Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tango Crazy: 8½ Souvenirs and "Tango Lunatico"

Tango Lunatico by 8½ Souvenirs on Grooveshark

One my my current co-workers went through a tango phase. Once or twice each week he'd go to tango lessons. Part of the motivation was to meet people, especially single women, and part of the motivation was just love of the movement and dancing. He got to be relatively good - probably a mid-level tango dancer - but he would tell me the stories of the hierarchy that developed among tango dancers. The advanced students danced with the advance students, and would get annoyed at having to dance with a lower level student. The mid-level dancers would feel lucky if they managed to score a dance with a higher level dancer, but annoyed themselves if they got a beginner. And beginners? They were s*** out of luck unless a set of circumstances all came together in a perfect storm. This hierarchy of tango, along with its reputation as a dance associated with a more sophisticated, upper class set, seems to clash with the origin of the tango, which was developed in the slums of Argentina and Uruguay. But there is no denying its global reach. It is danced in various forms throughout the world, and some tangos even have countries' names associated with them or are very regional, such as the Finnish tango or the tango camacupense popular in Angola. Putumayo World Music devoted one of its world music compilations to tango from various parts of the globe. Even I learned a couple of tango moves, though the sum extent of what I know would last about 3 seconds on the dance floor.

So, tango's the reason for the big lead up to today's random tune, Tango Lunatico by 8½ Souvenirs. You'll hear the typical tango beat, aggressive and lush reflecting the sexuality and machismo also associated with the dance, with a very prominent lead guitar (though electric, unlike the traditional tangos). 8½ Souvenirs is an Austin band of the 1990s that disbanded about 2000. While called an American swing jazz band led by French turned American lead guitarist Olivier Giraud, it was clearly influenced by gypsy jazz and other European and Latin American styles. It's name came from the Fellini movie and the Django Reinhardt song Souvenirs. Tango Lunatico is from 8½ Souvenirs' 1997 album Souvonica.