El tango del siglo XXI
June 29, 2008 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Dancing tango to Eminem

The tango that being reclaimed by the Rio de la Plate culture is neither your grandma's ballroom tango nor the neotango/neutango/tangoneuvo of the West. Popular music per el tango del siglo XXI is Bajofondo, Tanghetto, Narcotango and of course, Europe's own Gotan Project.

Hollywood spoiled the tango for many -- JLo and Banderas are doing an interpretive dance here not a tango; ditto in this Moulin Rouge scene. But, kinda as expected, Al Pacino gets it just about right, as does the classic Argentinian movie Tango. Enjoy!
posted by ruelle (47 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
To me that first video doesn't work at all. Great dancing but it's ruined by the music (not to mention the guy unpacking his groceries in the middle of it). The dancing doesn't have anything to do with what's going on with the music and vice versa. Neither complements the other--they're just happening at the same time.
posted by dobbs at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm a big fan of mashups and unusual juxtapositions, and am guilty of posting one myself not too long ago. That said, the Eminem tango doesn't do it for me. The dancing isn't particularly good, and its relationship to the music seems pretty tenuous. The fact that two things don't go together doesn't in itself make juxtaposing them edgy or revelatory.

Now excuse me while I go finish off my cucumber and rice krispies sandwich.
posted by googly at 9:31 AM on June 29, 2008

They're dancing with it not to it.
posted by fire&wings at 9:32 AM on June 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

No love for Duvall?
Excellent post...
posted by dawson at 9:36 AM on June 29, 2008

Yeah, I gather that the guy 'unpacking his groceries' is a local drunk who wandered onto the dancing pit.
But I thought the music and the dance go brilliantly well together - kinda reclaiming the street cred of the tango - and I thought the dance was well tuned to the stops and accents of the rap. I'll grant you that it's very unconventional; I doubt many tangoeros would want to dance in baggy jeans and to Eminem no less.
posted by ruelle at 9:37 AM on June 29, 2008

Kinda related: Charleston to Daft Punk.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:41 AM on June 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

dawson - yes, lots of love for Duvall who's sorely missing from the original post. :)
posted by ruelle at 9:42 AM on June 29, 2008

posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 9:46 AM on June 29, 2008

See Detroit, globalisation isn't so bad.
posted by phrontist at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm with googly here. I am a huge sucker for the oddball juxtaposition, but the lead just isn't very good (neither is the one in the second video), and I just don't feel the connection with this Eminem song. One of the few decent things about that particular Eminem piece is the very intense crescendos and climactic peaks, which seem to be completely ignored in the dancing. And while I have nothing against dancing in casual clothing, I think the tango (a dance where the dancers' legs move in very close proximity to their partner's) should not be danced in thick, baggy pants.
posted by ErWenn at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2008

I was all prepared to think the criticism was of the "HEY YOU KIDS, GET OFF MY LAWN!" variety, but nope. It's spot on; I like the idea but there seems to be very little relationship between the two people dancing and the song in the first link. They could be dancing to "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" or something and I wouldn't have noticed a difference.

ErWenn's criticism of baggy pants is a little off-my-lawnish, though, even if I wouldn't be caught dead in them.
posted by Justinian at 10:38 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm not going to bother with the main video, given the unanimous thumbs-down, but I thank you for the Pacino scene, which was terrific.

/used to live in Buenos Aires, loves old-style tango
posted by languagehat at 10:58 AM on June 29, 2008

First of all, dropped crotch trousers are back, baby. And secondly, dancing in MC Hammer Pants to Emenim has got to be better than dancing to MC Hammer in Emenim pants.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2008

The tango seemed to be a lot about the leg movements, except you couldn't see the legs because the guy was wearing the denim version of MC-hammer pants. If the dance gains any traction, it will change the fashion.

Hollywood spoiled the tango for many

Sounds like a matter of personal preference to me - there is no One True Tango. and my guess is that tango already cycled in and out of pop culture a few times, and will presumably continue to do so in the future. Hollywood's obvious problem though, would be that its films feature actors, not dancers :-)
(With the possible exception of that woman Antonio Banderas is dancing with (who for ther record is not JLo. Her IMDB shows little other than dance parts, so I'm guessing her background is dance))
posted by -harlequin- at 11:25 AM on June 29, 2008

First of all, dropped crotch trousers are back, baby.

Sweet! Tonight, it's all about baggy pants.
posted by Hoopo at 11:41 AM on June 29, 2008

I'll go ahead and say I was with the thumbs down group the first time I watched and then went back and read the comments and watched it again to answer the question "Are they off beat?". The answer is no they are not. There were some issues but given how solidly on beat they were in the rest of it, I can forgive it. They do try to accentuate the beat changes and crescendos and some of that fails miserably and there is no way to get any sense of tension from this video but overall I thought it was an interesting experiment. I like this FPP it helped me decide to try and learn the tango. I love the close in work.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:45 AM on June 29, 2008

I'm not going to bother with the main video, given the unanimous thumbs-down, but I thank you for the Gabrielle Anwar scene, which was terrific.

Huah. (some of those are NSFW.)
posted by emelenjr at 11:46 AM on June 29, 2008

Who was "Eminem?"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:04 PM on June 29, 2008

If you like this kind of music/dance pairing (and have access to US TV*) you should be watching So You Think You Can Dance? -- a great great great dancing competition that features all sorts of ballroom dances to unexpected songs.

*I gather from my YouTubery that the show is available in other countries, too, but I can't speak for them.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:09 PM on June 29, 2008

Cute moonwalking bear.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:24 PM on June 29, 2008

I like the reactions this is getting: I wouldn't say the thumbs-down is unanimous but it's definately more vocal that then thumbs up crowd. The underlying current here revolves around the "One True Tango" concept. Can you tango to non-tango music? Can you tango in baggy pants? I think you can tango in whatever and to whatever you want. And the professionals tend to agree - Homer and Cristina Ladas usually dance in baggy clothes and the dancer known as El Pupo in baggy dress pants and tangoeing to Rock and Roll.

My favourite baggy pants dancers are these two awesome (gasp) french boys dancing the swing, dressed ghetto (complete with wife-beaters and bling bling!)
posted by ruelle at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

I like the guy that comes in and puts his groceries down in the middle of the dance area
cool vid, i passed it along...
posted by femmme at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2008

I don't think that's fair, ruelle. I think you can tango to and in whatever you want, but that doesn't mean they danced to the music well at all.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 PM on June 29, 2008

Justinian go back and watch the footwork and listen to the beat, the snare and the low bass thump. They're on beat. they use both beats, but they are on beat. Every step is on time.
posted by Rubbstone at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2008

But there is far, far more to dancing to music than just being on beat. I can jump up and down on-beat but that doesn't mean I'm dancing well to the music.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on June 29, 2008

You folks who think that they're not dancing with the music are completely wrong. You need to take a much closer look at what they're doing, particularly with their steps. That, or stop pretending to know when skilled tango dancers are or are not doing their dance properly.

They're doing something new and doing it very well. I'm totally impressed.
posted by redteam at 2:51 PM on June 29, 2008

I have nothing against baggy pants, Justinian. I don't even have anything against dancing in baggy pants. I don't have anything against dancing the tango in casual clothes either. I do have something against dancing the tango in bulky, baggy pants. It obscures the motion of the leg and kind of gets in the way due to the nature of some tango moves. MC Hammer pants might even be less obscuring because they're often thin and might move out of the way as a thin, loose skirt might (but that's sheer speculation). In any case, it's not my primary reason for being underwhelmed by the video.

They're not dancing terribly, either. Their sense of rhythm seems fine, but there's something about the style of the lead that just doesn't grab me. It just feels a little sloppy, and it looks like he's staring at his feet. It could also have been choreographed a little better. It's not that it's terrible; I was just hoping for a little more inspiration. It's not a great song (not because it's Eminem; I've got nothing against his music), but as I said before, the parts of it that are interesting (the tension and the points of climax, specifically) haven't been incorporated into the dance. Not that the dance has to reflect everything in the music, but it was somewhat disappointing to me to find that they chose this song and then ignored what makes it interesting.

It's possible that some of what struck me as errors of omission or lack of skill are in fact due to intentional artistic decisions. But if that's the case, it doesn't change the fact that it still doesn't strike me as interesting or impressive. If this dance is typical of some particular new wave of tango, then I guess I just don't like that particular new wave.
posted by ErWenn at 3:19 PM on June 29, 2008

By the way, "sheer speculation" was not an intended pun. I didn't even notice it until just now.
posted by ErWenn at 3:20 PM on June 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Put me in the thumbs-up category, F the haters. This obviously wasn't professionally produced and choreographed (judging by the groceries guy) which makes the criticism in this thread all the more laughable. I never realized tango could match with such a straight 4/4 so well. I'm putting it next on my list to learn. (But I probably won't be posting a video to Metafilter)

I agree with the anti-baggy pants crowd though, baggy pants are barely even hip-hop anymore.
posted by anomie at 3:28 PM on June 29, 2008

It's not the tango, I'm just kinda sick of that song.
posted by bwg at 3:49 PM on June 29, 2008

I don't really feel like anyone here (except maybe dobbs) expressed an opinion that I would describe as "hate", so I think "F the haters" is needlessly rude.

I only expanded my argument because I felt that I was being misunderstood. I do not believe in any "One True Tango" (and judging from other criticisms here, I don't think there are many people here who do). I don't think the dancers have problems matching the beat (again, I don't think anyone here thinks they were off-beat). And for the third time, I am not anti-baggy-pants!
posted by ErWenn at 5:44 PM on June 29, 2008

And from nuestramirada.org, Tango, the best slideshow I've seen on the culture that surrounds the music.
posted by micayetoca at 6:09 PM on June 29, 2008

1- It's Río de la Plata or River Plate, not Rio de la Plate. Unless you where doing a mashup, in which case, cool.
2- The first video works for me. She's more skilled than he is, but the song has both the start/stop and the syncopation needed for tango, and they pull it off.
3- The problem isn't the baggy pants, it's the sneakers.
posted by signal at 6:32 PM on June 29, 2008

I don't really feel like anyone here (except maybe dobbs) expressed an opinion that I would describe as "hate"

I think we are working off different definitions of the word hater.

A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.

posted by anomie at 6:37 PM on June 29, 2008

That's conceivable, anomie, but I still resent being told that I should be "F"ed. (Unless we're working with different definitions of "F" here. I can think of a few senses in which I wouldn't mind it.)

In any case, applying that Urban Dictionary definition of "hater" to someone just because they give criticism is a pretty silly thing to do.
posted by ErWenn at 8:55 PM on June 29, 2008

I'd heard that Florence Henderson is planning on dancing to this on next season's Dancing With The Stars.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:59 PM on June 29, 2008

Great links. I have seen a lot of ballroom tango, and some "argentine tango" done by ballroom dancers, but its been a while since I got to see tango as a evolving and modern dance.
posted by vegetableagony at 5:31 AM on June 30, 2008

Oh, please. Your indignation borders on parody. You have taken offense at my use of a phrase that is so common in hip-hop culture that it's become passe. Shit, it wasn't even directed at you. F off.
posted by anomie at 6:39 AM on June 30, 2008

If you two could effing drop it, that'd be great.
posted by cortex at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2008

1- It's Río de la Plata or River Plate, not Rio de la Plate. Unless you where doing a mashup, in which case, cool.

No, Rio de la Plata means "River of Silver."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2008

No, Rio de la Plata means "River of Silver."

What do you mean, "No"? Nothing in the comment you quote contradicts that. Yes, plata means 'silver,' but it has never been called "River of Silver" in English, only Río de la Plata and River Plate.
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2008

Ah, my mistake. I never heard that name for it, and took his "River Plate" as a bad mistranslation. But it's an... old mistranslation? Ugh, I don't care for the use of "Plate" as an adjective. Way to go, Englishmen.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2008

Wikipedia says it's not a mistranslation of any kind.
posted by signal at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2008

Well, this FPP sure brought out some passionate debate. ;) I'll side-step the major disagreements (except that I meant to write Plata instead of Plate, no mashup intended, my bad) and address those that want to hear/read more about el tango.
The National Geographic has a nice photo montage of the tango. I would jump to the "Private Language" link, go to the end and then start from the beginning.
This beginner's guide to the tango is rich in facts of a tango life. Includes a very good explanation of eye contact at milongas. From anecdotal evidence, I can attest that this also works in non-milonga environments like catching the attention of a waiter or any person relatively far away. The Yale Tango Club also has a brilliant page on "tango manners" when you are in a tango dance hall aka a milonga.
As for music for new dancers, this page details it down to the exact two CDs you should start listening to. You can also ignore all that and just go with whatever you have on your shelves. Here's a page that lists the best pop/rock/triphop music that works for tango.
Once you're hooked (about 4 lessons seems to be the average) Tova and Carlos Moreno, tangoeros from Boston, have a detailed tango page including where to sleep, where to dance, what to read, who to call before you even step out of Buenos Aires airport.
The worldwide repositary of tango related events is here - milongas and practicas are not updated because there are simply too many. Here's another sets of tango links divided per country and then per US state.
And then comes the day when after watching dancing feet for hours as if you were on drugs, you realise you are obsessed and here's how to recognise that you're a tango junkie. Enjoy!
posted by ruelle at 5:08 PM on June 30, 2008

Sorry if I got a little pissy there.
posted by ErWenn at 5:25 PM on June 30, 2008

We all got a little piss sometimes. I just like saying "effing".
posted by cortex at 5:35 PM on June 30, 2008

I think that this breathes a wonderful new life into an art form that is really becoming forgotten. Admission: I have never seen Daning with the Stars. I enjoy ballroom dancing and the transition to modern music may just keep this form of dance alive. No, it wasn't perfect, but it was performed with a modern attitude while employing an older form of dance. I think it's great. This will definitely remain in my head when I am listening to modern music. So few opportunities these days to dance the tango in the U.S....
posted by kamikazegopher at 5:53 PM on June 30, 2008

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