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Charles Long

Keeping it all crossed

By | News | No Comments

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…

By | News | One Comment

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….

By | Rant | No Comments

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

Darwin does Tango

By | News | One Comment

Lately there’s been some changes to a number of regular Milongas around.

The long-running weekly Milonga ‘Negracha’ in London has been forced to leave their venue and still hasn’t found a replacement venue. Calesita closed last year, and a monthly Milonga in Guildford is now closing because the organisers are moving away. Recently another long-running milonga in the South – Menuda – closed also.

At the same time, it’s years since a successful regular milonga was started in the South East. The milonga calendar locally looks pretty much the same as it did 5 years ago.

So, what’s going on?  Why aren’t there new Milongas being established and thriving?  Why are the choices for dancers getting fewer?

Back to basics

By | News | No Comments

This week has been a busy one for private lessons; we’ve been teaching most days, and we’ve been getting great results.

In fact, we’ve found lately that private lessons are much more successful than group lessons ever were.  We get better results, faster, and have more fun along the way!  That’s because the lesson is totally focussed on just one student (or one couple) and so we can give them exactly what they need. We can judge the pace of the lesson to suit the individuals, and tailor the content to suit their needs and priorities.  The lessons plan is less generalised, and much more personal.

People seem to like the private lessons too; currently we’re booked up for 3 months in advance.

Please, Mr Zuckerberg

By | News | No Comments

Sometimes we get just a bit exasperated because of the way that Facebook operates.

In the Argentine Tango world, Facebook is the main way for events to be organised and promoted, and for dancers to swap notes and hear about Milongas coming up. Popular Tango events can include several hundred dancers with Facebook accounts, so we naturally want to send Facebook invitations to hundreds of dancers.

And that’s where Facebook tries to interfere, because when they see us inviting lots of people they’d prefer for us to pay to advertise the event, and so they limit the number of people that we can invite. They say that they’re preventing spam, but Facebook is a business that makes money from selling advertising, right?

Unfortunately, we only want to promote events to Tango dancers, from a wide area.  So there’s no point in Facebook encouraging us to ‘Boost’ an event by paying for advertising instead; paying Facebook to advertise milongas locally is pointless.

That much is already frustrating, but then Facebook also randomly change their algorithms, so that we can sometimes invite nobody, sometimes only 50, and sometimes as many as 500 people. Which makes it very tricky when you’re running several Milongas every month.

.

Then again, it’s still a lot less hassle than printing and distributing flyers.  Remember those?

 

 

Easter is coming…

By | News | No Comments

Easter is nearly here. For most people that means a break from work, and lots of chocolate.  For us there’s still lots of Chocolate, but it’s certainly not a break; it’s the time of one of our big Tango events, ‘Eastonathon’.  3 days, 5 milongas.

Luckily, we’ve managed to get a great team for this year’s event; I’m really pleased with the DJ squad that’s coming. Justyna is a great DJ and fabulous dancer.  Diego is great fun and really knows his stuff, and local dancers can trust him too. Anthony coming from ireland to make a welcome return to our Milongas. And Fabienne is a great friend and was a great success last time she DJd for us.

Behind the scenes, there’s Susan keeping all the food and drink organised all weekend, which is a huge job! And Sarah’s mum is looking after our son all weekend so we are free to run the event.

Sarah has been busy for a few days now, preparing the food for the whole weekend. There’ll be hot cross buns, and the usual huge range of tasty cakes and snacks. It’s a huge task, and she’ll be leaving the milongas early each evening in order to prepare for the next day.

Which just leaves me, swanning around trying to look like I’m in charge, but secretly just keeping my fingers crossed that it’ll all go OK.

ooo look -I’ve got a camera

By | Rant | No Comments

So you’ve been to a Tango marathon or encuentro.  Lucky you. And whilst you were there you took lots of photos, presumably because you weren’t dancing much. And now you’re back, you’ve decided to post the complete album on Facebook.

FTLOG why???

Huge albums of photos from Tango events have to be the most tedious and pointless wastes of time on social media. And lets face it, that’s saying something. Typically they’re just endless shots of couples in an embrace. Either smiling or ‘lost’ in Tango blss. They just leave me wondering who, exactly, is supposed to be interested?

People who didn’t go won’t be interested. After all, they weren’t there. People who were there will only be interested in photos of themselves, and will struggle to find any. People who wanted to go, but couldn’t, will feel bitterness about what they missed.

Hmmm. So the only person who is interested in all the images is the photographer?

You’re not Annie Leibovitz. Put the camera down.

And start dancing.

DJ shopping

By | Rant | No Comments

It’s around this time of year that we start to recruit and select the DJs for our big events coming up at Easter, September, and Christmas.  All together, we need to sort out the DJs for around 20 milongas and this takes many weeks of discussions and emails. So what do we look for from guest DJs, and why can it get so tricky?

I think that the music is the main fundamental element of a Milonga, and so the DJ is absolutely crucial.  That’s why I get very cautious and careful when it comes to selecting guest DJs.

By and large we only ever use guest DJs that we have heard playing at least once.  It doesn’t matter how many recommendations they have, or how popular they are at other events, I will try to check out milongas where the DJ might be a good choice for us. And when I’m at a milonga there are several things that I’m looking for in a good DJ:

  • Do they arrive and set up on time?
  • Do they spend too much time with their headphones on pre-listening to tracks?
  • How much do they walk around the dance floor, checking the music quality and volume?
  • Are they actively using an equaliser with at least 8 channels?
  • How are the Tandas constructed?
  • Are they using BPM or another method to manage the energy within a Tanda?
  • Are the tracks volumes all levelled?
  • What is the mix of familiar favourite tracks and lesser known recordings?
  • How does the mood of the Tandas vary through the evening?
  • Does the music link without pregnant pauses or, even worse, crashing between tracks?
  • How do the Cortinas contribute to the atmosphere of the Milonga?
  • Are they familiar with their DJ software?

Simple, isn’t it? Er, no. That’s why it gets so hard to recruit DJs of a good enough standard, and why we tend to stick with the good ones.

And, by the way, that’s often why I’ve stopped going to some local milongas with a resident DJ.  So now you know.

 

 

We are all doomed

By | Rant | No Comments

At a well-known regular Milonga in London recently the DJ still hadn’t turned up 25 minutes after the Milonga was due to start.

There was no apology from the DJ.

There was no apology from the organiser.

 

Everyone who had travelled to get to the Milonga when it started was kept waiting without any explanation, and the Organiser didn’t even contact the DJ to see where he was or when he would arrive.

 

We are all doomed.