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Charles Long

We are teenagers now

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In January 2006  a small group of friends got together to give their first Tango lessons.

The scene was Windsor Arts Centre (since renamed as ‘The Firestation’) and on a cold Sunday evening we were a bundle of nerves and excitement.

We knew that a big crowd of people had signed up for the lessons, but we had no idea just what was about to start. We had spent endless hours talking about the lessons; what to teach, and how to do it.  We had all endured disappointing Tango lessons, and with naive arrogance we were sure that we could do a better job. 

3 hours later, I recall driving home with a huge smile on my face; the whole evening had been a fabulous success, and a new local Tango community had been born. There had been a buzz of excitement all evening, and there was a sense of being in at the start of something good.

Now, 13 years later, the local Tango scene is very strong. Our milongas are popular, and dancers who have learned with us are now enjoying Tango all of the UK and abroad. New friendships have been made, and some romances too.

It makes me wonder what the teenage years of ‘Thames Valley Tango’ will bring!

 

 

Happy New Year

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And it’s an especially happy one for us after such a great Etonathon event last week.

We were honestly gobsmacked that so many dancers came along, especially on the Saturday night. dancers visited from all across the UK.

And a special mention for Sam, who called in for one night on his way from Canada to a Tango event in Amsterdam, and then changed his plans to stay at Etonathon for the whole 4 days!

But what made it especially great for me was the excellent music selection by our guest DJs Michael, Jalal, Diego, Kirsty, Claudia, Fabienne and Clive. They all did a fabulous job, and I can’t recall such a strong team at one of our events.

It’s going to be a hard act to follow at Easter!

 

Who’d of thought it?

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Our ‘Junction 8’ Tango nights have been running for nearly 10 year now!

They started out as just a fun evening for people who’d been asking for a more varied mix of music. Now,10 years later, the events are firm favourites, and we seem to get more dancers coming along every time!

TBH DJing at ‘Junction 8′ is a real challenge, The normal structures of a traditional milonga aren’t any use, and keeping the flow of the music, and at the same time keeping everyone happy with a varied music mix is bloomin’ tricky. As the years roll by I’m getting more familiar with how things work, and what keep the dance floor full. For a start, I stopped playing any electronic Tango years ago. I sometimes ask for suggestions for favourite tracks, but in all these years there hasn’t been anything suggested that works well as a popular dance choice. (Bohemian Rhapsody? No thanks!).

So it’s really amazing when we get a great crowd every time. People bring their friends, and tell me it’s their favourite Tango night of the year (Really? Oh, OK then).

Here’s to the next 10 years!

Etonathon’s coming…

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Our ‘Etonathon’ event at Christmas time has been running since 2007. To start with it was called ‘Yule Tango’ (geddit?) and included workshops during the day & milongas in the evenings.

Then we decided to ditch the workshops & have afternoon milongas instead, and since then it’s been one of the most popular Tango events. Dancers from all across the UK and beyond can take a break from their relatives, and enjoy a few days of high-quality dancing instead.

About this time of year we start to panic about the arrangements; DJs, Babysitters, & kitchen helpers all have to be arranged. The Hall was booked years ago, but there are still hotel rooms and travel plans that need finalising. To be honest, by the time the event starts it seems that most of our work has been done!

But then there’s 4 days of hosting, dancing, and trouble-shooting to make sure the event runs as well as is humanly possible and everyone has a great time.

Luckily, we have great support from our friends in the Tango community, and it’s a real pleasure to put on an event that’s always so well received.  The advance bookings are already starting to come in, and the DJ team is nearly in place, so we can’t wait for Etonathon 2018 to arrive!

Howling at the moon

By | Rant | One Comment

I’ve been the DJ at a couple of milongas recently where there were show dances during the Milonga (not at our milongas, I hasten to add. We never have show dances, for reasons that’ll I’ve made clear in the past ). Both times were an absolute nightmare, for different reasons:

Both times I was only told which tracks they wanted to be played after the Milonga had started, so there was no chance for a sound check.

Luckily, at the first milonga, the selection was in my extensive collection. But then the performance was delayed 3 times because of ‘wardrobe issues’.  Now, it may not seem like it sometimes, but when I’m DJing a lot of thought goes into the flow of the tandas, so a big break for show dances is bad news. If I know when it’ll be happening then I can prepare a good selection Tandas to try and keep the Milonga flowing. But when I have to change my carefully thought out plans 3 TIMES then I start to lose my sunny disposition and start sticking pins into voodoo dolls.

At the 2nd milonga the show dancers didn’t select the tracks for the show dances until just 20 minutes before the performance, when I was given a memory stick. With the wrong tracks on it. Cue much frantic file swapping whilst the correct tracks were found, whilst avoiding interrupting the music currently playing, all the time managing to stay calm and professional, even when the track volumes were at least 10Db different from each other. And, quel surprise, the show dance started one tanda later than scheduled so once again my careful planning was trashed. Oh, and you know what? After all that fuss and drama, the choice of music didn’t seem to make any difference to the performances, after all. My curses were saved for later; they matured and festered before emerging as a blood-curdling scream of murderous intent as I howled at the moon.

Dancers. Your moves may be sublime and your balance jaw-dropping. But FTLOG save a thought for the DJ; choose your tracks well in advance, and start the show dances on time. Then even the DJ might applaud afterwards, too.

Is that you, Mum?

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Running a Tango event can be hard work, but some things make it all worthwhile, especially lovely feedback from happy dancers. Like this message  we’ve just received from a dancer after last weekend’s ‘Septonathon’:

 

“Sarah, Charles – it would be remiss of me not to express my ongoing gratitude for your sustained time, efforts and energy. It’s said that ‘The only thing that is constant is change’; they also say that you have to ‘Adapt or die’. While that is very true, it doesn’t sufficiently account for ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. You’ve got the formula just right, which is why I think you run one of the best milongas anywhere and make tango in the UK richer for it. I’m very glad I live only an hour away! Sincere thank yous again from a delighted punter”

 

*blush*

Keeping it all crossed

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There are just a few hours to go until Septonathon 2018 starts and, as usual, we’re starting to get excited and a little bit nervous.

We’ve been running this type of events for many years; they last 3 or 4 days, with guest DJs and a big crowd of dancers coming from all across the UK and beyond. But it still feels like the first time, there are loads of little details that have to be planned and organised, and we still worry that everything’s going to be OK.

We’ve already stocked up on cups, and new coffee machines. Right now I’m checking how to programme the new LED lights, and checking the spare (yes, spare) rope lights. Tomorrow is a very busy day; buying the flowers to decorate the tables, then loading up the car and heading off to Old Windsor to do the first phase of the set-up. This’ll give Sarah some time & space to get busy making the dozens of cakes that we serve throughout the weekend. Later we’ll be at the shops again, stocking up on catering essentials and loo rolls. Yep, it’s a glamorous life!

But the best part is looking forward to seeing all our friends over the weekend. Some really great people regularly travel huge distances to support our Milongas, and we’ll spend the time smiling and laughing with them, in between dances.

Nearly there…

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YIKES!

I just looked at the Calendar, and realised that ‘Septonathon’ is only 7 weeks away.

Ok, no need to panic, but perhaps it’s time to get the DJ squad sorted out and announced? Don’t worry; it’s nearly in place and the final piece of the jigsaw looks like it’s falling into place nicely.  We’ll have a mix of regular favourites, new faces, and an international element too, with a bit of luck.

I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but until then we’ll do our level best to keep everything under control.

Zzzzzzz….

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Things I find extremely boring:

Football

Housework

X Factor

Airport check-in queues

Salad

 

But most of all…

Photos of couples locked in embraces at Milongas