Tonight, was the first of our new, monthly Tango Nights. And it was a very special…dare I say…historical…night at the Brisbane Jazz Club.

Providing the music…along with a running commentary on the history and nuances of Argentine Tango, which shares its working-class roots with American Jazz…were talented and knowledgeable exponents of this música, Diez Cuerdas.

Diez Cuerdas means Ten Strings; that is four from Liz Young’s violin and six from Rory Dollard’s guitar. Tonight, they were Fourteen Strings – Catorce Cuerdas – with Chloe Williamson on double bass.

And wow, these three talents certainly have the chops. Liz is from the Mendoza Tango Quartet. Rory is from Cigany Weaver and Run Rabbit. Chloe is from Tango Enigmático and co-founded and directed the Mendoza Tango Quartet from 2014-2018.

As a trio…even without a bandoneón, (the Tango accordion)…they were able to give us all the passion and range of styles that you would get from a traditional Tango orchestra.

Rory’s clean and clear, percussive, staccato guitar and Chloe’s warm, fulsome bow-played bass were the steady, reliable, idiosyncratic backbeat…the anchor.

And while Liz’s violin provided most of the deliciously toned and flawlessly delivered melodies, occasionally, the guitar or bass would cheekily, seamlessly slide in, to steal a little of the limelight.

And Liz is a great raconteur; a Tango Educator, sharing the story of Tango… the terminology, the styles, the composers…of the music that they are playing.

To appreciate everything we learnt from Liz on the night, you just had to be there. Suffice to say, that the Tango luminaries to whom we were introduced on this guided tour, included Carlos Romuald Gardel (1890-1935), Juan d’Arienzo (1900-1976), Carlos Di Sarli (1903-1960), Osvaldo Pedro Pugliese (1905-1995), Aníbal Carmelo Troilo (1914-1975) and Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla (1921-1992).

The music, presented in 3 or 4 song tandas, (sets), was expressive, uplifting, carefree, loving, playful, hopeful, peaceful, and at times, serious and sombre. And at all times, it was perfect for the dance!!

Fortuitously, recent easing of Covid-19 restrictions allows us to accommodate appropriately socially distanced dancing outside on our riverside deck.

So, with a long, wide roll of lino, some duct tape and some talcum powder, we set up a temporary dance floor. And Ole!! The dancers…many from local Argentine Tango club, Tangonut…were away!!

And, oh, those dancers!! Their elegance. Their glamour. Their style.

It was all on display in the queue at door. But once they hit the dance floor, it was FIRE!!

Think Al Pacino and Gabrielle Anwar in 1992’s ‘Scent Of A Woman’. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tia Carrere in 1994’s ‘True Lies’.

The sculpted precision. The intensity. The outfits. The sensuous, intimate moves. The extravagant swaying of the hips. The quick, purposeful knee bend. An exaggerated lifting of a heel and toes, (a boleo). And gently held, head-to-head embraces.

The delicate stops. The perfectly timed starts. And a feast of dance styles, including Tango salon, Tango milonguero, Tango nuevo and Tango vals.

What a night!! Two simultaneous performances. One inside. One outside.

Inside: the sublime, passionately presented Tango music from 3 talented musicians. Outside: the beauty of the dancers and their dance.

At the end of the night, the riverside dance floor was rolled up, as it would likely not have survived the Brisbane River’s next high and salty tide. However, given the success of tonight’s Milonga, that lino will be rolled out again next month.

Diez Cuerdas and Tangonut told us in advance, to ‘Be prepared to laugh, to cry and be swept away with the magic that is Tango’. 

We did it all.  Thank you.

So, all you Milongueros, be here next time, when we will do it all again!!

Alan Smith

Brisbane Jazz Club

PS  The music of the night was recorded by Brisbane’s Radio 4EB. It was broadcast on Thursday, February 18th, and is available for replay at Jazz and the World – 4EB –