As I have already referred to in an earlier post, two sorts of Encuentros are starting to drift apart: the ones who promote separate seating for men and women and the other ones who allow everyone to choose their seats freely or assign gender-mixed places. I have basically stopped attending events with separate seating, as I feel more and more uncomfortable in this setting. Therefore I have lost contact to many lovely people, because they prefer Encuentros with separate seating. I have not been to any italian or french Encuentro since early 2014. That‘s so sad!
Many of the mixed-seating encuentros nowadays attract marathon dancers and from what I hear, many marathons start displaying typical „encuentro features“, like invitation by Mirada & Cabeceo, dancing only one tanda... So the differences between the more „informal“ Encuentros and Marathons seem to disappear. That is generally good, but not entirely as many of the "maratoneros“ still use a quite different (more asymmetrical and in my opinion less cuddly) embrace and unfortunately still tend to make bigger or less foreseeable moves. I really don't want to say, that the "milongueros" are the better dancers, but most of them used to dance in a way, that was better suited for a crowded dancefloor. In an environment where everything is a little more chaotic, those skills tend to be forgotten as well. Everyone will feel more stressed. That makes the risk of getting not-so-pleasant dances at an Encuentro greater. Which is not good from my perspective.
But there is more. There are more. Encuentros, that is. It seems to me, that in 2015 dozens of new ones popped up. I hear of a new Encuentro almost every week. Some of them attract a more local crowd, which is fine, because then, the local communities profit from the development.
But many new Encuentros are organised by people who have not been part of the „Milonguero movement“ before. They therefore attract another kind of dancer or might even just „stick“ the label „Encuentro“ to an event, that has got none of the defining features. There are even Encuentro-Marathon-Festivals! This is why you have to start doing research in order to check if you‘ll actually get an „Encuentro Milonguero“ when you sign up for one.
Another outcome: Because of the greater competition, dancers have got more choices. That's of course good and the waiting lists get shorter. But you might end up being alone amongst people you don‘t know because all your friends are at another event. It‘s great to get to know new people, but one aspect of the Encuentros used to be to meet friends from all over the world.
Even established organisers cannot fill up their events so easily as before and have started admitting participants who don‘t have the skills to share the space in the ronda without disturbing the other couples, without actually offering them the opportunity to acquire these skills. (Think floorcraft introductions before an Encuentro.) This is why it often feels less „safe“ on the dancefloor.
Whilst Encuentros are spreading out, the typical Festivalito (which includes teaching) becomes extinct or have been transformed into genuine Encuentros. This reflects the needs of a majority of visitors, who want to concentrate on the dancing during these events and take classes on other occasions. Unfortunately, normal workshop-weekends are also offered more seldomly, as many organisers switched to offering strictly-dancing events. So nowadays, there are actually less opportunities to learn. And as Tango means life-long-learning... What do you think happens, if people stop learning? I have already referred to the downsides of this development in another post.