Tango Argentino > Why do people give Nuevo Tango a hard time?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Juniper Ivy, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    I like Nuevo just as much as other forms of tango, but it seems that a lot of tango dancers love to complain about it. And nuevo tandas are usually played only once, late in the evening, if at all. I know many dancers really like nuevo. Why does nuevo create such a strong, polarized reaction?
  2. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I can speak to my own experience, then give a theory.

    A while ago I was asking the exact same question. I viewed the dancers who refused to dance during alt sets as snobby, pretentious. "What's wrong with alt sets?" I'd ask. "It's great music." I'd often wait for nuevo tandas to come on to ask my favorite follows. Then I started to learn to DJ, taking musicality classes, and just got heavily invested in learning about tango music. I came to start appreciating how the music was crafted to dance to. I loved pausing when the music suggested a pause, hitting the ends of phrases, dancing the syncopas, the piano fills, the vals 1-2-3-4 timings, alternating the melody and the rhythm. Gradually it became less fun to dance to nuevo, since it didn't have the things I loved. Most nuevo songs have a strong beat, maybe some energy changes...and that's it. I felt constrained. It felt like a lot of the movements I knew just didn't fit. A cross felt just as good here as it did there. I found myself sitting out alt sets more, getting more and more picky with the alt sets I would finally dance to.

    If someone hasn't invested a lot of time investing in traditional tango music, I get why you'd like nuevo a lot. It's similar to the music you've listened to all your life, in the car on the way to work. It feels more right. Also, everyone dances tango for different reasons. There are what I call movement-focused dancers, who get the most pleasure from the physicality of the dance. They like the sweeping volcadas, the big boleos, the intricate wraps. For them, nuevo's lack of musical direction is a blessing as it allows the most flexibility for their movements. There are then the musical-oriented dancers, who get the most pleasure by fitting their movements to the music. They tend to like simpler movements since they offer the most flexibility. They're short and can be fit to a musical feature at a moment's notice. It goes without saying that these dancers would find a natural draw to traditional tango music. I'm not saying one focus is better than the other. But, it seems as though the musical-focused dancers are in the majority, since traditional tango music dominates.

    I also don't want it implied that beginner dancers like nuevo and advanced dancers like traditional. There are a lot of advanced dancers that love nuevo. I think once you get to a high level, even traditional music might start to bore some dancers, once they feel like they've explored it thoroughly. Other dancers never get bored of exploring traditional. For these dancers who feel the need to explore past traditional, the lack of structure of nuevo might give them different subtleties to explore. I sometimes say, tongue-in-cheek: "Beginners like nuevo. Intermediate like D'Arienzo. Advanced like Pugliese. Masters like nuevo."
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Traditional tango music makes me want to dance and nuevo (or alternative) doesn't. So given a variety of events that I could attend, I nearly always favour the DJ who plays traditional over any alternative. Partly this is personal taste, but it is also the fact that I don't think the two musical styles go together very well.

    The quality of the recorded sound for much of the Golden Age repertoire is a challenge to many. Beginners frequently say things like 'I don't know why you listen to all that scratchy old stuff ...'; but the brain is very good at filtering out distortion and background noise. If I attend a well-presented event with traditional music, my attention is on the music and not the noise. However, with a mixed programme, historical recordings of limited frequency and dynamic range, along with background noise and distortion are played alongside modern full-frequency stereo recordings, often (too often) at high volume and with thumping bass. The 'illusion' is lost: the ears (brain, really) can't recalibrate quickly enough, and while I can try and kid myself otherwise, my enjoyment of all of the music is diminished - they don't go well together.

    On a related subject, I am often left wondering why so many tango DJs play loud, intrusive, pop music as cortinas. I know, of course, that a cortina is meant to mark very clearly the end of a group of dances and to signal that dancers should clear the floor - but the effect of playing (as I heard just the other day) Bowie's Space Oddity, straight after a lovely, gentle tanda of D'Agostino/Vargas was just crass, particularly as the cortina was twice the volume of the tango. Some DJ's even 'boast' of how they like to manipulate the emotions and mood of the dancers by their 'clever' use of cortinas, and other devices. I don't want my attention drawn to the DJ: rather, that the DJ's art should lead me further and further into the music of tango by the careful choice of a set. If I wanted pop music played at high volume I'd go to discos (are there still discos?) and dance Hustle.
    Omar Maderna and Juniper Ivy like this.
  4. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    This makes sense because nuevo and traditional are very different and many people evidently have a strong preference. Nuevo moves are big and showy and physically strenuous. And traditional allows for a special intimacy and subtilty.
  5. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    How do you define nuevo music? I can dance to modern arrangements as long as the music has soul, but I cannot dance to synthesizer music. As for the style of dancing, long ago one of my mentors said this to me: "Remember these words after I'm long gone. There will come a time when you will be able to do all these moves, but when you get there, you won't want to..."
    Lois Donnay and Juniper Ivy like this.
  6. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    And one thing that traditional songs are recorded live, while modern music is produced by copying same clips of the music.

    Traditional tango music has more enthropy i.e. chaos so we can always find something new in song.
    Which is very unlikely in neo tango music since the parts are copied and are the same.
  7. Juniper Ivy

    Juniper Ivy Member

    It is true that within nuevo music there is a wide variation. But nuevo does not have the scratchy old record sound that ukdancer referred to. :)
  8. Juniper,

    From a purely personal perspective, I find tango music the most beautiful of all the varieties of dance music, particularly the more wistful and poignant compositions.

    On the other hand, the actual method of movement has limited visual appeal, at least as far as I can tell: the ponderous concentric rotation around the room gives a satisfying sort of "spiral galaxy" effect, but it doesn't have the compelling, can't-tear-my-eyes-away beauty of other early- to mid-20th Century dances such as the Jitterbug, the Swing, or the Schenectady Shuffle (though there is the compensating advantage that it isn't quite as difficult to execute as those dances).

    Therefore if I chose which dance to learn based on an auditory aesthetic rather than a kinetic one, I would choose tango (as indeed I have done, being more sensitive to acoustic stimuli than spatial ones).

    But Nuevo Tango essentially combines the worst of both worlds, indifferent music with a vaguely pleasing but less than exciting form of movement. If I were to speculate on why it is given a "hard time" as you put it, that would be my guess.

    Omar Maderna likes this.
  9. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    To many people who dance tango dancing to non-tango music feels like a completely different dance. In those who also have done other dances it produces completely different reflexes in their body. At the same time, people come to a milonga to dance tango, so they often do mind other very unrelated dances at the milonga. It disrupts the mood and the flow for them. If they wanted to dance something else they would go to a different place.
    For those who like or don't mind that kind of things "alternative milonga" is a solution.
  10. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    ... and yet, for most of the Golden Age, no one would expect tango music for more than half the programme: a tango orquesta would play a set alternating with a jazz band. It must have been very different from our current way of dancing.
    Mladenac likes this.
  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Glad to see someone else has taken this up. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I know if they played "only tango," rather than the tango / milonga / vals mix, I know I would have not stayed with the current form as long as I have.
    Other dances have their own special events where folks pretty much do one dance. This is in contrast to my other favorite dance genre of "country western," where there is a lot of variety (to me) in the types of dances.

    Another thought is that our current use of recorded music makes the rotation of groups of musicians unnecessary, and facilitates "non stop" whatever .
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Yes, but they did not dance tango to jazz music. They danced foxtrot etc.
    When there is a break in a milonga, I too dance salsa, swing, merengue or whatever they play.
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  13. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Yes, true enough, but those members of the dance community that DO dance tango to nuevo music (alternative is, well, alternative) would be very definite that they WERE dancing to tango music.

    The tradition could have been to alternate two tango orquestas - but even at the height of the tango craze, I don't think that happened. Social dancers were quite adaptable, but we never hear a word about how they learned the different styles, and the impression is often left that tango existed in a vacuum. It didn't then, and it doesn't now.
  14. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    IMHO There were more generalized approach to dancing.

    It's very difficult to dance many dances well when some of them have contradicting philosophies of movement.
    They dance with more variety but with less skill in dancing.

    Modern approach to tango is quite demanding so switching to other dances is diffcult.
    And even professional dancing at that time couldn't be compared to the new one.

    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  15. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Hahaha, could someone in the 60-s imagine a lady deliberately raise her skirt and show her underpants in a ballroom?
  16. Joy In Motion

    Joy In Motion Active Member

    Traditional Golden Age music fits the dance so perfectly, so it is my absolute favorite. But when I go to an alternative milonga I love it because it brings out different things in my dancing. I also find that some people find a freedom in dancing to alternative/nuevo music that they somehow don't find with traditional music. Obviously the dance grew up with traditional music and fits it the best, but well-chosen alternative music can offer different kinds of feelings and inspiration. It can be relaxing or exciting in a different way.

    I know sometimes "nuevo" moves are often defined as big, showy, and physically strenuous. But I personally don't find that I dance bigger and more showy in alternative, and subtly and intimately in traditional. I have danced big and "showy" to traditional and small and intimate to alternative. I find all of these possibilities exist in both types of music. For me it depends on the individual song, the mood I'm in, my relationship with my partner, the energy in the room, etc.
    oldtangoguy likes this.
  17. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Speaking from very limited experience: I have never seen all the dancers do synchronized movements with classical Tango. It is de rigueur that newer bands do an accompanying video. Once Bajofondo's Pa Bailar started playing, and all the couples did the two step thing, as depicted in the video, in synch. It was pretty neat. Here is the video that apparently all had watched:

  18. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I saw it as it was part of some choreography and as social dancer it looked wierd. ;)

    Some things over time might get repulstive :cool:
  19. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think everyone that dislikes nuevo, does so for the same reason. IMO, there are two general categories, the nuevo dance style, and the alternative music that some will dance nuevo to.

    One teacher said to me (when I was in Argentina) that he feels nuevo should be grouped more with stage tango than the social style of dance. Some people dislike it because it takes more space. I heard people raise other concerns, based around floorcraft issues (like not keeping the ronda moving, especially when the floor is crowded). I think most of these dance related issues can also occur with other styles as well, but I can see how people might feel nuevo is more likely to cause issues.

    FWIW, I occasionally do lead some colgadas, leg wraps, and stuff, when I think there's enough space.

    Now as for alternative music, IMO too many DJs play some really awful songs for alternative music. Also, many do not seem to have a clue how to construct a tanda, when playing alternative music. Too often, I hear DJs playing songs that simply don't belong in the same tanda, (based on the emotion or feel of the songs). Sometimes DJs playing golden age music make this same mistake as well. It's not enough to simply pick a few songs from the same orchestra, and think it's a good tanda. Whether it's Traditional music or alternative, the songs need to go together, and the first song should give people an idea of what to expect emotionally (and musically) for the tanda. (Is the tanda: rhythmic, soulful, dynamic, full of longing, etc.?) I've even heard a couple DJs put an alternative tango and alternative vals in the same tanda. o_O

    When I DJ I usually will play 2 or 3 tandas of alternative music at a 4 hour milonga (unless I know/suspect that the organizer and/or dancers don't want it). BTW, a few places want a lot more than that (upwards of 30% alternative).
  20. Tango Distance

    Tango Distance Active Member

    Just to be clear, I wouldn't advocate whole songs should be choreographed! For me it is a really neat moment when I stop and start at the same times as the two best leads of the floor, or everyone is going fast and I and one or two of the most experienced leads are going slow, or I happen to do a figure in sync with another couple. Admittedly it is rare for me, but it has happened. Anyway, newer music has videos that give some hints for these opportunities was my point. If you go to a night club with modern music you'll see dancers grabbing elements from the videos, I think that adds to the fun. Exactly copying the whole thing would not be as fun for me -- it would make it obvious when I made a mistake! :eek: Also I wouldn't then be dancing the music as I felt it.

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