The educated Tanguero

Essential Tango Knowledge

Help – A Song Request from the Audience !


As a DJ you are working really hard to play your playlist. What happens if one of the guests requests a certain song ?

Oops – that´s not a good moment right now !

Many DJs refuse to play song requests categorically (“I am a DJ and not a Jukebox!”). Some of them have a sign:

Requests:  Poema 20$, Paciencia 10$, all others 5$

Others react according to the personality of the requester (nice article here: I personallylike the idea of being asked nicely (all Tangueros and Tangueras are nice people – right ?).

So for me a request is more or less a professional challenge.

Here is my strategy, which can be broken down into 5 tasks:


1 – Identification and Verification

If I do not know the title immediately, a database query will be made first. To do this, I first set the current playlist on autocruise, or make sure that I’m at least 2-3 Tandas ahead in the planning. Thereafter, I start the search of the desired title in the database. Using the prelistening feature I ask the guest to identify the piece (headphones). This applies if the desired piece is actually available in the database. By database I mean here the amount of locally available pieces of music, which are stored and searchable in the database of the DJ program. If I do not have the title, I write down the info in any case, it could be a new and interesting CD. In this case, however, the public’s wish already failed in the very beginning.


2 – Classifikation according to Flavour and Danceability

Next step is a quick classification of the piece in terms of danceability. If this is not given, I will politely decline the request. For danceable pieces I try a rough classification according to flavor (hard rhythmic, soft rhythm, lyrical, drama), speed and instrumental / vocal.


3 – Search in my Tanda-Database

If the piece is in the Tanda database, then the next step is unnecessary. Constructing a Tanda during a Milonga is a piece of hard work that distracts me from the actual job and in this case I prefer to use an already existing and proven (?) Tanda.


4 – Creation of an „on the fly“ Tanda with the requested song.

If I do not have the song in the Tanda database, I probably do not get around the construction of an “on the fly” Tanda. This means that a tandem just quickly ripped together is certainly not perfect, but it does not have to be in this case.

Here I try to find suitable pieces of the same orchestra, and to put together a (at least halfway) matching Tanda. Assistance here are the speed information in the DJ program and the prelistening function.



5 – Integration of the new Tanda.

Now it is time to turn off the autocruise function and replace one of my planned tandas with the same flavor with the newly constructed tanda.

This process can be quick and easy or cost a little more time and effort. I have two examples:


A. A guest asks for „Fru-Fru“, but he doesn´t know the orchester.

Well, I know that. Frou-Frou (originally composed by Henri Chatau) is one of the most beautiful Valses, even if it was not composed in Argentina. The only recording I’ve got in my database is by Enrique Rodriguez and Roberto (“El Chato”) Flores from 1939 (unfortunately I do not have the Libertad Lamarque recording of the Orquesta Mario Murano from 1938 mentioned in Todotango, but we can listen to that on YouTube). You can now argue about the correct spelling. Where the name comes from is not quite sure, it is probably noisy for the rustling of women’s underwear around 1900 (see: Only humoristically it should be noted that the title has nothing to do with the Austrian dairy product:


Two clicks show me a matching Tanda in my database, which is then inserted to the great delight of the guest as the next Vals Tanda. By the way, the rest of the dancers did not suffer from this and I have again included two popular “evergreens”. Here is a part of my Tanda database in the category “Rodriguez / Vals”.

Interestingly, the other version of Fru-Fru by Libertad Lamarque seems to be from a movie. Here you can find the original from 1939 thanks to Youtube:


B – A guest asks for „Chique“

Oh, that’s easy, I thought. You can find this tango by Ricardo Brignolo (composed as early as 1920) in certainly a two-digit number of interpretations, my favorite version is that of Daniel Binelli. Unfortunately, this hope was deceptive. The demand was for the orchestra Fulvio Salamanca.

Oh dear, the orchestra is post-EDO and is not played so often. I have exactly two CDs of Salamanca in my database and fortunately Chique is there. The guest has also identified the piece of music so identification and verification are complete. The piece has a good danceable rhythm, only the bass solo in the middle is a bit strange to the tango-ears. My classification tends to be soft-rhythmic. Unfortunately, this piece is not included in my Tanda database (there’s actually no Salamanca tanda in there), so we’ll probably have to construct a tanda here. Now it’s time to sift through the material of Salamanca and construct a makeshift tanda. For the quick scan, I first notice the title “Bonboncito”, which seems to fit well with the easy-knit chique. But it is a vocalist song with Amando Guerrico as a singer, while Chique is purely instrumental. Nevertheless, I initially reserve the right to produce a mixed tanda. Other titles are “El Taita” and “Gallo Ciego”, although the latter has a slightly dramatic impact. After checking my playlist, I find out that this (frequently played) song does not appear in any other tanda and decide to take it as the last piece of the tanda with the idea to make the next tanda a dramatic one.

Which rules did I bend here? First of all, the rule of constructing either an instrumental or a vocal Tanda throughout. A conservative DJ would probably not have built “Gallo ciego” into that tanda. Alternatively, I had briefly thought about “Alma en pena”, but I liked that as a duo with different singers even less, so the Tanda shown here is certainly a compromise. In any case, it would have been even more problematic to include dramatic pieces such as “Adios Corazon” or very romantic titles such as “Vuelve amor”, they would not fit the more conservative “Chique”. Nota bene: How about a hyperromantic Tanda from Salamanca for one of the future milongas?

So that’s the resulting tanda, which was well accepted (people danced, no one complained or threw tomatoes at me) and now it’s in my Tanda database.






Finally spoken, I like to fulfill the audience’s wishes, because then I feel that I’m really a DJ and not just pushin the playlist forward.



-Richard (DJ Ricardo)

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