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Darwin does Tango

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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

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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

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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…

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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.

Septonathon is Go, Go, Go!

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Yes, ‘Septonathon’ is back! – our Tango weekend event in September.

We’ve juggled dates and pulled some strings, and have the Old Windsor Memorial Hall all to ourselves for the weekend of 8th & 9th September.  So there’ll be the usual milongas in the afternoons and evenings, attracting lots of dancers from far away as well as our local friends (well, hopefully).

Plus, amazingly, I’ve also started to get the DJ team together, with just one more to confirm they can come.

And also I’ve checked out the prices of rooms that weekend at the Travelodge. Currently the price is £101 for 3 nights, which is an amazing bargain.

This is all going too well; should I be nervous?

That was quite a year

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Now that 2017 is over, we’re looking back and taking stock of a momentous year for our Tango.

Early in 2017 we were told that we must stop using the venue in Eton that had become the ‘home’ of our lessons and events for over a decade.   It was shattering news, and extremely shocking for hundreds of dancers.

Hundreds of phone calls followed, and days spent visiting venues and agonising over the future.  Then we heard that a brand new floor was going to be laid at Old Windsor and suddenly everything fell into place. We had a great venue, close to Eton, with good facilities

The change of venue to Old Windsor caused few problems. In fact, we’ve had a lots of people come and tell us that they prefer the new venue; the floor is gorgeous, it is a more airy space, it’s easy to reach, and has loads of free car parking.

So now we’re looking forward to 2018!

Getting along with the neighbours

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The Tango world in our area has been strong and varied for many years now, and I’d like to think that we’ve been part of that story. Many good milongas help to sustain the community, and make it attractive to dancers from other areas too.

Cooperation is a big part of this. We try to support the other events going on locally; it’s great to get to meet up with other dancers and connect with the local dance community. So we know what’s going on and share our enthusiasm and support.

And we always make sure we avoid running events that clash with other Tango events locally i.e. not on the same day, and not within an hour’s drive.

Let’s face it, it’s just plain good old common sense all round, isn’t it?

Yes, I understand that nobody has the right to ‘own’ a date for an event. But to give events the best chance of attracting a good crowd, then it seems logical to not force dancers to choose between competing milongas. If there’s a choice of events, then obviously each of those organisers will attract will have a reduced number of dancers.

And obliging dancers to choose between events is divisive; it doesn’t encourage a cohesive local community.

You’d think that was obvious, but not everyone seems to think so. Over the years since we started running milongas several people have established local milongas that clash with our existing events, and the consequences have been predictable.

Despite that, it’s still happening *sigh*

Etonathon venue change

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Exciting news today about the venue for Etonathon 2017.

St. Bernards Convent told us they needed much tighter security arrangements for the event, which would have caused major headaches on top of the factors we had already discovered at the Charity event we held there in May.  But after the first milongas at Old Windsor Memorial Hall we’ve heard lots of great feedback about the Hall and its great dance floor, so it crossed our minds that Old Windsor would be the right venue for the Etonathon event instead.

There was just one problem; there were already some bookings at Old Windsor when we would want to be there.  Hmmm… So we sent a few emails and made a few phone calls, and over the next couple of weeks slowly the pieces started to fall into place. Then yesterday we got the news that the final hurdle had been removed and we could use Old Windsor Memorial Hall for the entire 4 days 27-30 December! Fist bumps all round!

We’re really pleased; the dance floor at Old Windsor is one of the best we’ve ever danced on, and it’s got a lot of other things that make it a better choice, too, including the acoustics, ventilation, access, and technical facilities.

And it looks like we might also be able to fit in an extra opening Milonga on the afternoon of Wednesday 27th December too!

No, apparently it isn’t just us

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We used the Baldwin Hall in Eton for many years before our bookings were terminated without an explanation.  It took months of asking before we finally found out that it was because the Hall’s Trustees preferred to keep the Hall for use by locals only.

Now I’ve been hearing on the grapevine that other users of the Hall are having a hard time with bookings also. Yes, it seems that even minor bookings are being rejected if it doesn’t suit the Trustees.

OK, so I’m biased, but it makes me wonder quite why bookings are being declined even when the Hall could otherwise be empty. Are there really that many people in Eton who might possibly want to use the Hall instead?

And there’s the wider effect on the Eton to consider. Over the years we used the hall we brought in thousands of dancers to Eton who then spent money in the local pubs and restaurants and shops. I’m left wondering about a strategy that’ll leave a resource standing empty instead of having a facility bringing in visitors and boosting the local economy.

It’s comforting to know it isn’t only our Tango events that are being affected by this strange decision. Luckily for us, we’ve now found a new venue with better parking, a better dance floor, better toilets, installed sound system, plenty of power sockets, Wifi, and a friendly organiser. So we’re not bothered.



We’re back!

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Well, hello again. What a couple of months it has been! The biggest news is the re-start of our milongas, as the new venue at old Windsor.

The opening night was a real heart-in-mouth moment for us; we had spent days and weeks preparing and doing dress rehearsals too. Sarah spent hours making bespoke bunting in beautiful colours and we created longs chains of fairy lights and rope lights to create a magical atmosphere.

The big unknown for me as the DJ was the quality of the sound once the room was full of people chatting and dancing on top of the dance music. There really is no way to predict how it will go, and I was really nervous – I guess it might have showed. The hall has huge speakers installed, but I chose to supplement them with an array of our own speakers just to give the best possible sound quality. Of course, that also meant miles of audio cables to connect and power cables too. As it turned out it was great, and I needn’t have been concerned about it.

Luckily we never needed to worry about the dance floor. It is absolutely fantastic; silky smooth.

The doors opened and we were amazed at the huge crowd of dancers that arrived; it was unbelievable! We hadn’t dreamt that there would be so many people coming along to support us and celebrate the new venue. The food was gobbled up, and the dance floor was packed all night.

So, that’s it; we are under way again in a great new venue that has happy reviews, and I can’t begin to describe how fantastic that feels.