DJs

Good quality tango music is at the heart of tango. Tango in the Spring has always focused on excellent, mostly Golden Age, tango music at all our milongas and the practicas and we will continue this tradition in 2018. 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: Pat Petronio (Fri), Jarny Choi (Sat afternoon), Fabian Conca (Sat night), Mohamed Ibrahim (Sun) and Yuko Kinoshita (Mon).

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.

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 quickly developed a love of traditional tango music – “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, Erwin Quispe Zapata and Mario Orlando. So much can be learned from them about the art of DJing.” She’s been dancing tango since 1999, so her choice of music when DJing is influenced by the mood of the milonga, the feeling of the music and her own preferences as a social dancer.

Apart from arranging music at Comme il faut, her 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?

I see my job as kick-starting Tango in the Spring. Dancers will be arriving on Friday evening with lots of energy and high expectations for a great weekend of tango. Based on that context, I’ll prepare a degustation of Golden Age treats, peppered with a few surprises to keep people on their toes.

What is your favourite piece by Calo at the moment?

There are several very beautiful tangos and valses interpreted by Miguel Caló’s orquesta in the 1940s: Jamas retornaras, Dos fracasos, Tristezas de la Calle Corrientes, El vals soñador, etc. But one of my favourite Caló tangos sung by the great Alberto Podestá was recorded as late as 1963! It’s the intense Que falta que me hacés.

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 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, I’ll focus on music that inspires us to move and have fun.

What is your favourite Biagi piece at the moment?

Probably El Yaguaron. So many chances during the piece to mark its staccato rhythm! I promise to play it this year.

Fabian Conca – Saturday night

Fabian Conca is a well-known and respected DJ in the Sydney tango community, and has been playing music for the famous Milonga “Tango Entre Amigos” since 2001, as well making appearances as a guest DJ in many milongas and festivals in Australia and abroad. Fabian has a very defined style, with a combination of a well balanced selection of rhythmic and melodic tunes from the 1920’s, through the Golden Age of Tango till the present – a mix of music for all tastes that would guarantee to keep you dancing all night long.

What do you like about DJing?

To see people smiling at the end of a tanda.

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

To me it all depends on how I feel on the moment and I prepare my list that way, then during the night I may change depending on the mood of the dancers.

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

Last year we were teaching at a festival in Shanghai China and I had been asked to DJ at the last milonga. At the end of the night I got a huge reception from all the dancers and they kept on clapping for quite a while. They really appreciated my DJing and that made me feel very happy.

How has your DJing changed over the years?

I think that I focus a bit more on the “cortinas” – something that I learned from other DJs, it helps to create the mood.

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

As I said in the previous question it all depends on the moment. Generally my style of DJing is from the early orquestras from the 1920’s to the the latest of the 50’s – which one I’ll play on the day will depend on the moment.

What is your favourite piece by Tanturi at the moment?

Very hard to say, to me Tanturi is the perfect Orquestra, but if I have to choose one, by the lyrics and the memories that brings to me will be Y siempre igual.

Mohamed Ibrahim – Sunday night

Mohamed 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 from 2015-2018, Byron Bay tango festival 2017, Pablito’s festival 2017 -2018 and numerous interstate milongas such as The Czech Club and Sidewalk Tango in Melbourne. He started DJing way before tango – with genres not very close to tango such as house and trance music.

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?

As usual, I don’t prepare a playlist and I would rather play on the go. Now that this is my second time in TISP, I have more of an idea about the dynamic of Sunday night so that would help in a way – to have an imagination of how the night would go.

What is your favourite piece by Troilo at the moment?

It seems there is no escape from this question :). Well I have been more lately listening to Troilo’s recordings with Raul Beron, which are not often for dancing like ‘De vuelta al bulin’ and the relatively more popular ‘Mensaje’.

Yuko Kinoshita – Monday afternoon

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, Hobart Tango Encuentro, 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.

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 in Canberra any more, and now I can play Pugliese quite happily. 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. My gig is the last one, so I can switch off my organiser brain and just relax. So that would be a big relief!

What is your favourite D’Agostino piece at the moment?

Ah, D’Agostino y Vargas. So subtle and beautiful. It’s hard to pick one, but I’d say Llora vida mía would be the one at the moment.