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The Organic Tango School
The Organic Tango Schoolwith Homer & Cristina
The Traditional & Alternative Tango DJ Resource Page:

Here you'll find a list of compiled and self-generated resources for both traditional and alternative dj'ing.  My main focus is how the two can live together in harmony!  Hugs, Homer ;)

1.)  Check out this free DJ presentation (downloadable PDF file) that I gave to the Perth Tango Club in 2010.  There are many pages of 'good ideas' about how to dj, including 2 pages of great 'dj resource' links (both traditional and alternative).

1.5)  Here's a Tango DJ 101 presentation (PDF file) that was used in a beginner DJ seminar at the first CalTech Tango Festival in Pasadena, April 2012.  It's a more streamlined & interactive version of item #1 above.

2.)  Here's an external webpage link to Project Tango's CELLspace DJ Guidelines.  The CELLspace 'alternative' Milonga was founded by the initial non-profit Project Tango board (John Chang, Susan Lee, and Homer Ladas) in 2003.  The Secret Tango Society (now mostly defunct) was also a major contributor (volunteer pool).  Our first milonga was on Wednesday, July 9th (Nuevo de Julio) following the night of a live Gotan Project concert in San Francisco.  As the resident dj for the first 1.5 years I learned a lot.  In time I started to invite other dj's to either co-dj with me in tandem or solo.  Some nights we would have sporting "DJ Battles" with 4 or more dj's.  Many things we did or played back then will most likely never be done again.  At the time, however, most of the dancers enjoyed the music no matter what we played.  Eventually, circa 2009, we settled on a formula which included playing one traditional set followed by one alternative set the whole night.  Project Tango continues to thrive with a large volunteer base and strong board.  Our goal for CELLspace is to keep it going, improving the current mixed music dj knowledge base, while encouraging, promoting, and supporting more live music functions for dancers.

2.4)  CELLspace DJ presentation (June 2014) used during our DJ Meet-Up.  March 2017 minor update.

2.5)  This is a CELLspace specific DJ mentoring presentation (May 2012) but contains some good generic info as well...

3.)  CELLspace example playlist from February 15, 2012:  This PDF file represents an evening at CELLspace.  It starts with pre-class alternative music (I also played a traditional Canaro set - which is not show on the attached PDF playlist file, sorry - right before the start of our two con-current classes) and then moves into a long D'Arienzo set (from 1935 to 1937) for the actual class music.  Afterwards is the tanda by tanda break down alternating between one alternative set and one traditional set for the rest of the night.  About 40% of the tandas were dedicated to the various dancers in attendance (not the usual thing, but more of a 'gentle joke' I do from time to time - especially when I know someone really likes certain music).  The cortina was the theme song to "So You Think You Can Dance" to highlight the 'break-time' performance we had of a tango couple (Mirabai and Diego) as a dry-run before their audition for said show.

4.)  This is a PDF file of a mostly traditional playlist from the Friday night Ann Arbor (January 2012) Fire & Ice festival.  The University Tango Club organizers ask me to add some alternative music into the traditional mix (about one 3-song alternative set every 5th tanda or so).  Here I kept the flow mostly to TTVTTM structure (read the above DJ presentation to understand the code).  I kept each set as cohesive as possible and substituted the appropriate alternative tanda as needed in the rotation.  There are a couple of notable deviations (maybe you can find them?).  I ended with an alternative song or two (not La Cumparsita) since there was a late night dance following my gig.

5.)  In March of 2012, Cristina and I supported USF (Tampa) for their first annual tango festival!  It was great fun.  Here's the playlist from the Sunday night mixed music closing milonga.  This was a last minute arrangement, and also I wanted to social dance a lot, so I put together mostly canned tandas from previous gigs (i.e. the cortina and several tandas came from the Ann Arbor playlist listed above).  Overall I spent about 20% of my time at the computer developing the flow and/or creating new song/tanda material.  The rest of the time I was on the floor dancing...  However, the real trick was creating a flow that worked for the Tampa crowd.  The right mix seemed to be one alternative set after every two traditional ones.  Note, I did not finish with La Cumparsita (by Donato) as listed (due to time constraints) but instead played the acapella version of I'm Yours/Somewhere over the Rainbow arrangement.  Also, thanks to Eric for the Latin set which came after one of the evening's 'breaks'.

6.)  Here's a PDF file of my Portland 2011 alternative milonga gig.  Note, I started the night after the first listed cortina (All I want is you). The music before that was not used...just extra scrap still that may be of interest to some folks. Also note that at the end of the night (after Mil Pasos - which I played for the second time upon request as the official alt milonga end song) I deviated from my normal order and from using Cortinas. The remaining songs were the unoffical gig after I announced the offical ending... Hugs, Homer

7.)  For comparison to item #2 above, here's a PDF file of my St. Louis 2011 alternative afternoon milonga gig.  The official event starts with the song Perfume.  The material before that is my scrap list (stuff I didn't get to use but was thinking about it).  Note,  I used the Portland playlist as the backbone, kept some things the same (like the cortina and many of the songs) and modified others (like song & tanda order).  The most useful thing to study here (for the budding alt tango DJ) is the tanda flow using different genres and rhythmic styles but with a cyclic re-occurance of themes (comparable to the tango, vals, and milonga flow of traditional dj'ing).

8.)  Tucson Tango Festival Alternative Milonga, March 2012 playlist.  This was one of my favorite completely alternative events to dj so far.  I was really surprised by the crowds' response.  Also, the sound system was great.  Momo Smitt did a great and live "Tango Rap" set interlude (just before the contemporary Tango Vals set, i.e. Romance De Barrio by Anibal Troilo).  The only unfortunate thing was the fact that I did not get to dance at all, since I was really DJing on the fly.  Enjoy!

9.)  Caltech Tango Festival Alternative Milonga playlist, April 2012.  Momo performed at the double cortina.

10.)  SMITH 3.0 alt milonga 2012 Sunday afternoon (with live set by Momo), May 2012.

11.)  Portland Tangofest, Friday evening alternative milonga, October 2012.*  This was a fun event with a mix of old school alternative and some new songs acquired throughout the year.  The last set was an unofficial extension of the event.  It was composed of three songs from SF based Chance's End new album "Down The Doors".  

*Personal note, there was a concurrent traditional milonga going on at the same time with one of my favorite DJs - Dan Boccia. I wish I could have been at both places at the same time... The curse of the DJ is that often times you can't dance while DJing. So this night I felt doubly cursed!

12.)  All-Nighter at The Beat in Berkeley, November 2012.  I must have spent 8 hours pre-viewing 'new' music, re-tagging, building tandas, etc.  In the end, I was able to dance a lot and (it appeared as if) most folks had a good time.  That said, I probably should have spent more time sitting down, watching, adjusting EQ, making a few more playlist changes...(see next item for continuation of thought).

13).  Orange Practica at The Beat in Berkeley, November 2012.  Two days after the all-nighter mentioned above (item #12), I also DJed at our regular practica.  Although I could have recycled material from the all-nighter, instead I created a mostly new playlist and DJed mostly on the fly.  Was still able to dance a little.  I felt this playlist had more energy and connected even better with the dancers (compared to the all-nighter gig).

14.)  CELLspace Black & White Theme Night with Old School Alternative mixed music, November 2012.  Two days after the Monday night gig (listed above, item #13), I DJed for our alt milonga.  We had a black and white theme night and the alternative music was supposed to be "Old School Alternative."  This meant alternative music played at CELLspace between 2003 and 2005.  It was a very fun night...and after preparing for about 6 hours before hand (cleaning up my entire collection of Old School Alternative music), I was able to mostly dance and have fun.

15.)  All-Nighter at The Beat in Berkeley, January 2013.  Probably my favorite all-nighter DJ gig to date.  The first long set was the class music.  DJed on the fly which I am starting to feel is better than over-preparing for hours before hand (see item #12).

16.)  CELLspace 02/06/2013 - One of my favorite solo DJ nights.  Introduced a couple of Dubstep tangos and tried to play some songs I normally don't play.  DJed on the fly (although pre-listened to many songs at home).

17.)  Valentango 2013 - Sunday afternoon mixed music milonga with live music by Alex Kreb's Contrabandoneon Orchestra.  The orchestra played for about 30 minutes after the mixed milonga set (OTV, Pelejero, Rodriguez).  They were great...

18.)  Orange Practica at The Beat in Berkeley, March 4th, 2013.  I included my song list for the class before hand (Rafael Canaro).  This was one of my favorite DJ gigs.  I DJed on the fly and chose songs that I have not played in a while (or that I don't play often enough and probably should).  I was also able to dance a lot since The Beat is my home base and I feel relatively comfortable doing so.  Normally I spend most of my time sitting or doing the DJ walk, watching, planning, adjusting EQ and volume, etc.

19.)  Tucson Alternative 2013 - Sunday night at the Tucson Tango Festival.  Another great experience (See Tucson 2012 above, item #8).  This is a great list to compare to the aforementioned Tucson playlist.  Momo performed again (marked by double cortina entry).

20.)  The CELLspace alternative Milonga at Inner Mission, SF, April 17th, 2013.  This was a solo gig for me.  I broke a rule or two (played 4 alternative songs in a row instead of the standard 3).  I've been asking folks what they'd like to hear (taking requests) more often and trying to accommodate them if possible...or at least getting ideas for what to play next.

21.)  Another CELLspace playlist (from June 19th, 2013) featuring Otros Aires and their new album (#4).  I spent five hours on this playlist so then I could just dance (or mostly dance).  I think some folks really enjoyed the night and some not so much.  A good friend gave me a "B" grade while another friend asked me for the playlist...  This is a general rule of DJing that states that when one person really likes your music someone else does not.  You can never win.  But I'm ok with that.  And, I did have a lot of fun dancing to music that I wanted to dance too.

22.)  Here's a CELLspace playlist (from June 24th 2013) from my friend and fellow DJ extra-ordinaire Thomas.  I enjoyed dancing to his music very much.  If you'd like to contact Thomas please email me your request...

23.)  Denver 2013 Labor Day Tango Festival - Alternative Milonga...  Fun Fun Fun!!!

24.)  All-Nighter at The Beat - Saturday, January 25th, 2014.  Note, the first 8 songs (D'Arienzo) were part of the class music selection.  The milonga started with the late Di Sarli tanda which followed.

25.)  Portland's Sunday alt Milonga (February 16th, 2014) with live music from Alex Kreb's Contrabandoneon orchestra (also featuring Momo on vocals).  Alex's group rocked...  They played one long live set between the double listed cortinas.

26.)  CELLspace 02/19/14 - DJed on the fly and tried to play some stuff I had not played recently.  I mostly sat and watched the dancers trying to figure out if they were getting into the music or not.  Level of talking was good indicator.  I did dance to the Momo Smitt set early on.  He was kind enough to email me his "Ocho Cortado Me" song right before the event.  Thanks Momo!

27.)  CELLspace 03/26/14 - This was DJ Israel's first CELLspace alternative Milonga gig.  I personally enjoyed it...however, as always, the night was received with mixed reviews.  We look forward to continued DJ gigs from Israel.

28.)  Portland's Tangofest 2014 alternative afternoon milonga.

29.)  All-Nighter at The Beat in Berkeley, October 25th, 2014.  Ironically, I spent two hours prepping a playlist before the all-nighter expecting to make many changes as the night went forward.  My normal DJ style for the past few years has been to create the playlist on the fly.  However, I let the playlist role as-is and kept receiving positive comments from the dancers.  In the end I made almost no changes.  This is not something that I will rely on in future DJ gigs but it was definitely an experience perhaps with some luck and other factors thrown in.  At least I was able to dance more than usual.

30.)  Albuquerque 2014  tango festival  - alternative afternoon milonga.  Similar to the recent Portland playlist (item #28 above) but with a few changes to better suit the crowd and time constraints, etc.

31.)  Ashland's Connect Tango Festival 2014 - Afternoon 50/50 Milonga.  I played some new stuff I have never played before (thanks mostly to ASU's alt DJ Daniel).  Mostly well received thanks to the great attitude of all the dancers in attendance and our host Momo.

32.)  San Diego's NYE tango festival 2015 - Saturday Alternative milonga.  This was a fun event...first time DJing from my new high end RazorBlade2014 laptop while previewing (alittle bit) via my old Macbook Air.  The RazorBlade has a really nice sound card but it's heavy so have to decide when to use it again...

33.)  Special Guest DJ Una's mixed music playlist from CELLspace on February 11th, 2015.  I enjoyed dancing to Una's music and hope to have her back at CELLspace in the not too distant future!

34.)  DJing the Alternative Milonga at the Tucson Tango Festival in April 2015 was a great experience (nice energy and super sound system).  Cristina was my secret weapon.  She gave me a list of new music of which several songs were incorporated into the on-the-fly playlist.

35.)  CELLspace alternative Milonga on April 29th, 2015.  This was my final DJ gig at the Inner Mission space in SF.  I DJed on the fly and tried to incorporate some thematic/historical elements (at least in the first hour).  We continued for an extra 30 minutes past our normal closing time.  Although it's not listed, the final song (following Di Sarli's La Capilla Blanca) was a cover of 'Chandelier' by Kina Grannis (

36.)  Albuquerque Tango Festival afternoon alternative Milonga 2015.  Another fun event.  I DJed on the fly, most of the time just one tanda or less ahead of myself.  A few new songs compared to last year's event (item #30 above).

37.)  Ashland 2015 Tango Connect's Sunday alternative milonga!  I really enjoyed DJ'ing at this event.

38.)  2016 Alternative Favorites List  This is a compilation of my most used alternative and/or favorite songs that I commonly refer to as my Old School Alternative.  In other words, most of these songs have been well vetted at various events I have DJed them at.  That said, it's still important for the individual DJ to decide if the song and set order is appropriate for their event and/or instance/moment.

39.)  We have a relatively new event that is 100% alternative music, shoes optional, and gender neutral (everyone leads/follows).  Here's a sample playlist from guest DJ, Vicky Yang, during the supervised practica which follows our all-level class.

If you have additional ideas of what you'd like to see here please email Homer ;)
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