Those who are following me on Facebook know why: there are far too many new encuentros for me to keep track of as my time to visit events „just for fun“ is limited by my work-schedule. So I cannot „try out“ lots of new events or check, if the others are still recommendable. Even more: I find there is a real inflation with effects on the general quality. Every week, I hear of some new encuentro being created. Apart from the fact, that many of them just use the label without being „the real thing“, the sheer amount of events creates a huge competition amongst organisers and makes it impossible to find reasonable dates. At least not without forcing the dancers to making (sometimes quite painful) choices.
Because of this, one of our Tangokombinat events - Abrazos in the UK - has been cancelled for 2018 after running successfully since 2011. There was just no way to find a free weekend in which there wasn’t at least one other event targeting the same audience in the desired period. So Andreas and Lynn decided to step back. Let’s hope they will find a solution for 2019.
Also other established events have cancelled, like Carole and Bernard’s cosy encuentro in St. Julien Molin Molette - although the reasons for that might be different ones.
As for the bigger choice of encuentros:I know that one might argue that it makes it easier to get into these events and that most of them still fill up nicely - although not as quickly as in recent years. Yes, that is true. But: in order to fill them, organisers will now admit many more dancers who do not actually share the „milonguero“ philosophy. I am not arguing for a pre-selection by dance level or creating „closed circle“ events only. Nevertheless, encuentros used to be events in which the huge majority knew how to behave in a crowded ronda, invite respectfully by mirada + cabeceo and dance in an unbroken comfortable embrace. A follower could dance with every leader without risking being lead into fellow dancers or risky movements. This is not anymore the case. Most encuentros are now populated by a very divers crowd, which usually creates more chaos on the dance floor and more uncertainty when it comes to choosing your dance partners. And honestly: we’ve already got the big festivals for that kind of ambiance.
I could give many more reasons why I am not happy with this development, but let me just add: I am wholeheartedly for the integration of new dancers into the milonguero fold and there need to be opportunities to do so. There is the perfect format for that: the festivalito milonguero - an event with the ambiance and general organisation of an encuentro, but adding workshops, discussions and lectures that further social dancing and interaction. Unfortunately most of them have disappeared or been turned into pure encuentros. Embrace Norway is gone, so is Viento Norte and Abrazos had been transformed into an encuentro many years ago. Sure, many experienced milongueros now prefer to concentrate on either dancing or learning on a given weekend, but there were always enough newcomers who were eager to take this as an opportunity to immerse fully into the „milonguero spirit“. Only few festivalitos are left.
Disclaimer: no, that is not me complaining about loosing job opportunities, I am still very busy. (Although I always loved these events, because they posed for me the perfect opportunity to work and dance a lot at the same time, which is not the case on normal workshop weekends.)
I think, that there need to be many more of these events to integrate new milongueros and to therefore assure the quality of future encuentros. There are quite some capable teachers who would be happy to join a new nice encuentro. (And yes: including me, whatever my workload is.)
As for my plans: I have not yet finished the scheduling of 2018, so I am not yet sure, which events I will be able to visit. My work-schedule for the first half of the year is pretty full with our USA tour, the teacher-training and lots of workshops, but I will surely be found here:
Yo soy Milonguero, Cremona, Italy, March 30 - April 2
Pequeña (Tangokombinat), Saarbrücken, Germany, June 22-24 (info soon)
Festivalito Rural, Verzej, Slovenia, August 24-26
In the second half of the year, I would like to go to some more dance-only events like Te Quiero Lisboa in Lisbon and maybe again Basel, Barcelona or an event in eastern Europe.
I definitely have to keep some more weekends free of work, because you cannot teach a social dance, if you don’t dance at social events. But that’s another topic for another blog.
Oh... for everyone who still find the list of last year's events useful, just click here.