Wednesday 17 October 2018

Encuentros & Festivalitos Milongueros 2019

Here I am again.

A lot of friends have asked me to post another list of event-recommendations for milongueros. 

I have hesitated for quite some time, as I still find it difficult to offer that nowadays. Why?
- The numbers of so-called milonguero-events have risen even more and I can only visit a fraction of them, as I am working most of the weekends. 
- A few events have developed in a way, that I really cannot recommend them anymore to Milongueros. 
- Some events have been stopped. One of my favourite events (Abrazos in the UK) will e.g. not take place in 2019 because of Brexit issues. 
- In general, the "milonguero" events are changing along with it's population. There is a tendency to not visit all milongas of an event - which changes the atmosphere a lot.
- The borders between marathons and encuentros are getting more and more blurry. I myself will visit a marathon in Vienna this November. Let's see how that goes.
All in all, there are many reasons to not post any recommendations.

But of course I still love going to encuentros or festivalitos milongueros, because this is where tango is danced in a way that I can relate to. I always try to keep a few weekends per year free to dance with my friends. And sometimes I am lucky to be invited to dj or teach at such an event. Then I am even happier, because I can combine the pleasure of working and dancing in the ronda! 

I have therefore decided to post another choice of events that:
1. ask participants to pre-register for the whole event,
2. use role- or gender-balance to ensure that everyone gets to dance,
3. will take at least 3 days and have separate Milongas,
4. use traditional music in tandas & with cortinas,
5. encourage cabeceo & mirada, in particular by placing seats consequently around the dance floor and installing enough light to actually be able to see across the room,
6. encourage dancers to leave the dance-floor after one tanda to find a new partner,
7. are meant to attract people who want to dance in a close embrace in a civilised ronda.
Events, that have these features are in general called Encuentros or Festivalitos Milongueros (see note below). Festivalitos might include a short demo as well as some classes that focus on social tango. There will nevertheless be no live-music or extended shows at these events. The Milongas are reserved for dancing. So they could be called Encuentros+. Please note that separate seating is no necessary condition of a milonguero-event. In fact, I do better in a mixed-seating environment.

So, here goes:

EVENTS, that I organise or where I dj or/and give classes in 2019:
La Colmena, Copenhagen, Denmark - April 19-21
Pequeña (Tangokombinat), Saarbrücken, Germany, June  21-23 (Festivalito)
Embrace Norway, Lillehammer, Norway - July 5-7 (Festivalito)
Festivalito Rural, Verzej, Slovenia, August 23-25 (Festivalito) 
FCA (Tangokombinat), Saarbrücken, Germany, Oktober 12-14 (private event) 

EVENTS that I have visited in the past:
Pasionaria Milonguera, Nice, France (Date uncertain)
Yo soy Milonguero, Crema, Italy, April 19-22 
Rendez-Vous Milonguero, near Lyon (formerly SJMM), France, May 3-5 (private event)
*Les Cigales, France, May 30 - June 2
Ensueños, Porto, Lisbon, October (Date to be announced)
*TangoAGoGo, Lago di maggiore, Italy, October (Date to be announced)
Tres Besos, Basel, Switzerland, November 1-3
*Te quiero Lisboa, Lisbon. Portugal, November, November 22-24
Abrazame, Barcelona, Spain, December 6-8 (marathon-encuentro mixer)
(I will try to go to 1-2 of them in 2019. But some do not meet to my personal preferences, so I would not visit all of them again. The events with * use separate seating of leaders/followers.)

EVENTS that I have not yet been to, but that get good feedback by many milongueros, depending on their preferences:  

Noches de Invierno, Reichenau an der Rax, Austria, January 4-5
Juntos, France, February 1-3
A Promotora, Portugal, March 1-4
Ronda de primavera, Kehl, Germany, April 8-14 (privat event)
Bomboncito, Basel, Switzerland, springtime (private event)
Encuentro Porteño, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 2-5
Encuentro de Brujas, Bruges, Belgium, May 16-19
Noches de PrimaveraReichenau an der Rax, Austria, May 10-12
Avventura Milonguera Peace & Love, Nocy, Italy (around June)
Noches de Verano, Reichenau an der Rax, Austria, August 9-11
La Franteña, France, August 15-18
La Parada Milonguera, Treviso, Italy, October
Yupie, France, October 18-20
Paquita, Sarrebourg, France, around New Year (private event)
(Many of the events on this part of the list use separate seating. Please check in advance, if this is of any importance for you.)

And last, not least - the UK EVENTS:
These are events of which the future is uncertain, mostly because of Brexit. If they do take place again, I will certainly go there. 
Abrazos (Tangokombinat), Dartington, Devon (May): Took place from 2011-17 and then went on hold for one year. But then came Brexit, so our colleagues suspended it again. Might come back, if there is no hard Brexit or if the situation in the UK will not deteriorate completely. I am not holding my breath though. Very sadly.
Sueño de Escocia, Linlithgow, Scotland: one of my absolute favourites 2018, but who knows what happens next year. Even without Brexit - it was a first-timer and it is uncertain, whether the lovely organisers will do it again. But the pressure on them is definitely high. Everyone loved it! (Edit: Will take place again in 2020.)

That's it for the moment. I might update the list as soon as I get more info. Please also write to me, if you discover a mistake. 

Please note again: 
This is a very personal list of recommendations. It is subjective, but all the events on my list are suited for dancers with a milonguero philosophy. There are many more Encuentros, that I either don't know or know to be fakes. And there are many small, more local events as well. I am here sticking to events that are well-established and that aim to attract an international crowd. For a complete listing, please visit this site

General note on Encuentros and Marathons:
Nowadays, some Marathons seem to have the same or most of the features as described in my 7-point list above. But as I have not been to any of them, I cannot vouch for that. Things are constantly on the move in the tango community and these two terms might not exist in 10 years anymore. But in this article, I am speaking from my perspective for the year 2019. 

Saturday 5 May 2018

Photos and Films at Tango Events - how it affects all of us!

From May 25 on, the GDPR (general data protection rule) will come into direct effect in all EU countries. The law is meant to prevent the misuse of personal data - in particular by the big firms who make money by processing and/or selling data.

But the law will also affect every single person living or working in the EU and it will have a huge impact on the tango community - that has become very dependant on the exchange of digital data via e-mails, online forms, websites, youtube and social media. A lot of tools and commodities that we have been using or enjoying on a daily basis will have to be re-structured or even abandoned. And although the law certainly is of noble intent, a lot of its outcomes might be quite devastating.

The law is applied a differently in the EU countries, but in Germany, there is no extra regulation, so the GDPR regulations will have to be interpreted by model lawsuits. Depending on which country you live or work in, that might be the same or comparable because of a very strict interpretation in the country affected. Everyone will have to check whether and how exactly the regulation apply to him or her.

Because of this, my life as a tango teacher and organiser has again become more complex, costly and work-intensive. In the last few weeks, I have spent many hours and quite a few Euros to update five websites and several online forms as well as restructure my general way of data collection and processing. One of the sad outcomes is, that there won't be anymore comments on this blog. I have disabled all further comments in every single blog post - separately, because there is no option to do that for the entire blog in general. ARGH! All that work to in order to make the business GDPR compliant. Not being a lawyer or even interested in that kind of stuff made it even harder for me.

Ok. That does sound so bad and so far, the extra work and costs just affected us (and every other European organiser and teachers who takes his or her job seriously). Obviously it of no big interest to the consumers, the event- and class-participants. 

Unfortunately, affected tango organisers and teachers will have to - sooner or later - adapt their fees for classes or events in order to compensate for huge amount of extra work and costs. That’s already quite inconvenient, isn’t it?

But, money aside, there will be other (more immediate and sad) effects on our tango experience.

It concerns all tango photography as well as videos taken during events.

This is the law:

The GDPR says that every collection of data has to be agreed upon by the person whose data is collected. Digital photos and videos as well as their processing is considered as processing data after Article 2, Paragraph 1, GDPR.
Therefore every photographer, film-maker or event organiser will have to ask for permission after Article 6, Paragraph 1 GDPR before any photos or videos are taken. The object has the right to withhold this permission or to withdraw consent after Article 7, Paragraph 3 GDPR at any moment.

How is this different from the previous practise?

Although you had to ask for consent to take a photo before GDPR, there were quite a few exceptions that allowed tango photographers to take nice pictures and post them on facebook or exhibit them in another form: 
  • Declaring the photos/films as art,
  • Only asking the person in focus for permission. People not in the focus (e.g. seen from behind or taking a only a small space in the picture) could be declared as accessories and therefore did not have to consent.
  • Define the event as private and posting it only to those who have attended.
  • Defining the event as public.
  • ...
And let’s be honest: most people love tango photos or did not care so much, as long as the photographer did his/her job in a discreet manner and was willing to take down photos which one did not like after publishing them.

Now the law requires, that everyone who will recognisable in a picture (also if it is just by a haircut, tattoo or figure) has to consent before any film or photo is made at all forms of events - e.g. weddings. Also the form of storing and publishing of the material has to be informed about and agreed with. The photographers or organisers have to be prepared to produce this written permission upon request of the subject or of a regulatory authority. They will have to face potentially huge fines, if not complying to the law.

What does this practically mean?

It will be almost impossible to spontaneously take a nice photo or film the ronda or crowd. In any case, you will have to get permission before. That might create more or less difficulties. Check out some different cases:
  • As long as it is a very small crowd - like our Tangokombinat Minilonga with 30 people or so - all that might not be such a huge effort - just annoying, because everyone has to sign a paper form at the entrance of the milonga. This means that you actually have to have someone sitting at an entrance desk, not just a desk with a money-box. Why: because the filled-out form itself is an information about somebody - data that has to be protected from misuse. The cashier has to make sure that no-one else reads it. One person more to pay or compensate for or "bye-bye" dancing for the organiser!
  • At an encuentro or marathon, you can ask people to agree upon registration, but they can revoke their permission at any given moment. So it is already a lot more work beforehand. And then imagine, you’ve got 200 participants, 20 of them not agreeing and the photographer or film maker might not know everyone personally - in particular if he/she is not a dancer. He/she will have to check before every photo or film, if anyone within sight did not comply. Most likely with the help of a list and someone actually knowing all participants by name. This will be the organiser, who is already busy with lots of other things or who might want to dance as well. Sure, there is the possibility to give the non-compliant participants badges to wear, but checking for them in a crowd will also take time and honestly - who wants to wear a stupid badge? Or force someone to wear it? For me, that opens up quite another box of Pandora.
  • An open Milonga or a Tango Festival, where people show up spontaneously at the door is even more complicated. You will have to make them sign paper forms (see above). Just imagine how long a check-in might then take. And then let's hope that you can actually spot the non-compliants in the crowd.
  • A last example: taking a video of a demo or a class summary. Apart from the potentially huge effort of asking permission, the camera will be moving, so it even  harder to control who you are filming at any given moment. You can of course invite everyone who did not comply to move out of the camera angle. And then you just have to hope that no-one stays seated in a visible spot and complains or even sues later. Who will risk filming under such circumstances? Sure, in some countries making such clips just for personal usage might still be allowed - but how many of them end up on Youtube?

Imagine what all of this does to the artistic spontaneity or expression of a photographer or film-maker. It kills it. Plus the additional work! Apart from the preparation by getting people to consent, the complete raw-material has to be carefully checked before further processing and deleted in case it shows someone who was filmed by accident or someone who revoked consent after the event.
So from now on every photographer/film-maker/organiser will think about if having a few nice photos is still worth the effort. And every serious professional will have to increase prics. 

What is the outcome?

The best outcome: Having pictures or films made at tango events will become more expensive and these extra costs will be payed by the consumer's fees. 
The worst-case scenario: There won’t be any pictures or videos. Knowing the community and its mechanisms, I predict that many event organisers will just save on the expense or effort.
And would this not be incredibly sad? Don’t you all love the (moving) pictures of dancers in a nice embrace or of your favourite performers during their spectacular demo? And now think of what kind of damage this does to the artists or teachers who depend on videos or photos for promotion. 
No problem for Tango Escenario by the way, if it is exhibited on a stage without showing the audience.
All of this might have a huge impact of how tango is perceived from the outside or what kind of tango will be popular in the future. Tango as a world heritage, in particular the social tango we love could become much poorer and ultimately might face a decline because of this reduced exposure.
You think that I am exaggerating? Let’s hope so, but let’s not count on it.

How does this affect us?

By us, I mean Melina Sedó & Detlef Engel as well as the Tangokombinat-headquarter. Our UK section might not have these problems after the Brexit - maybe the one reason to looking forward to it. 
We love to have pictures taken during ours events. What would an encuentro be without the photos of happy people in lovely embraces to remember it by? We would like to preserve this!
Also there are a lot of people who enjoy watching videos of our demos - which have been crucial in our advertising for the last 17 years. We were amongst the first tango dancers to upload dance-videos onto the web - long before Youtube or Facebook! A lot of people invited us or came to our classes because of a video they had seen. Without the videos - we would not be were we are now.

What will we do?

1. We will ask every visitor of our events to allow us to take pictures or videos of him/her. We will do so upon registration or with the help of an extra form or with a paper form to sign upon entering a milonga. 
2. If there are too many (more than 10% of all visitors) not consenting, then there will simply not be any pictures or films of this event. The efforts and risks involved are just too high.
3. Because of the ambiguity of the law - we are not yet sure who will be liable, if a law is broken - we cannot officially authorise third parties to film or take photos. You will have to do so on your own risk.
4. We will ask for consent before videotaping any of our demos or class summaries - no matter who the organiser of the event is. 
5. In cases of filming outside of the EU or when filming in dark light settings, this might not always be necessary and we might additionally blur the film around the edges to make extra sure. Also some EU countries (e.g. Sweden) have taken extra measures to create own regulations that overrule the GDPR and might ease the situation. Therefore we might sometimes be able to film a demo without the written consent of the spectators at a local event. But what happens at a Festival in Sweden, with visitors from all over the EU? Do I need a written consent of a German or Greek dancer? Or do I need the consent in general because the laws of my home-country applies when posting a video on the internet via a german server? So many people give different answers. This is quite confusing.

I am not a lawyer and I seriously hope that some of the regulations might turn out to be interpreted more liberally as I now have to assume. But many of the questions have yet to be answered in courtrooms. This might take years and until then, a lot of lawsuits will cost a lot of money. We definitely won't take any risks.

I know that this was a really boring post, but one that I hope many tango organisers, teachers and dancers will read. You seriously have to form an opinion and take care of stuff ...

... before someone gets hurt! Or cries because of a huge fine. 

Friday 27 April 2018

GDPR compliance

Hello everybody.

In order to make my blog secure, I have taken the following measures:
- I have activated SSL.
- I have disabled the "followers" field. My followers will not be visible to others anymore.
- I have added a site with legal details and my data privacy policy.
- I will from now on disable comments on new posts. (This is really unfortunate, but as long as I don't find a possibility to add an opt-in box to the comment function, I cannot take this risk. You can discuss my posts with me on my Facebook profile.)
- I disabled commenting in all past posts. Single-handedly for every one of them. Phew!

I am still researching, if I have to take additional measures, so if you can think of anything, let me know.

Have a good day,