A Tango DJ – Gabriel Sodini
It is not an easy task to introduce one of the most renowned Argentinian tango Djs while choosing only several of all his projects and accomplishments. Born in Buenos Aires, he has been a DJ at several of its famous milongas since more than 15 years (for example Club Villa Malcom, Club Independencia and Confiteria Ideal). He has been playing all around the world and participates in numerous international tango festivals in Europe and Americas playing, giving profound classes of tango Djing and sharing his enthusiasm for art and life.
DJ Gabriel Sodini.
- How does a man become a tango DJ? Was it a long way or rather something natural to you?
It is something I had from the moment I was born, as we say from my mom’s belly. Tango is a part of a culture of the place that I come from; Barracas in Buenos Aires. When I was a child, my mom was suffering from various lengthy diseases, she also lost a child and I was growing up almost in a house of my uncles with my cousins and they used to play a lot of music, they had plenty of recordings. I remember that already as 9-10 years old boys we were appointed to play music at the traditional school parties in basic school and later on at high school. This was not a tango music, we were playing and dancing to different styles. But others were criticizing me for my choice of music because the boys usually wanted to dance to rhythmical and fast music while I was putting many slow songs. I preferred the slow ones because I liked the moments of embracing with girls while dancing. So this is how my general DJ career started and I entered the tango scene somehow later, I was playing at a milonga for the first time in 1996.
- You have built a huge experience from playing music at various famous milongas in Buenos Aires throughout all those years. Can you tell us about changes that occurred in tango world and especially the music and evolution of tastes for tango music in Argentinian tango public? How have the task of tango DJ changed?
It changed considerably and in many aspects. In those times the most traditional tango music was played at milongas and nothing else. You could hear four orchestras: D’Arienzo, Di Sarli, Pugliese and Troilo. It is true that these four are covering different epochs and all kinds of musical variables and rhythms. But times are changing and at the end you need to find something to surprise and to learn how to read the tastes of the dance floor. Nowadays the music is much more various, we have new music that comes from abroad and also the music from the first tango orchestras, the old forgotten sextets as Fresedo, De Caro and Firpo. All these are fashionable trends that are emerging since 3 or 4 years. But they also make the DJ discover new tango epochs, new melodies and rhythms and thus contributing to a DJ`s professional growth.
- And you personally, do you prefer the music exclusively from the golden age of tango or do you like experimenting with a less traditional music too?
The golden age of tango was very rich in quantity and quality of the orchestras and musicians but in reality it gives you different type of energy than the music from 30s and still different sonority than the 50s stereo recordings. Therefore I am helping myself with sound equalizer, playing with the basses and trebles. There are different options in music choices now and I try to use all of them.
- How do you choose music for a particular event?
I never choose music in advance, music simply exists. Nowadays we all have the same music so it is not a matter of quantity rather of the order of the music. The order is something fundamental that the night, the dance floor and the party requires and it is not something that you will know in advance. The important is to read the moment, to improvise. For this you will need to know the music, listen to it and study so you can give the best. Maybe just because I also dance what is important is to give what incites you to dance. And it can be even only the theme of the songs.
- Are there orchestras that you never omit in a milonga?
Yes, orchestras that you are not supposed to omit are the four I have mentioned: D`Arienzo, Di Sarli, Pugliese and Troilo. But from times to times it happens to me to realize “wow, the evening is over and I have not played some of them!” just by mistake.
- What advice would you give to a beginner tango DJ?
I would recommend him or her to listen a lot of music and not to prepare a playlist but to prepare different tandas of all the possible orchestras. Like this the DJ can arrange them at the right moment.
- What do you personally enjoy most in this work?
The most enjoyable for me is the sociable part of it. A milonga is originally sociable environment par excellence even if in Europe you can see it sometimes used just like a place to practice sport. But the cradle of tango is a sociable space where if someone danced well, better or worse did not have such an importance. People were going to dance for meeting with friends and to get to know some new and nice people. This is the best aspect of tango in my opinion, that in every country and every culture you can meet with nice people. I believe that the best part of the human being is this one, the sociable one, knowing and staying in the contact with art and music, the embrace and with the opposite sex.
- Do you have any favorite music for your cortinas?
Yes, it is Argentinian rock that appeared as a consequence of the decline of tango in the 60s and 70s, it has lyrics that very well could be like the tango ones and with a musical fusion of all the styles that emerged in Argentina later on.
- What are you doing to relax when you finally have some free time?
In the society, what helps me to relax is to dance and keep the contact with music and art, the places that make me to stop thinking. One of my big issues is too many thoughts and negative thoughts and that is why I need to get rid of them from times to times. Another and one of the most spiritual activities that I enjoy is nature, when you go to the mountains or to the sea.
- My last question will be a little different. Since some time we hear various news coming from Argentina about closure of several important milongas in Buenos Aires. From this far it is quite difficult to understand what is really happening there. Could you offer us your opinion about the situation?
Tango is culturally very rich genre and it is still underrated for not being profitable enough. Milonga places do not earn enough so they do not pay much taxes and often have difficulties to keep up with the whole system of bureaucratic apparatus and inspections. The thing is that comparison is being made between clubs with thousand people who often use pyrotechnics and drugs with milongas where around thirty five people in embrace are dancing quietly. All these places are under the same regulations and this is what is not correct. Tango is something cultural that is supposed to be subsidized by the state but as we can see tango does still not possess enough political weight to be able to resist the closures. So it is a question of politics, power and money. We all who are engaging in tango put in practice the love for art and culture and this is something universal, not only Argentinian or ‘Porteno’ anymore. There were few of us ‘Portenos‘ but tango was brought out to all around the country and later on to the whole world. Now we can find tango in Europe, Middle East, America and Australia, you can dance tango everywhere so it became something worldwide. And I believe that we all together can protest for tango so that they will not closure us.
Thank you Gabriel for your time and sharing your valuable thoughts with us!