Saturday, 16 November 2013

The Kiss

Yesterday. A sunny and warm afternoon in Lisbon. I was sitting outside a cafe, waiting for my lunch to arrive and - as so often nowadays - texting with my beloved...

... when a pair of arms embraced me from behind and a soft kiss was placed on my cheek.

I finished the sentence and looked up. It was a lovely swedish dancer accompanied by a slovenian friend who lives in France. They sat down and she noticed upon how calm I had stayed in the moment that she kissed me: I was not startled, I did not even stir. She found this remarkable.

And it got me thinking.

Should I not at least show some reaction of surprise when I am sitting all on my own in a town that I have never been to before and someone suddenly kisses me? But, no. This is what Tango life does to you. It changes your perception of strange places and people. 

In the last year - since Detlef and I split up in our private lives, I‘ve been traveling a lot on my own, either to meet someone or for work, joining my dance-partner at the venue or in the hotel. I spent a lot of time alone in trains, planes, walking through cities, taking meal in restaurants... Just normal life stuff that I had been mostly doing as a couple for many years.

I never felt lonely.

Because I knew that there would be friends or Tango wherever I arrive. Walking through a strange city feels different, when you know that there are Tango people all over the place. You will never be surprised to meet someone you know in the streets or in a café. You don‘t even have to spend a lot of time with the Tangueros - it is enough to know that they are there, to create this feeling of „being at home and at ease“ wherever you are. Well, this is how it works for me anyway. Call me a romantic, but I see this as one of the most beautiful qualities of our international Tango community.

And a couple of weeks ago, I could even feel at home in my home town. 

As you may know, I do not spend a lot of time in Saarbruecken and when I go out during the day, I will rarely meet someone I know. My non-tango-friends work all day and I will only see them when we agree upon a date. As I have not been visiting local Milongas for many years, I don‘t have any close Tango acquaintances. So I often feel like a veritable stranger in the town where I live. This is actually the huge downside of the life as a traveling Tango teacher. You totally get out of touch with your home town. But a few weeks ago it was different. We were having our annual „Festivalito con Amigos“ and friends from all over the world joined us. I met them in the streets, in a restaurant, in a store - wherever I went, they where.

I was not a stranger anymore.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Festivalitos & Encuentros Milongueros 2014

In 2013, there has been an explosion of so-called Encuentros or Festivalitos Milongueros. So, those who love social Tango in a close embrace can nowadays chose amongst several options per month. Funnily, most events have still been sold out, so the demand seems to have increased as well. I have not been to all Encuentros, so I will only list those, that I have visited personally or that are organised or visited by people, whom I know personally and who can vouch for the genuine "milongueroness" of an event. 
Some dates have not yet been set, but I will update this list regularly. Organisers, please send me your dates, as soon as you've got them.

Festivalito Milonguero du nouvel an, Embrun, France, January 2-5
Pasionara Milonguera, Côte D'Azur, France, January 24-26
Encontro Milongueiro A Promotora, Lisbon, Portugal, February 6-9
RDV Milonguero, Bologna, Italy, February 13-16
Mirame - Encuentro Milonguero, Montpellier, France
Viento Norte - Festivalito Milonguero (Tangokombinat Sección Norte), Eckernförde, Germany, March, 7-9 
Encuentro MiLYONguero, Lyon, France, March 28-30
Yo soy Milonguero, Crema, Italy, April 18-21  (read review)
Montecatini Terme Tango Festivalito, Montecatini, Italy, April 11-13 (read review)
Abrazos - Encuentro Milonguero (Tangokombinat UK), Devon, United Kingdom, May 2-4 (read review)
Raduno Rural, Slovenia (read review by Ms. Hedhehog), June 20-22
Les Cigales, France,  (read review by Ms. Hedgehog)
Festiv'à La Milonguita, Gap, France, July 3-6
Dans tes bras, Paris, France, July 11-13
Embrace Norway, Lillehammer, Norway, July 4-6
Stockholm in a close embrace, Stockholm, Sweden, August 1-3
Festivalito Porteño, Constanta, Romania, August 7-10
La Franteña, France, August 14-17 (invitation only)
Silueta Porteña, Hamburg, Germany, August 29-31 (NEW!)
Festivalito Rural, Verzej, Slovenia, August 29-31 (read review) (NEW LOCATION!)
Encuentro Milonguero, Kehl, Germany, September 
Encuentro una Mirada, Bristol, England, September 26-28 (NEW!)
Ensueños, Porto, Portugal, October 3-5
FCA (Tangokombinat, private party)
Raduno Milonguero, Impruneta, Italy, around November 1
Te Quiero Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal, November 14-17
Abrazame, Barcelona, Spain, December (I guess there WILL be another edition)

In case that you don't know, what a Festivalito or Encuentro Milonguero is, please check out MsHedgehog's blog. She describes the general features and gives lots of useful tips.

And, as I have been asked repeatedly. These are my criteria for taking an event into this list:
- close embrace Tango with focus on quality of dance and not quantity of moves
- traditional music in Tandas and with Cortinas presented by DJs who know their trade
- invitations in general done by Mirada & Cabeceo
- a setup that allows for Mirada & Cabeceo (appropriate light and seating arrangements) 
- social dancing with respect to the ronda and the other couples 
- equal number of leaders & followers
- in case there is a demo: short, social dance in close embrace, no choreographies
- in case there are classes: social dance only
- duration of event: minimum 3 days
- separate Milongas (no non-stop dancing as in a Marathon)
- no live music during the Milongas
There are numerous local Milongas or more local Festivalitos which might fit to some (but not all) of the criteria, but it is not my goal to give an overview of the whole "traditional" Tango scene.The above mentioned events are of international reputation and will adhere to all the requirements.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Les Allemands

Oui. J‘écris un article en français. Je sais que mon français est une catastrophe, mais la plupart des Français n‘aime ou ne parle pas l‘anglais. Donc, pour adresser nos amis Tangueros français et spécialement ceux dans la région Nimes et Montpellier, je dois utiliser votre langue. Pardonnez-moi, si je la distords.

Et, Detlef: dis-mois pas encore que je fais mal à notre réputation avec mon utilisation fautive du français. Tu dors encore et c‘est mon blog. ;-)

Alors... Je veux vous parler de votre perception de nous et nos groupes stagiaires dans le sud de la France. Au moins je veux commencer avec ça.

Depuis 2005, nous organisent des stages intensives dans le midi, près de Nimes et Montpellier. Pendant tout ces ans, on a visité des milongas dans la région, on a organisé des milongas pour vous, on a dansé avec les Tangueros, on a fait des amis... On est retourné souvent dans la région pour le plaisir, pour fêter le nouvel an, pour danser à des rencontres.... On a visité les premiers éditions de Les Cigales et le festival à Caromb... On a témoigné des manifestations merveilleuses et des développements mois beaux: les „guerres“ entre les organisateurs, une certaine perte des „codes“ sur la piste et concernant les invitations... Mais c‘est pas ça, que je veux discuter ici...

Le premier an, qu‘on a visité le Midi, tout nos stagiaires étaient des Suisses et des Allemands. Mais pendant les années suivants, ça a changé beaucoup. On a introduit des danseurs de partout à votre belle région: des Anglais, des Autrichiens, des danseurs du Pays-Bas, de la Slovénie et de la Roumanie, des tangueros de presque tout les pays de la Scandinavie, de l‘Espagne, de l‘Italie, des Etats-Unis et aussi de autres régions de la France. Nos groupes sont toujours très internationaux et dans certains ans, presque la moitié des stagiaires étaient des Français! 
Dans certains groupes on a du utiliser 3-4 différents langues, la langue française et toujours une de eux. Certaines groupes étaient enseignés que en anglais, mais depuis ce premier an, on a jamais pu enseigner que en allemand. Les stagiaires se soient plaints. (aiaiai... je suis pas sûre, si cette forme du verbe est correcte.. tant pis.)

Pourquoi est-ce que je parle de ça:
Chaque fois, qu‘on visite, il-y-a des organisateurs et des danseurs dans les Milongas qui nous parlent ou annoncent comme „Detlef et Melina avec leur groupe des Allemands“. POURQUOI?

Ok, parfois les danseurs de langue allemande sont la majorité dans une groupe. Ca vient du fait, que le concept des „voyages“ Tango était développé originalement en Allemagne et est donc plus populaire entre les Tangueros de langue allemande. En plus, les voyages Tango sont pas „low cost“ et le pouvoir d‘achat des Allemands, Suisses et peut-être aussi des Autrichiens est plus grand que celui-ci des autres Européens. Désolée...

Mais souveniez-vous, mesdames et messieurs du Midi... vous avez dansés avec les stagiaires de nos groupes... vous avez passés des soirées agréables dans les „Mas“ et dans vos Milongas ensembles. Vous avez rencontrés des danseurs de tout l‘Europe dans nos groupes. De où vient cette idée que se sont que des Allemands? 

Peut-être c‘est l‘habitude? Nombreux des Allemands font des „voyages Tango“ vers les pays du sud et les danseurs du Midi rencontrent beaucoup des groupes entièrement allemands - avec des autres organisateurs.

Mais pas chez nous.

Comment est-ce que vous pensez, que nos stagiaires se sentent, si vous les assimilez tous dans le peuple Allemand? Déjà les Suisses et Autrichiens vont être irrités, car ils sont pas des Allemands! Et alors pensez des danseurs d‘autres nationalités: ils l‘aimeront même moins. Demandez un Italien, s‘il serait heureux d‘être appelé allemand, spécialement depuis la crise du Euro...

La prochaine fois, qu‘on serait dans la région Nimes, ça va être fin septembre avec un groupe composé entièrement des Français: notre formation française pour profs de Tango. 

Je vous en pris de les pas appeler „les Allemands“. Ok?


Je suis pas encore finis. J veux m‘adresses aussi à nos amis français en général.

Je vous en pris: Demandez-nous pas trop des questions concernant le Tango en Allemagne. Demandez-nous pas de „nos élevés“ „chez nous“, en Allemagne. Et surtout:  ne me demandez pas du Tango à Berlin. Pourquoi pas?

Avant 2007, il-y-avait une période ou on a enseigné des cours hebdomadaires dans notre région... mais... notre région, ça inclut la France et Luxembourg. On habite a 2 kilomètres distance de la France. L‘endroit où on a travaillé le plus souvent et le plus longue temps était Metz. Lá on a donné les cours réguliers pendant 5 ans. 
Donc, quand on a organisé des milongas dans notre région, parfois 50% des tangueros étaient des Français et Luxembourgeois.
En 2007 on a abandonné les cours hebdomadaires et depuis ce moment, on fait que des stages de weekend et des semaines intensifs en voyageant à un autre ville ou pays chaque semaine. Nos premiers stages de weekend s‘on passées en France: à Nancy, à Lyon, à Alès... de là, nos connections internationaux s‘ont développé de petit à petit.
La statistique est la suivante: de 215 engagements d‘enseignement depuis 2007, 40 s‘on passés en Allemagne, 80 en France et le reste dans des autres pays en Europe et aux États-Unis. 
Dans ma liste de diffusion, j‘ai environ 4700 tangueros, dont 1575 parlent français (ça inclut un très petite groupe des Belges et des Suisses de la région Genève) et 1124 parlent allemand (ça inclut un très grande groupe des Suisses allemands et des Autrichiens). Le fait, que nous avons pas encore plus des adresses françaises vient du fait, que en France c‘est l‘habitude, que des couple mariés me donnent que une adresse email, en Allemagne chacun s‘inscrit normalement indépendamment.
Et si je analyse nos voyages non-travaillants: On a visité nombreux rencontres milongueros et festivals français et presque aucun en Allemagne. Je me souviens de 2 ou trois rencontres en Allemagne depuis 2007. La dernière fois que j‘ai visitée Berlin était début 2001, mais j‘étais sûrement une centaine de fois à Paris... ok... souvent pour changer le train en direction Bretagne... ;-)

Et ne me dites pas que cette énumération des chiffres et statistiques est très allemande. C‘est justement compulsive! ;-)

Les faits sont:
- On connait plus des tangueros français que des danseurs d‘une autre nationalité.
- Le groupe plus grande de nos clients se sont des Français.
- Le pays où on passé le plus temps pour travailler et danser, c‘est la France. 

La langue que je utilise le plus souvent, c‘est l‘anglais, mais parfois, j‘ai commencée a rêver en français. Ca m‘a fait pas beaucoup de plaisir, parce que je ne le parle assez bien pour exprimer des pensées complexes a dehors du Tango... 

Mais j‘essaye.... 

To everyone else: Some of this goes for dancers of other nationalities as well, especially the last part, where I ask my readers to not assume that I will be able to tell you everything about the Milongas in Berlin just because I am german. 
But I won‘t repeat it in english. I think the numbers speak for themselves - don‘t they?
And do no worry... my next rant will be in english, as usual. ;-)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Teaching Musicality - A Primary Mission

Let me start my post with a very typical situation, that Detlef and I experience almost every teaching weekend:

It is early afternoon. We have been doing one of our musicality classes. ...

(During most gigs will do at least two classes focussing on different aspects of music depending on the level of the participants or depending on how often we been teaching in that place. On a first visit, we usually offer two basic classes, like „Caminar el compás y la pausa“ or „Cadencia - dance the musical phrase“. If we go to a place repeatedly, we will chose more advanced classes on Rhythm & Syncopation, Melody, Expression & Dynamics or classes on special orchestras. And then of course there are special workshops on Vals or Milonga musicality.... 
In our musicality workshops, we listen to music, analyse it and move to it alone and with a partner. You will never learn a step, as the musical principles will always be applied in the most simple form of movement, the Caminar, to not distract from the primary goal or set additional obstacles for the dancers.
Out of the 57 pre-defined classes in our catalogue, 14 belong into the category of pure musicality classes. Almost one fourth.
Ok... you get it. We give a rather high importance to musicality. Excuse my excursion and self-praise.)


Back to that frequently occurring situation.
We have given one of our musicality classes, most likely a rather basic one, and a class participant will approach us. Very often that will be someone who took the class rather reluctantly, considering himself as an „advanced“ dancer, who does not need this kind of „beginners“ instruction. This is what he or she will say, often accompanied by a disturbed expression, sometimes with tears in the eyes: 

„Oh my god, I have been dancing Tango for 5 (insert every imaginable number up to 20) years with so many teachers and no-one has ever explained this to me! I have never had a class on different walking speeds (rhythms, syncopation, dynamics, phrasing... insert any musical topic of our canon) in my entire Tango life!“

„What? Yo have been dancing Tango for more than X years and you have never heard about these musical principles. What have you been doing in your classes?“, says I.

„Well... steps mostly...“

„Oh.“ (Me, exhibiting a sad or shocked face.)


Now we already know, that basic technique is still very much neglected in Tango classes, but musicality obviously is completely forgotten by a multitude of teachers. Or it is taught by giving instructions like: „Use these steps for D‘Arienzo, use those for Di Sarli“. Or: „Walk during the first part, start turning in part two“. Or, even worse: „This step has a quick-quick-slow in positions 6,7 and 8“. All these assignments do not explain some underlying musical principle, but just tell you to apply a rhythmical pattern or musical means of expression in a very schematic way. They will not enable a dancer to improvise in harmony with the music.

This lack of musical instruction explains what we see in Milongas everywhere: Quite virtuous dancers, who may even have a good technique or nice embrace, but often being either totally disconnected to the music or using their patterns in such a automatic way, that (having videotaped them) you could remove the audio track from the file and underlay it with another Tango of the same length and speed. It would look exactly the same.

Is this not sad and should it not motivate all Tango-instructors to focus more on musicality?

In my opinion, dancers of different levels could be taught at least the following musical basics:
  • Beginners: different walking speeds, pauses, connecting to the musical phrase in a regular Tango
  • Intermediate dancers: using different rhythmical patters (In Tango, Vals and Milonga) freely in their movements
  • Advanced dancers: different walking dynamics, connecting to the melody on a higher level, distinguishing different orchestras and general styles, irregular phrasing... 
... and there is no end to what you can do with talented and interested dancers!

My partner Detlef and I are on a constant and ongoing journey of discovery when it comes to musicality. I guess, very few dancers (who are not also full-blown Tango-musicians) will ever grasp the entire scope of musical expression in Tango. But dancing social Tango means „moving with a partner to Tango-music“. This defines the four different fields of skills that should be taught in Tango classes. It is basically about connection: How to connect to your own body, your partner, the music and the other dancers in the Ronda.  So, musicality could make at least one fourth of the teaching content. 

If you don‘t have the necessary knowledge to teach your students how to listen to the music or express it in their dance with simple means - please take seminars with musicians, good DJs or other teachers. Do not think, that you are above advanced training, just because you know how to do a Giro with Enrosque or a perfect Colgada. All those fancy steps are worth zero, if danced in a musical void.

One last word when it comes to musicality: Many ladies seem to think, that it is exclusively the leader‘s job and all they have to do is to fill the gaps with Adornos. No, no, no! Even decorations have to be connected to the music, but if you really want to dance - and not just follow - you will have to know the music as well as your partner. In my ideal world, it is not one person leading the other into steps to the music, but the music guiding two dancers who move as one body!

Then we are in Tango heaven.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Divide And Rule

Again, I have not been writing for a couple of months. This has not been due to a shortage of topics, but for the lack of time and energy. There was just so much life happening... Good and not so good things, definitely important changes. But now I am back on track and can resume my role as a professional ranter and complainer. ;-)

This time, I want to write about a seating arrangement that is used in some traditional Milongas in Buenos Ares and that is riding the wave of the Encuentro movement in Europe.

I am talking about the separation of women and men at Milongas. In this setting, men are seated along one side of a Milonga, women on the opposite side, ideally each forming a single row of chairs and tables all facing to the dancefloor, in some cases two or three rows. Couples or groups of friends are usually placed on the shorter sides of a rectangular venue, very often in a cluster of tables. 
So, if you enter such a Milonga with a friend of the opposite sex, you will have to decide, if you want to sit with him in the couples section and therefore risk not being invited or if you split up and be seated in the women‘s and men‘s section and stare at each other from the others sides of the room.

Where does this custom come from? 
As mentioned above, it is used in some (by far not all) traditional Milongas. Some say that it is based on the assumption, that (married or engaged) couples will only want to dance with each other, whilst single men and women are open to invitation by strangers. In the past, it was obviously also considered as dishonourable to invite the woman of another men. Well.... tempus fugit, I really cannot say, if Argentine society is still attached to these ancient codes of behaviour, but they have surely survived in some Milongas. There are also other interpretations of how and when this custom was introduced, but who can really tell. It depends on who you ask when and where. ;-)

Whatever the history may be - this seating arrangement has made it‘s way to Europe and is used in some regular Milongas as well as a few (by far not all) Milonguero Encuentros. 
And as Europeans do not share this rather antique code of honour and don't have a tradition of Tango culture, the argument to adopt this custom is usually the facilitation of Mirada and Cabeceo: As all your eligible partners will be seated opposite of you, it should be easier to use the traditional form of invitation.

Only... it is not.

In the ideal setting (with only one row of seats) and for some short moments, this may be the case, but in general, the separate seating even complicates the Cabeceo.

Why so?

1. The risk of mistakes is raised. Just imagine: If a woman is seated in between two male friends, she can almost be 100% sure, that the cute guy who is looking in her direction really wants to invite her - and not her boyfriend.
If she is seated in a close row of other women... who can really tell? Especially if the room is a little bigger or if you don‘t have eagles eyes. Same situation for men: How often have I seen two men get up at the same time, because I cabeceo‘ed one of them. This does happen only very seldom in a mixed-seated environment.

2. If there are more than one rows, the people in the second or third row have got very little chance to be invited. As long as you are seated in mixed tables around the dancefloor, there will be always someone in your direct line of sight, because you can invite in all directions. If you can only look into one direction and are covered by one or two front rows... Good luck to you!

3. From the moment on, that people start dancing, you cannot see the opposite rows of seats anymore. Again: if there are eligible partners on your side of the dancefloor, an invitation by Cabeceo is still possible even after the Tanda started. But try inviting someone who is covered by moving dancers ... well... I have done it several times, but it involved not only heavy staring but also absurd swaying movements or actual gesticulating. This is not very dignified.
One result is, that people are very hectic at the start of the Tanda, as they've got only a couple of seconds to chose a partner. Spend one moment too long considering with whom you mifgt want to dance this lovely Di Sarli Tanda and you've lost.

So, even if you have not yet experienced such a seating arrangement, you can imagine, that having a good seat is crucial in such a setting, much more than in any other arrangement. In the few traditional Milongas of BA who use this seating, the organiser will assign chairs to the visitors. Very often, regulars or famous dancers get the good seats, newcomers are put in the second row or at the far ends. You can imagine that this gives the host an immense power and if that person does not like you ... you better stay at home!

I was once seated in an overflow women‘s row behind a cluster of mixed tables at Cachirulo. Mind you, there were still places in the front row on the women‘s side, but they were reserved for the habitués. Detlef and our friend Antonio (a regular at that Milonga) got the perfect seats in the men‘s row. Well obviously, Norma did not like me.... When I became aware of my situation (sometimes being a little slow on the intake), I decided to leave and would only stay after Antonio had arranged a better seat for me. I stayed, but my mood was not at it‘s best...
(Just for the record: I have been seated perfectly at other occasions at separated-seating Milongas, this post is not about me complaining of not getting the right chair.)

You can already tell, that I am no big fan of the separation of men at women at Milongas. But this comes not only from the fact, that I find it‘s application disadvantageous to invitations... no, no...

My main reason for opposing it lies much deeper: I perceive the separation of men and women as something impeding communication and social exchange at a Milonga.
When I visit an event - in particular one of the Encuentros - I will not only dance. I want to meet friends whom I don‘t meet every month, I want to communicate - not only on the dancefloor. If I am forced to be seated far from my male friends, I cannot communicate with them. And I will not communicate much with the women either, as all chairs are facing the dancefloor and everyone is just staring into one direction. For me, such Milongas transform into dance-only events. And the competition amongst women gets bigger. Do we really want this? 

I have talked to many people in the „traditional“ Tango community and the opposition against separate seating is huge. You can tell by the fact, that the „mixed“ short sides of the rooms are overflowing with dancers, both men and women and some people even boycott the arrangement by sitting on the other gender‘s side. And obviously, men and women from the separated sides also invite partners from the mixed section. So, what the hell?

And here‘s the thing: Even at the traditional Milongas in BA, this custom is undermined constantly. On our last visit in El Beso, we (Detlef, Antonio and I) were seated in the mixed section behind the row of single Milongueros. I expected to dance only with my companions. But after the Milongueros had seen me on the dancefloor, they actually turned around and invited me although I was seated with two men. Go figure!

Within the last half year, I attended three Encuentros with separated seating. I can survive in such a setting and get my share of dances, but I will never be happy or comfortable. How can I, if I just don‘t understand the reason why?
I am all for adopting the traditional codes of behaviour on the dancefloor and for invitation into our European setting. I am all for enjoying the music in a close embrace and renouncing complex, big moves... These customs make actual sense and ameliorate the Milonga experience. 
But please - do we really have to imitate EVERYTHING exactly as it is done in SOME of the Milongas in the Tango capital?

I don‘t think so.

If someone can name good reasons for separating men and women at Milongas apart from „this is how it was always done in BA“ and „it helps Cabeceo“, please feel free to present them. 

Maybe I just don‘t get it.

A short note after some reactions on Facebook and here: 
Please do not forget, that this article is about the adaptation of a special Argentine custom into an European setting. I don't try to change the customs of the traditional Milongas in BA. I go there, I adapt to their rules, I like them or I don't. But that's just not the point. This article is about whether it makes sense to have separate seating at European events, especially at the Encuentros or Festivalitos Milongueros.
This article is also not about good seating or cabeceo. I use cabeceo across huge rooms in mixed-seating Milongas all the time and it works perfectly. And: yes, also mixed-seating Milongas need their tables to be lined along the dancefloor in order to make Cabeceo possible. Get it?

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Risky Rendez-Vous

My dear readers. I have not written for a long time, because I‘ve been busy with so many things, especially my Yoga-Teacher-Training. So I hope that you have not forgotten me. But now I‘m back to normal and will continue writing about my encounters in the Tango community and other stuff.


So last weekend, I was at the Rendez-Vous-Milonguero in Bologna - an event organised by our friend Michele Sottocasa in it‘s second edition. I don‘t want to write a general review, but just focus on the one thing that made it very special to me.

As you know, the Encuentros and Festivalitos have been developing immensely over the past few years and a faithful group of international habitués are frequenting them. So whenever I visit one of these events, I meet a lot of friends, students and my favourite dancers. I never walk alone!

But this was not the case at the RDV.


Well, Michele targets a different audience, wanting to make Tango more accessible to everyone and avoiding to pre-select „friends and good dancers“ as it is done by several other organisers, including me. (Please no discussion about elitism, I think, we‘ve already exchanged all the relevant arguments in other threads here and on Facebook.)

The result of his policy is, that the audience at the RDV was much more mixed. Local dancers, many Italians who had so far not visited one of the more established Encuentros, some „new“ travellers from foreign countries... Sure, there were quite a bunch of people you also meet at the other events: some of the French connection, a couple of Germans, some of the Italian habitués, but most of the international „Milonguero“ crowd and all my favourite dancers were missing. No Saso, no Richard, no Nady, Philippe, Pascal, Andreas, Ionut, Ketil or any other of my close(r) friends... Two of my Italian favourites where there, but only for part of the Milongas. And as Detlef spend most of the time in our hotel room sleeping or surfing on the net, I only danced with him 2 or 3 tandas over the weekend. He missed the first Milonga completely, so I was prepared to sit lonely on one of the women‘s tables... I really doubted, that I would amuse myself a lot... 

As you know, I‘m a tad picky, when it comes to choosing a partner. It has to be the right person to the right music in the right moment and very often I prefer sitting to risking a bad or even mediocre Tanda. Call me a snob and I won‘t contradict you!

But on this weekend - I don‘t know how and why it happened - my usual sense of critique got somehow eradicated and I was willing to take risks. Lots of them actually!

From the first moment on, I danced. And kept on dancing until the end. Well, almost... The stone floor killed my feet, so I had to leave the night Milongas a little earlier. But this was the only thing that could stop me!

I danced with guys with whom I had had disappointing experiences in the past and I danced with men whom I knew for a long time, but who were never on my radar as possible partners. I made so few pauses, that I did not even have the time to check out the  unknown faces in the Ronda, so I embraced total strangers without scrutinising them beforehand. I even accepted two non-cabeceo-invitations because I was not in the mood to refuse someone. I danced to D‘Arienzo, to Troilo and to Laurenz. I even risked some Vals- and Milonga-tandas with not-very-advanced dancers - a complete no-go on a normal day. 

It was as if my hard-disc had been formatted anew. Or as if I were possessed... And I had a hell of a time!

Apart from two rather annoying Tandas, I enjoyed myself during the whole weekend, which you can clearly see on the photos on Facebook.

So what happened? I really can not tell you. But it reminded me, that good things can happen, when you don‘t expect them to. And when you‘ve got an open heart and mind.

Mind you... I will surely return to my former critical self in no time and look at you disapprovingly, if you dare approaching me to the „wrong“ music. 

But until then: No risk, no fun!