Tango Festival in Berlin

The Philharmonic Hall in Berlin, near metro station Potsdamer platz,

will be the setting for The Berlin Easter Tango Festival – a homage to the popular Argentinian style of music which has widely influenced the worlds of literature, theatre and art. The concert takes place on the 23rd of August, with performances from German orchestras and invited Argentinian artists.

tango festival berlin @ Potsdamer Platz

 

 

The festival hopes to satisfy an increasing interest in tango throughout Europe, where countless bars and clubs are playing host to musicians performing both classic and experimental styles of the genre. The Berlin festival is placing special emphasis on neo-tango, the new sounds which mix jazz and classical in an effort to attract fans of tango, young and old alike.

The sophistication and the development of tango music and dance is the theme of this marvellous festival, along with participation from Cantango Berlin and Buenos Aires Tangomasterdancers orchestras, and dancers Ester Duarte & Chiche Nuñez and Federico Farfaro & Liesl Bourke.

Tango was born around the end of the 19th century, amongst poor European emigrants in search of a better life in Buenos Aires. It was this illusion of a better life, coupled with the nostalgia for the old continent which would create the chemistry, and key to tango culture.

Tango is from the souls of the working classes, who would lament their bad luck through nostalgic guitar music. The words to the songs reveal a strong social spirit, and a passionate reaction to injustice.

In 1889, The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language recognised the work Tango, defining it as “the celebration and dance of the blacks.” 100 years later, due to its enormous popularity and influence on the arts, the definition changed to “Argentinian dance between two people, binary musical form, internationally known.”
Strangely enough, tango arrived first at the dance halls of Europe and North America, before reaching Argentina. The young Argentinian bourgeoisie would go down to the slums to meet women – and from their travels to Europe and the States would bring back the music which has been prohibited. In Paris society, tango provoked a frenzy, and it became all the rage in the 1920s.

Today the classic beat of 2×4 has been reinvented and reinterpreted many times, and many new instruments and sounds have been added – such as with fusion group Gotan Project. However, figures such as Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzola continue to be the great icons of tango, with the first representing the macho, sexual side to tango iconography, and the latter famous for mixing the classic European style with the Argentinian passion.

Olympiastadion

Although during its life it enjoyed fame and prestige comparable to those of writers of its time like Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway or Faulkner – who said hello to him as if he was probably the writer with the most talent of that generation – in whose celebrity the passing of time has hardly left a mark, what’s true is that for a few decades, despite a growing appreciation on behalf of the specialized critics that the increase that its work had on authors like Kerouac, Bradbury or Philip Roth, that the long ambitious books of Thomas Wolfe, dead prematurely before the age of 38 due to brain tuberculosis, have stopped being known outside certain select circles of exquisite palates.

Olympiastadion Berlin
 

As its reflected in his posthumous novel You Can’t Go Home Again, Wolfe passed most of the 30s in Berlin, a city that he adored, specifically until he found unbearable the growing persecution of the Jewish people by Nazi authorities, a policy that he reported in 1937 in the story I Have a Thing to Tell You, which won him the prohibition of his books in Germany, whose territory didn’t allow him entry from then on – he died a year later haunted by the memories of the place where he had managed to foresee happiness.

One of the most famous landscapes of You Can’t Go Home Again, idiomatic phrase that has become part of American language, was that in which he described the Olympic Games celebrated in the German capital in the summer of 1936, immortalized by the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in his extraordinary and monumental film Olympia, in whose over four hours of duration they anticipate and prefigure a large part of the defining characteristics of the following television broadcasts of the Olympics.

Specifically, what’s striking is the way in which Wolfe refers to the impressive Olympic Stadium, or Olympiastadion, (http://www.olympiastadion-berlin.de) designed for the occasion by the architect Werner March, which faced by the contemplation of the narrator of the novel one has the imposing and majestic feeling of the unfolding of flags and Nazi symbols, of finding himself in front of the battle tent of a great emperor. Wolfe clearly perceived, despite that to avoid the boycott of the United States and other countries, the Nazi authorities eliminated the antisemitic signs from the media (they even included two athletes of partially hebrew blood in the men’s team) and they hid the expulsion of all the gypsies in Berlin, that what was going on there was far from just the games.

A reliable proof of that is the construction of the stadium and the colossal sporting complex, the Reichsportfeld or Reich’s Sports Fields, where one signed up, which you access it through two giant tower of 36 metres each, which today still hold the Olympic arches.