Working as a DJ : Marcelo Rojas’s tango 2/3

“What is important to me is that people can have fun and that there are as many people as possible on the dance floor. That people dance well or bad don’t really interest me. The milonga has to be like a party!”

First part of the interview to be read here.

Working as a DJ: Rojas’s tango.

“I was born in the very tanguero area of La Boca. Here we often say that the tango awaits you. 
And when the tango entered my life by chance, it was the perfect moment. Growing up in a tango neighbourhood, I experienced many fortuitous situations that moved me closer to the tango. I started working at the bar of a milonga 25 years ago. At the time I was also a DJ for other styles of music, exclusively for my friends. Nothing to do with the tango. One day the manager at the milonga got into a fight with the DJ who just up and left. There were tango cassettes and I proposed to play them for the milonga. The tangueros helped me a lot, explaining to me what music was best for listening, and what was best for dancing…And I kept learning. I’ve always had a lot of respect for dancers and they for me. I wanted to offer them something. I continued and found myself traveling all over the world for the tango!”

Musicalizing”, a state of constant renewal. A milonga must be a celebration

“The tango is linked to passion and taste. I try to adapt so that everyone can have a good time. Not being a dancer myself, I have a certain advantage, first, because I don’t play music to satisfy my own desire to dance but, above all, because it allows me to observe a lot. Observing what is going on, absolutely everything, really helps me. I watch how people behave, if there are more women than men, what is the average age of the women, and if there are many of them seated, why aren’t they dancing? Are the men dancing poorly…?
I imagine different scenarios to help me to “musicalize” on the spot. I never prepare in advance the music that I will play in a milonga. Not having the desire to dance myself makes things much easier. I am more attentive to what is going, I ask myself if it is warm or cold, and it will have an impact on my choice of themes and rhythms.
If there are fewer men than women, I protect the men so that they can dance as long as possible and invite as many women as possible. If there are a lot of women, I look at their legs: what kind of heels are they wearing, for instance. If they are low, they probably don’t dance very often or they are beginners who would feel more confident if I played the music that they hear in class… All of that! What is important to me is that people have fun and that there are as many people as possible on the dance floor. That people dance well or poorly don’t really interest me. That is the concern of the maestros. My concern is to have people dancing. Sometimes I see everyone sitting at tables and one by one they stand up to dance. I take much joy in this as it leads me to believe that I’m doing a good job.

(Sometimes people like to simply listen to music): yes, for me it is also a luxury to be able to look at the expressions on people’s faces as they are listening to the tango. I make sure that they are having a good time. I place myself at their service, because for me the milonga is a celebration that everyone must be a part of, even beginners or those who don’t dance. I am not a DJ for dancers, but instead a DJ for all. At least that is my objective. I want to awaken sensations thanks to nice music and perhaps give some the desire to learn how to dance. Sometimes I am in front of an audience who knows very little about the tango so I play with other kinds of music during cortinas to show that the tango can be open to many other things.

I am not closed to any kind of music. I can play the tango but also cumbia or rock or salsa or pop. 
If I see that people are having fun, I let the music continue and don’t change it rapidly to play the tango. I want people to forget about their problems during the milonga, to amuse themselves. I can’t predict tastes so I wait to feel the place and the dance floor. I wait to meet people so that I can give them something that will move them. I can’t come to a place saying, “This is the tango, this is the culture of the tango”. When I come to a milonga, I first appropriate the culture of the place. If I go to Toulouse where you used to live, I will first look at how Toulousians are and I will adapt myself to offer them something that they will understand, that will be coherent for them and please them. I do not go to impose what I have decided. This is the way I am, wherever I am in the world. The milonga is a celebration and I think that in the 1940s it was a place of entertainment.”

Last part of the interview coming soon!

Photo By: Cristina Peccioli
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