DJs

Below is the DJs page from the last Tango in the Spring in 2016. We will update this soon.

Good quality tango music is at the heart of tango. Tango in the Spring 2016 will have excellent, mostly Golden Age, tango music at all our milongas and the practica. We’ve invited tango DJs from around the country, who will create their individual mixes of the tango music you love, to make each event unique. We have confirmed Pat PetronioJarny Choi, Yuko Kinoshita, Mohamed Ibrahim and Jamie Gifford.

They will craft nights to remember: from the sparse rhythms of early Canaro, the odd syncopations of Biagi, the smooth but powerful di Sarli tangos, the driving valses of Laurenz, though to the dramatic orchestrations of Pugliese – everything from the “Golden Age” of tango music – plus a few selected from more recent recordings and some from the vault.  At the practica, we will select tango music in a good mix to make your practice fun and musical.

We will also have a special DJ forum on Saturday morning for all tango music enthusiasts to come and learn more about the art of being a tango DJ.

Many thanks to all our DJs for being part of Tango in the Spring!

Pat Petronio – Friday night

Pat has been DJing since about 2000, starting in the early days of tango in Adelaide. She says that in the first few years she incorporated lots of non-tango music, including electronica, but hasn’t done so for a long time now – “There’s so much fantastic Golden Age tango music to lure you onto the dance-floor! Tango DJ heroes are Dany Borelli, Carlos Rey, Viví La Falce and Mario Orlando. So much can be learned from them about the art of DJing.”

Apart from arranging music at regular milongas in Adelaide, Pat has DJed at Sydney Tango Festivals, Czech House (Melbourne), Festival City Tango (Adelaide), BASH (Bundanoon) and Tango in the Spring. A huge part of the fun for her is catering for different groups and seeing their response to her selections.

What do you like about DJing?

Despite the amount of time involved in the selection of music suitable for a milonga and the preparation of possible tandas, I never get sick of listening to the music. I love creating tandas which flow well and transport dancers with their partner of choice.

How do you decide which music to play (or not) at a given moment when you DJ?

Although very familiar with my music, I always prepare a playlist based on what I know about the event. My advance selections are aimed at taking the dancers on an emotional journey, with lots of twists and turns.

The success of a milonga depends a lot on the music, so I don’t like leaving things to chance. I enter the milonga with a ‘draft’ playlist which I’m confident would work well. But, during the course of the event I also make changes to my playlist. For example, if I sense that dancers are not responding to a tanda, I’ll change it; or if the dance-floor is becoming too frenetic, I’ll choose a calming tanda, just to mention a couple of reasons.

Can you describe some standout moments of DJing, either your own or while listening to someone else DJ?

When a DJ really nails it with just the perfect tanda to suit a particular point of the milonga, leaving dancers returning to their seats with a sense of joy and satisfaction.

How has your DJing changed over the years?

I’ve become more intuitive. My selections rely on how the music makes me feel as a dancer.
As well as playing well-known Golden Oldies (which are called that for good reason), I love including the occasional neglected treasure, just to tickle your fancy. Cortinas are getting a bit more attention, too.

Do you already have some plan of how you might approach your DJing session at this year’s Tango in the Spring?

Since I have the responsibility for the Opening Milonga, I intend to kick-start Tango in the Spring with a broad range of Golden Age treats, leaving people wanting more. It will be a taster for the rest of the weekend.

What is your favourite piece at the moment? why?

One of my long-time favourites is Lo pasao pasó interpreted by Carlos Di Sarli with Roberto Rufino. Its sense of urgency and melancholy make me want to dance to it every time.

Jarny Choi – Saturday afternoon

Jarny has extensive experience in tango, especially in Melbourne where he was a teacher and an organiser of practicas and milongas for many years – helping to start up the Czech Club milonga back in 2008 for example. Nowadays he enjoys dancing socially and occasionally DJing at various milongas.

Jarny’s choice of music while DJing is mainly motivated by the simple question: “How does it feel when dancing to this piece?” He uses the varieties inherent in the golden age tango music to give the dancers a range of possible interpretations and responses, while striving towards the heightened sense of connection that most dancers seek.

What do you like about DJing?

I enjoy the sense of influence my choice of music has on the way the milonga pans out.

How do you decide which music to play (or not) at a given moment when you DJ?

I tend to believe that there are probably a number of suitable songs to play at a given moment in a milonga, which of course is completely unique to that situation. So I simply ask myself if the song I’m about to play would come from such a set – it’s not very satisfying to think afterwards that there were a dozen better songs that I could have played but didn’t.

Can you describe some standout moments of DJing, either your own or while listening to someone else DJ?

Ultimately there are many things beyond your control as a DJ, so it’s very satisfying when somehow everything falls into place and you sense great energy throughout a milonga. My last DJing at Tango in the Spring in 2012 felt like one of those nights.

How has your DJing changed over the years?

With improved repertoire, I’ve been able to fine tune each tanda a lot more. Also, there are a number of quite famous songs I used to play a lot, but I hardly play them now – I find it difficult to find the right spots for them anymore because they can be overpowering.

Do you already have some plan of how you might approach your DJing session at this year’s Tango in the Spring?

Since I’m DJing at the practica this time, I’ll focus on music that inspires us to move and have fun.

What is your favourite piece at the moment? why?

Hard to say, but I’m still addicted to La Capilla Blanca by Di Sarli.

Yuko Kinoshita – Saturday night

For Yuko, Argentine Tango is a social dance. “Tango is to connect with your partner, fellow dancers on the floor, and the music – not to show off or impress anyone.” And this principle dictates what she does as a DJ and an organiser.

Yuko is one of the founders and organisers of Tango in the Spring. She is also a co-organiser and the resident DJ at the “El Boliche” Monday night milonguita in Canberra. She has DJed at BASH (Buenos Aires in the Southern Highlands), Port Macquarie Tango Festival, and the Czech House Milonga in Melbourne, and at Canberra milongas organized by Tango Social Club of Canberra and Las Vacas Locas. Her musical preference is solidly in the 1930s and 40s, with sprinkles of 1920s gems.

What do you like about DJing?

The thing I love most about DJing is the musical journey that I have with the dancers. As a DJ, I get to play the role of the expedition leader for the night. I can take people with me to all sorts of different places, but I must first observe who is there, how people are dancing, and what the mood of the floor is. I DJ every week at our little milonga “El Boliche”, but no night is the same. It’s very interesting, and the feeling that I get when the expedition ended well without losing too many people on the way is just exhilarating. DJing gives me a creative joy for sure, but also the joy of sharing – if that makes sense.

Also in my early days I developed my love for tango by dancing to carefully selected quality Golden Age music by the Canberra community’s house DJ, Tim. I had no appreciation of tango music initially, but his patience led me to a deep love for it. If I can do the same to someone else in my community, that’s super.

How do you decide which music to play (or not) at a given moment when you DJ?

It’s the vibe!

Well, I guess I should be more specific. The factors that I am constantly assessing in my mind include: how long is the milonga; which point of the night are we are in; my plan for the overall flow of the night; who is there; who else is likely to arrive a bit later; the gender balance; how well the ronda is flowing; how well people are dancing; and how well I am connecting with the floor (ie. whether people are responding to the selection of the music I made in the way I intended). Sometimes I have to consider physical factors like the size of the venue and the quality of the sound system and room acoustics too. The ‘vibe’ or emotional feel of the floor is the outcome of a complex mixture of those factors – anyway, that’s how I see it.

Can you describe some standout moments of DJing, either your own or while listening to someone else DJ?

I always enjoy listening and thinking about other people’s DJing – whether or not I like their DJing as a dancer (as a dancer I can get pretty grumpy if I don’t like the DJ.) My absolute favourite is Danny Borelli in BsAs. I can just sit there and listen to his music without dancing—although it’s hard to be sitting with his music selection!

My standout moments… well, each gig I do outside of my normal milonga is memorable in one way or another, because it challenges me more in assessing and adjusting to the dancers. A gig I did in Melbourne a few months ago was interesting. I did something I wouldn’t do elsewhere with the music selection, especially towards the end of the night. I took it to an emotional peak with Pugliese/Chanel, then pushed even further (but shifting direction from dramatic to melancholic) with Troilo/Ruiz. I was very well pleased that I managed to land it ok at the end of the night.

How has your DJing changed over the years?

Very much. I have been DJing for about 10 years on and off, so over that time my appreciation and knowledge of tango music has matured a bit, and the scene has changed too. For instance, in earlier days I hated playing Pugliese because it had a strange effect on people – making them do weird unmusical performative floor-unfriendly moves. This doesn’t happen much any more, and now I can play Pugliese quite happily – although I still don’t like the 50s ones all that much. Another thing is that I love pre-golden age music and I used to play it much more. But now I am much more conscious of the energy that music creates, and I play them much more sparingly.

Do you already have some plan of how you might approach your DJing session at this year’s Tango in the Spring?

Not really. But I know there will be many dancers, good happy festival energy, a beautiful venue and a good sound system. So it should be a fun gig – if I manage to switch off my organiser brain and focus on DJing. We have a good capable team and loads of volunteers, so I’m sure I can do that.

What is your favourite piece at the moment? why?

Even though I’m the one who included this question in the interview, boy this is a hard one. In 2012 I chose Recién by Tanturi with Enrique Campos, and in 2014 La noche que te fuiste by Troilo with Florial Ruiz. So maybe this year I will choose from some other orquestas. So, my pick this TISP: Tus Labios Me Diran by Biagi with Alberto Amor. I love Biagi with singers – it has Biagi’s Biaginess of intricate syncopated rhythms, but also has the smoothness and intense emotionality from the singer.

Mohamed Ibrahim – Sunday night

Mohamed is the resident DJ and cofounder of EL Once tango club 2015. He has DJed regularly in different Sydney milongas and events, such as Patio de Tango and Tango Synergy milongas. Some of the festivals and events he has DJed at include: BASH 2014-2013, NewZealand Tango Festival 2014, Port Macquarie Tango Festival 2015-2016, and numerous interstate milongas such as The Czech Club and Sidewalk Tango in Melbourne. He started DJing way before tango – surprisingly in house and trance music, but it all changed in 2010 when he discovered tango.

What do you like about DJing?

Being able to please people while having a good time.

How do you decide which music to play (or not) at a given moment when you DJ?

Depends on many factors including :
a) What time of the night it is (eg. not playing my most dramatic Pugliese in the early hours)
b) The tanda that played before and the tanda playing next in line with the mood/flow of the current ronda and the night as a whole (eg. A DJ sees dancers in a bliss after a Di Sarli /Podesta tanda then plays the most upbeat Donato – I don’t see that going very well 🙂 – there are exceptions of course)
c) Dancing level- As much as it is good to challenge dancers every now and then. It is always good to play tandas with distinguishable beats and rhythm especially with dancers who seem to struggle with expressing the music. Reading the dancers determines which direction to go with the music.
d) Type of event (Milonga, Encuentro, Marathon etc): In big events where a lot of dancers meet for the first time, I would stick to the popular hits and avoid going in experimental mood at all costs. A relatively small local weekly milonga with the right crowd may dealt with more adventurously.
e) Gut feeling . Even when following the rules, you may get many options to play from that would be theoretically OK, However there is that one tanda that if you play it at that moment would really stand out.

Can you describe some standout moments of DJing, either your own or while listening to someone else DJ?

I recall DJing for over 6 hours in a popular local Sydney milonga. The dancers stayed over 2 hours after the announced finish time. I was tying to get them off the floor by playing non tango music like hip hop, R&B and some oldies. That did not work either as they kept dancing. I was exhausted yet happy.

How has your DJing changed over the years?

In my 1st year DJing I was very focused on pre-planning a playlist with the cortinas that would cover the night as a whole. I would shuffle the tandas if needed with caution. As I got more experienced, I have put more to effort to enhance the quality of my tandas by rearranging songs and finding better quality versions from different sources. I have become less reserved in my approach with DJing with less time invested in pre-planning and more time observing the dancers then deciding what to play in real time.

Do you already have some plan of how you might approach your DJing session at this year’s Tango in the Spring?

Yes and no 😉

What is your favourite piece at the moment? why?

Not this question please. I have got heaps of favourite songs it is really hard to pick one.However I am very fond of Troilo though and I like most of his songs with Alberto Marino and Floreal Ruiz. The one that stands out as an all time favourite is ” Uno”. Troilo’s music was my least favourite when I started dancing, few years later, I can’t get enough listening to the same songs over and over. There is so much depth and emotion that does not compare to any other orchestra in my humble opinion.

Jamie Gifford – Monday afternoon

Jamie started his tango journey in Canberra in 2008, but really fell in love with tango and tango music during an extended stay in Buenos Aires over several years. It’s the music and character of the those downtown BsAs milongas which forms his “tango home”. He started DJing in Europe as a way of keeping his connection to Buenos Aires alive. Jamie now lives in Melbourne where he enjoys playing the music of the salons of Buenos Aires for the Melbourne crowd.

Jamie is fascinated by the immense variety of golden age tango, how each orchestra has its own unique flavour and how each dancer has their own response to the music that we all know and love. As a DJ, his hope is that the dancers will be able to leave the milonga with something that they did not have when they entered the hall!

What do you like about DJing?

I see that DJ is responsible for building the frame that contains and supports the dancers and the evening. But it has an alive quality: the dancers respond to the music and the DJ responds to the dancers. In many ways I see the interaction as similar to the interactions in the tango dance itself: the leader proposes a movement, the follower responds, and the leader follows the follower! So the DJing is a sort of dance itself and when it does well, it “rings” and it’s very satisfying.

How do you decide which music to play (or not) at a given moment when you DJ?

Well, there are a lot of factors. The biggest single one would be “where have we come from” and “where are we going”. I mean: the milonga has a sort of flow and so each tanda needs to fit into this flow. So it would be unlikely that I would play a series of light-hearted guardia vieja tandas and then suddenly put on a 1950’s Pugliese instrumental tanda, for instance!

Can you describe some standout moments of DJing, either your own or while listening to someone else DJ?

I guess the standout moments for me are when the music “rings” – it’s like a sort of resonance with the dancers and all of a sudden the milonga takes a step to othe next level! I have experienced this many times as a dancer in the hands of other excellent DJs, and also a few lucky times when I was DJing. Very nice!

How has your DJing changed over the years?

I guess the biggest change has been in the range of music that I consider playing.

One school of thought is that there is a fairly small primary “corpus” of tango dance music that should be consistently and repeatedly played at the milongas. The idea is that the music becomes so familiar that each piece starts to feel like an old friend and part of a common language that all tango dancers share.

Another school of thought is to play a wider range of music, so it’s less likely that dancers recognise the individual tracks but on the other hand there is more of an element of surprise and novelty.

Obviously it’s possible to combine these two schools of thought by playing a mix of well known and less well known pieces. The main change in my DJing over the years has been to become less strict about sticking to the first school.

Do you already have some plan of how you might approach your DJing session at this year’s Tango in the Spring?

Nope, not yet!

What is your favourite piece at the moment? why?

Hmmm, I don’t tend to think in terms of a “favourite piece”, so I don’t feel I can answer the question. If the point of the question is to try to find out what sort of music I like at the moment, then I can only answer: I will always come back to the music created by the great dance orchestras of the golden age (let’s say, 1935 – 1945).