Building a tanda

A tanda is like a paragraph in a text. It has to have a flow. It needs to make sense. It is not four tracks one after the other. That is bad DJing. And we want none of that.
Usually tandas have four tracks. There is a recent trend of making vals and milonga tandas shorter. It didn’t use to be like that before. I use 4 tracks for all tandas. In the end, if I notice people are tired, I may reduce them to 3, especially if they are quick and energetic.
If we think of a tanda like four parts, this is what it should be structured like

1 Big music
3 Experimental music*
4 Emotional or feel good music

1 – Big music – this is a recognizable music with the power to attract dancers. You want people to hear the first chords and jump in excitation to start dancing it. Examples would include Te aconsejo que me olvides by Troilo, Que falta que me haces by Caló, Mandria by D’Arienzo, Bahia Blanca by Di Sarli (by no means an extensive list).

2 – this is the sort of slot you can relax. It needs to be something very similar to the first track. Remember you are aiding the dancers to dance well. They need to sync so they need a nice even tanda.

3 – if you want, this is the time to put a relatively unknown track or a challenging track. For example, this is where I would put La Espuela in a milonga tanda by D’Arienzo. It is an amazing track by punctuated with rhythm changes and sudden stops. Another one is Belgica by Biagi. There is no harm in not experimenting, and this is what you should do on a regular basis.

4 – this is the end of the tanda. Like in any activity, much of your perception of a certain activity is marked by the last bit of it. You want a feel-good track, maybe even a challenging but well known track. What you’re looking is for a sea of grins after the last note, a sigh of happiness.

Traditional Buenos Aires milongas will have a TTVTTM structure. I strongly advise you to follow this framework. However, this is not a golden rule. For example, in milonguitas, with less than 3 hours of dancing, it may be wise to use a TVTM structure. This may also be the structure you want to adopt for a practica. Otherwise, you can reduce your tandas to 3 tracks per tanda.

*maybe I should not be subtle here. Milonga is NOT the time to experiment new music. But if there is a track that you think is catchy, is heard few times in a milonga and sounds like the rest of the tracks in the rest of the tanda, then, after careful consideration, you can think about putting it, in that slot. This “experiment” should be a exception, not a rule.

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