda every once in a while, but don't mix it with D'Arienzo! You just don't do it... It's like wearing a black belt and brown shoes. Or wearing suspenders with a belt. Or wearing a hat or a cap to a milonga. Don't do it, dammit!