Thursday 1 September 2011

Tango del Mar in Romania (review with a short digression)

Those who read my blog on a regular basis, may imagine, that I was looking very much forward to this event. And although we almost never combine work with sightseeing, in this special case we arrived a couple of days earlier to enjoy the magnificent and variable landscape or Romania. This is why I cannot stop myself and must give you a short report of our crazy tour from the Walachian plains, over the Transsilvanian mountains to the seaside of the Dobrudscha. 

A journey into a new and very old land:
We arrived on Sunday evening after a whole month of non-stop-intensive-seminars and spend two days visiting Bucharest, a city of immense contrasts: the imposing monuments of communism and newly build or renovated palaces of commerce amongst ruins or desolate apartment houses. I cannot say that we liked it very much, but I will not forget the impressions either. On our third day, we drove over Curtea de Arges to climb the 1480 steps to the castle Poenaru in the Carpathian mountains. I have never been so sweaty and exhausted in my whole life! But it was worth seeing the dark foresty mountains tower over the Arges valley. And to imagine... but well, that is another story.... 
Next stage went over the Transfagaras road to Sibiu in Transsilvania. Although I was rather worried to break our rented car on that never ending winded path with enormous holes in the ground, I was so much impressed by the view, that I do not regret our choice. I have surely never been so high up a mountain and the views were perfectly stunning. 
We got late to Sibiu (Hermannstadt) a nicely renovated city with beautiful renaissance and baroque architecture. The epitome of picturesque. Had it not been so immensely hot! And we only had a few hours on the next day before we had to drive back to Bucharest, where our lovely new friend Oana would pick us up and drive us to the Black Sea. All these places went by so fast. I cannot believe, that we‘ve actually done this... 
We finally arrived at the hotel, tired and hungry as a traveller in earlier times may have been but all of this was so amazing. I have to come back with much, much more time! 

In the meanwhile, let me talk some Tango and finally review the: 

Tango del Mar - Encuentro de Abrazos (August 26-28, 2011) 

The event was organised by Ionut Fiscu and Ramona Budui, two young dancers from Constanta in Romania. Both have started teaching quite early in their Tango life and seem to have a very methodical approach. Which is why they have chosen us after having „tested“ our classes in Italy this January. We were at first a bit reluctant to accept the offer as we had planned our holiday for 2011 during that period - but then finally accepted. Ionut managed to convince us to be „ambassadors“ of close embrace in a country where Tango Nuevo and open Tango de Salon seems to be pre-dominant. We did not regret our decision! :-) 

The Encuentro took place in the Hotel Central in Mamaia, the seaside resort near Constanta at the Black Sea. You could actually see the sea from the open-air dancefloor and a steady breeze was keeping us cool during hot dances. 
The dancefloor was set at the pool and outside restaurant, so you could have even taken a short swim during Milongas. We restrained ourselves, but had lovely meals with grilled meat, fish and salad at the beginning of the Milongas. 
The hotel itself was simple but perfectly functional - and what more can you ask, then to jump out of bed directly into the sea or to the Milonga! Ideal! 

There were three Milongas, two late Milongas from 22.00 until dawn on Friday and Saturday and the Despedida on Sunday, that started earlier and went until 0.30. People showed up rather late and our hosts explained, that this was the custom in Romania.

All DJs presented traditional music in Tandas and Cortinas. 
The opening Milonga was DJ‘d by Ramona Budui. I was still suffering from sore muscles (the 1480 steps!), so I chatted most of the time and left the Milonga early - unfortunately during a Tanda of beautiful Di Sarli with Pomar... Maybe I should have stayed longer. Ramona definitely made a choice of perfectly danceable music - apart from one Fresedo Tanda, that started rather hollywoodesk-dramatic and ended up being very sweet - too late as I had already refused an invitation. Oh... and then I forgot to mention, that Ramona of course played her signature Vals: "Ramona" by Biagi. Almost nobody does this nowadays - but I love that song! 
On Saturday evening, Theo "El Greco" Chatzipetros was DJing. He is residing in Italy and a well known DJ at the traditional Milongas or Encuentros all over southern Europe. He DJs regularly at the Milonga in Impruneta near Florence - a must-go for all Milongueros. Theo is one of my favourite DJs and confirmed his reputation by playing the most beautiful choice of Tangos - lyrical and rhythmic music in a harmonic balance. I stayed until 4 in the morning and heard the rest of the music (until 7 a.m.) from my bed. Which actually annoyed me in the end, as I wanted to sleep very badly, but this was not Theo‘s fault. Next time, I‘ll get a room facing to the other side. Detlef stayed until the end and we both were pretty knackered the next day! 
The Despedida was DJ‘d by Philippe Gonella, whom I have already mentioned repeatedly, both as a dancer and DJ. I was very much surprised by his unusual choice of highly dramatic music, sporting Tandas by very late D‘Arienzo (Este es el rey - a no-go!) and Varela. He usually plays much older stuff.... I will ask him about it! 

We (Detlef & I) were teaching only 4 classes, as we had decided to not work so much as usual - wanting to make up for our „lost“ holiday. I additionally did a class on „music and musical design“ for DJs and dancers. All classes were fully booked by a young and very active crowd. It was fun working with such spirited dancers! 
The workshops took place in a Salsa studio downtown Constanta, which was quite a drive. Next year they plan to have the classes on-site as well. 

We did a demo on the Saturday Milonga which was very well received. It found it nevertheless a challenge to built a good connection to partner and audience with the strong wind distracting me. I actually felt leading impulses by the wind, but then I am most-likely crazy... 

Extra activities: 
That‘s obvious, insn‘t it? Beach time! You may also visit Constanta but most people spent the days sunbathing, swimming and resting. 

Although the majority of the dancers were young people from Romania, there were some „travellers“ as well: Germans, Italians, Swiss and I think also some Turkish dancers. The attendance was a little lower than expected, but the ambiance made up for that. All people were very friendly, open and eager to embrace Tango and the world. Just as it should be! People were actually enthusiastic and one dancer from Italy remarked: Tango, the sea, the lights... this must be heaven! 
I was personally pleased to meet Philippe, his partner Renata, Theo and a another nice dancer from Italy, Massimiliano. We also made some great new acquaintances, not to forget our hosts Ramona and Ionut. So we were lucky to work and dance amongst friends! 

There will be a second edition next year in June, 8-10. Most likely, it will take place in the same hotel, but they will change the location of the dancefloor slightly - nearer to the covered area of the restaurant in order to get out of the windy zone and create a more intimate ambiance. 
We have already been invited to teach again and will do some more hours, probably with a fixed group of dancers. So there will be no option to book single classes - this assures an intensified learning and working experience. 
I am confident that the number of participants for the Milongas will increase as the word spreads about this lovely first Encuentro de Abrazos in Romania!

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