Paulina Spinoso: A Journey Through Tango’s Heart and History
Last night was a special night at Milonga at Abasto Hotel where I had a chance to meet and dance with Paulina Spinoso.
For those who aren't familiar with Paulina, she is a psychologist and professor of philosophy. She and her late husband, milonguero Alberto Dassieu, taught workshops and performed at festivals and events around the world. Their teaching style was known for its emphasis on the connection between partners and music, as well as the importance of dancing with heart. Their elegant, precise, and fluent movements, along with their meticulous musical interpretation, left a lasting impression on me.
You can watch a performance by them here:
After watching the documentary film, Tango Your Life, Paulina reached out to me and invited me to her book presentation event. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend as I am leaving Buenos Aires two days before her event. However, she was kind enough to gift me a copy of her new book, "Desde el recuerdo los vuelvo a ver. Semblanzas Tangueras," which roughly translates to "From memory, I see them again. Tango portraits."
I took the liberty of translating* the preface of the book and found many words and phrases that resonated with me. Can you guess which ones?
During my trip to Buenos Aires this time, I was approached by many dancers from different countries who shared their concerns about the state of tango in their respective homes. Many expressed that tango in their countries had become something different from what they found in Buenos Aires, with a focus on techniques, obsession with competitions, and a lack of knowledge about tango culture. I'm sure some Porteños/Porteñas feel the same at home.
I believe that those of us who love to enjoy tango by dancing with heart can promote it by educating ourselves about the history and traditions of tango, as well as sharing our knowledge with others. To that end, we need to support publications like Paulina's, which can fill the gap with her experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
If you're interested in Paulina's new book and her presentation event, here is her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/paulina.spinoso.1
PS: If you're not familiar with Paulina's work, I highly recommend checking it out.
“From the memory, I see them again. Tango portraits”
- Paulina Spinoso
"We are milongueros, we love tango and that is why we have created Resistencia Milonguera, a political and cultural group in defense of national and popular culture, especially tango." This is how the document begins with which our group announced its presence in 2018.
We organize milongas, talks, activities in neighborhoods and, during the pandemic, presentations by Zoom. We also participate in meetings with various groups that share similar concerns, including the National Tango Institute.
Meanwhile, a group of commemorators, which we called ourselves, began to publish our commemorations on Facebook and other media, on the occasion of the anniversary of the birth or death of some memorable tango artist. We worked together, but with the doing, roles were defined: Delia Aloisio designed the flyer (or whatever we want to call it - there was a lot of friendly discussion about the use of that Anglicism), I wrote the text, and Silvia Salvadores corrected it, selected the illustrative videos, and published all the material. To them, this book and I owe a lot.
Let's go then to the book: we didn't look for it, it found us. And we let it find us. That's why this publication.
The texts became longer and longer, the research more extensive and intense. The theme was diversified; not only to biograph and pay homage to the protagonist but also to establish connections with broader topics: gender issues, social and historical contexts, rhetorical resources, musical styles, philosophical matters, and debates on cultural politics, about what has come to be called the "cultural industry." The connection with the social phenomenon that we named "milonga" was unavoidable.
At the same time, tango was intertwined with sociological, psychoanalytic, and philosophical developments. Thus, our beloved names entered into conversation with those of Benjamin and Heidegger, Adorno and Freud, to name just a few.
Through friends and readers, the book called us: "This lends itself to a more stable format than the volatile one of social media."
We answered the call, and here it is. The commemorations became tributes. We did not order them by date but by the also arbitrary alphabet system. That will make it easier for anyone who wants to find their favorite artist in the index.
Not all are here, of course; the reader will encounter the injustice of this or that being missing. A sorrow we share. But if possible, there will be other volumes.
There is a concern that divides us in two: do young people know about Manzi, Discépolo? Do they know Mercedes Sosa, Atahualpa Yupanqui? Oh, we fear knowing the answer!
Our greatest desire was and our greatest success will be to bring these greats of tango into the present. The title that Delia Aloisio found in the lyrics of the tango by Homero Manzi and Aníbal Troilo, Barrio de tango, clearly states what we intend. Not just to remember them as something from the past, but to bring them to us as if we were seeing them, here, now.
There is a phrase circulating that we would like to appropriate: "Caring for tradition does not consist of preserving its ashes but of transmitting the flame."
Here it goes: From the memory, I see them again.
Aquí va: Desde el recuerdo los vuelvo a ver.
Online OCR, https://www.i2ocr.com/pdf-ocr-spanish#