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An Intro to the Bandoneon

The Bandoneon: Iconic and Extraordinary


The bandoneon is, without a doubt, the instrument that we identify with tango. It’s melancholic and haunting sound combined with it’s intriguing construction leave us feeling overwhelmed with curiosity and pleasure. I’ve always found it in one word: mysterious.

Bandoneons are a dynamic instrument in the sense that they actively play both melody and rhythm (mainly rhythm). There are techniques for making the sound more intense/harsh creating a ‘boom’ on the downbeat as there are techniques for stretching one note for what seems like forever. Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino stretches and builds intensity; whereas, Canaro en Paris and Variaciones of David Alsina and Flight of the Bumblebee will blow you away with other-worldly speed. We rarely see such incredible acts of artistry in the music we use to dance due to the fact that it would make it too difficult for dancing. That doesn’t meant that a Tango musician was any less talented or dedicated in his art than his brothers who were playing Bach!

The first Bandoneon was introduced into a tango in 1899. The first tango bandoneon is widely considered Juan Maglio “Pacho” and his friend, a guitarist, Luciano Rios. They played together for decades later forming ‘La Orquesta del Primero’ in 1912 adding a violin for a trio! History completed, back to brilliant musicians. After the early 1900’s musicians were either conservatory trained, or prodigies who wanted to make a living playing in the bands. Singers (like Fama, Vargas, Podesta, and Rufino) were treated like pop stars and the tango life was that of the bohemian nightlife. Tango culture in the 1940’s was something that attracted musicians from all schools.

There is one great problem that modern tango orchestras and arrangers face when creating new music with a ‘vintage sound’ or replicating the iconic scores of the 20th century. The first is that it is too difficult to have an entire Bandoneon section. This is a result of several facts, mainly,  there isn’t enough money. Modern dance halls don’t generally have the support of 200 people per night to pay a band with a pianist, 3 bandoneons, 2 violins, bass, and singer … This completely ignores how difficult the Bandoneon is to learn! It plays a different note going in versus out and the buttons on the left and right side don’t match. It seems to me quite simply, a nightmare!

That doesn’t mean that modern music isn’t inspiring. It’s a completely different sound that is generally clean, crisp, and refined. It’s difficult have a band with the energy of D’arienzo with zero or one Bandoneon. Just look at this video and imagine what one player would have to do to create that kind of energy! Or the amount of money you would need to hire a band like that?! They would have to be making money off radio contracts and record labels, and gigs … This is a lost art and something that we probably won’t ever see again in modern music. What you can do is appreciate the live music we do have and thank the band leaders and arrangers. The hours and money they put into arranging music that originally had multiple bandoneon parts and solos, violin parts and solos, bass, and vocals with each section playing counter-melodies … uffa!

The work they do to create modern tango is simply INCOMPREHENSIBLE to those of us who just love the energy and  of a great live band. It requires true passion, drive, and love of the music.

Does this mean that ‘Traditional Tango Music’  doesn’t exist anywhere? NO! It just means that the sounds and energy of a traditional band that we hear from the 1940’s will rarely be encountered. When it is, treasure it. One of my favorite bands in Argentina is Orquesta Tipica El Afronte(sorry for the video. They converted me from an alternative/ Nuevo snob to a traditional acolyte. I’m sure it had a LOT to do with the time, place, and energy of “Maldita Milonga”. That being said, the energy of the four Bandoneons stomping on the stage, the violin bows shooting in the air, and the singer with a voice 20 years too old (thank you Marlboro) … It was an unforgettable and transformative experience that would have less power than superior musicians with smaller numbers. The best part about Argentina … is you get to see all of it. Julio Pane, Federico Leopoldo, and a thousand unknown musicans will play live music with trios and sextets that will blow you away. My most magical moment in Buenos Aires was when I was dancing on the rooftop of ‘Zonatango’ and a trio of guitars came out and started singing tangos from 1920. The reality is: the soul of tango doesn’t belong to any one instrument. Travel and see live music of all kinds. The energy of four bandoneons is undeniable … as is the duet of Julio Pane and Juanjo Dominguez!

A list of some incredible Bandoneon players you can here on youtube include Anibal Troilo, Ciriaco Ortiz, Pedro Laurenz (widely considered the three best ever), Julio Pane, Ruben Juarez, Piazzolla, and David Alsina.


Thanks for reading and let me know what you think! Sorry for any grammar and spelling errors. My teachers in school always told me “great idea, poor execution”. I hope you have as much fun reading this as I had writing it!

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The Importance of Choreographed Wedding Dances

So many couples today choose a current top 40 hit for their wedding song. This isn’t a bad thing, if the song fits the couple. However, not every current, popular song is fit for the perfect wedding dance.

There may be a song you and your fiancé would love to dance to, but can’t figure out how to coordinate something as beautiful as what you feel for each other. Or maybe, you’re the dancing queen and your partner has two left feet. Whatever the case is, almost every couple can benefit from professional dancing lessons.

Wedding DanceExtroverted, carefree couples will have no trouble getting out on the floor and swaying to the tunes in celebration of two lives coming together as one. However, it’s not that common to find two people who are comfortable and confident in their moves. In fact, many couples express that the first dance is an embarrassing or fearful moment for them. Why is this? It’s often because they’re worried the dance will come out far inferior to the romantic dream they’ve cooked up together.

Working with a professional to bring your ideas to life will help soften the nerves during your first dance, which happens to be one of the most memorable parts of your wedding day. People remember three things about weddings – the food, the music and, you guessed it, the first dance.

Many other couples have experienced great results from our professional dance lessons – just check out all of our reviews on The Knot’s marketplace. Our experienced and patient instructors work with you every step of the way to help you get the same experience that many of our please clients have had.

Contact us today to find out more or to sign up for one of our upcoming classes!

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Quit Procrastinating and Dance!


Here’s the thing: we all procrastinate. Some more than others, but it’s simply a fact of life. Maybe you’ve been putting off signing up for the gym (or getting to the gym). Maybe you’ve pushed off starting your own business. Or, maybe you’ve been talking about how you want to learn how to dance for years, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

Well, you’re in luck. Today, we’re going to provide you with some tips to help you stop procrastinating! Instead of us telling you what to do, we’ll leave it to an expert. Simply watch the video below, courtesy of Social Triggers.

Stop procrastinating! Here’s how:

Moral of the story: sometimes we need to give ourselves a little incentive (positive or negative) to get ourselves moving.

For example, if you’ve been meaning to learn how to dance for years, NOW is the time to just do it!

Sign up for a class and make that commitment to yourself. Not only will you stop procrastinating, but dancing (and learning how to dance) results in many benefits including increased confidence, reduced stress, plain old fun, a different way to exercise, and it helps you become more courageous in all aspects of your life.

And once you stop procrastinating with one area of your life, you never know how it will affect the rest of your life!

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Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone: Try Something New!

try something newLife is busy, often frenetic, and whether you are single, in a relationship, or perhaps have family, things can become routine. You can end up running on auto-pilot and in a rut, risking the joy of having passion and creativity in your life. And life is meant to be lived creatively.

This doesn’t mean that you should give up your job and abdicate your responsibilities. But it does mean that shaking things up a little might be good for not only the soul, but also for your overall wellbeing.

When you are too focused on work and the “business of the day” at the expense of your creativity you are only living with half of who you are. Trying something new, perhaps even something that provokes fear in you – whether it’s tap dancing, painting, learning a new language, skydiving, knitting, yoga, figure skating, writing, sewing, mechanics,  – whatever strikes your fancy and gets your mind, body, and spirit working outside your comfort zone, awakens the passion inside you.

Getting yourself out of a rut, and flexing muscles other than the ones you use every day, stimulates the brain and the body, and puts you in the mindset of discovery. It can stretch you in ways you never thought possible and give an added dimension to your life. And it doesn’t matter if you excel at your new endeavor.

Just the experience of it increases self-confidence, enriches your self-esteem, and gives you the impetus to keep trying new things and to grow as a human being. It makes you think differently about the person you are and see yourself anew.

And the best part of stepping out of your comfort zone is that it gives you a new appreciation for your life, yourself, and the things and people around you. You approach everything with fresh eyes and a new found gratitude for what you have.

Trying new things stimulates, brings fun into your life, and reawakens parts of yourself that may have lain dormant for a long time. It enhances your life mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. It makes you stronger, more open, and your best self. There is nothing better than that.

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How Important is Your First Dance as Man and Wife?

first danceOne of the most treasured traditions of a wedding is the couple’s first dance as man and wife. Brides and grooms spend many hours choosing the perfect song that reflects their unique relationship. The song chosen is always remembered and cherished by the couple and their guests.

This is why the couple’s first dance together as a union is so important. Your children and grandchildren will know that every time they hear a certain song it represents your love and is now a part of family history. Just remember that choosing the song should be a fun time for both of you. Too many couples become stressed out by the process.

There are many couples that take formal wedding dance lessons so that they can feel more comfortable dancing and possibly even do something exciting and unique instead of the slow dance most frequently done at social occasions.  There are even families and friends that do classes together so the entire wedding party can do something fun and memorable.first dance

It is popular today to choose fun dance songs for the couple’s first dance together. If a fun, cool dance song fits your personalities and the theme of your wedding, then making light of the first dance could be truly a memorable experience. However, make sure that you both agree on the theme and tone of the song, because you want it to make you smile every time you hear it on the radio.  There is also the wedding video to consider that will live on forever.

Though this traditional part of a wedding ceremony and reception is important for both bride and groom, make sure that you can relax and enjoy the moment. By the time the first dance comes around, the most stressful parts of the wedding are over.

The first dance should be your opportunity to exhale and bond with your spouse. So, though you truly want the song and the dance to be a significant and memorable part of your special day, make sure that you balance your wedding dance plans in a way that will not add any additional stress to your special day.   In fact, the wedding dance should be a place to let all of that go and just have a great time together.

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Social Dancing: The Perfect Way to Meet People and Make Friends

social dancing

The benefits of social dancing are endless. The truth is that once we become adults, our friend making skills seem to get a bit rusty. As children it seems much more natural to go outside and join others in play. As adults we tend to lose this natural environment in which to be social and connect with others. Social dancing is one of the best ways to get over the awkwardness of making friends and learning new skills by doing something healthy and fun.  Even those who connect with others easily seem to get stuck in ruts and have a difficult time meeting new people outside of the bar scene.

Where do I begin?

If you’ve never taken a dance class or been much of a natural dancer, it may feel odd to even think about involving yourself in a dance class or going to a salsa club or dance event. But there are many fun ways to get into the activity of social dancing that will make you feel at ease and bring some fun and new people into your life.

●     Search online for dance clubs and classes in your area. If a dance class or dance night is easy for you to get to, you will be more likely to attend.

●      If you are searching for a dance class, word of mouth is a great way to find the right instructor. Ask friends and co-workers if they know of any good dance instructors that will make you feel comfortable while you are learning. There are often informal dance classes that also double as wine nights, or social meetings held in restaurants or night clubs. This is a great way to combine the learning of a new skill with the making of friends.  If you find that you are intrigued by the idea of dancing, it is also a great way to check out your local teachers before deciding where you would like to take more formal lessons.

●     If you are new to social dancing, group lessons are a great way to begin. Group dance lessons are easy to find, a great way to meet people with similar interests, and are very economical. Learning to dance and socialize in a group is an easy way to add a spark to your social life. As everyone is just starting out there is much less pressure to be perfect and everyone can learn and have a few laughs in the process.   For the people who find the idea of learning in a group setting either too difficult or those who just need more one on one with the instructors, private lessons can be a great way to jumpstart your dancing and make future group classes easier as well as more comfortable.

social dancing

Getting over my fears of dancing in public and meeting new people

●     Once you get yourself out there in the dance world, there is often a lot of trepidation about showing off your new skills among strangers. Many people feel judged even if no one is paying any attention to them. Know that the majority of these feelings are coming from within and are not because you are actually being judged by other dancers. Oddly enough, the best thing you can do, is get on the dance floor and dance next to the very best dancer on the floor.  It is a well known fact that our eyes are drawn to good dancers so no one will be looking at you at all.  So, get over these fears by simply dancing through the intimidation and awkwardness.  The most important thing is to just get on the floor whether hiding in the middle of the crowd or dancing next to the divas.  Just get on with having a great time dancing!

●     When others see your fearlessness of making a few mistakes, they will be interested in who you are. Not being afraid to show that you are a beginner and that dancing should always be a super fun activity, not a stressor, will make you more attractive to those around you!  It shows a sense of adventure and an ability to laugh at yourself, not take yourself too seriously and a willingness to try new things.  Experienced dancers will be drawn to you because they see someone who is not afraid to take on a challenge, and newbies will feel comfortable around you and be inspired by your ability to just get on the dance floor and enjoy your new moves.

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