Review: Bramshaw Weekender

6th May 2010

Date: 23rd to 25th April 2010

Location: Bramshaw Village Hall, Bramshaw (Hampshire).

Organisers: Steve and Debbie Morrall of Tango UK.


Coming from the Modern Jive world, I'm always very dubious about attending a Tango weekender - after all, I have always felt safe in dancing with Jivers, confident in my dancing ability with likeminded people at Jive weekenders. What would a weekender be like, just doing Tango, and would I be out of place? There's no jive room to escape to, it's all or nothing.

Now, I have been previously to Bramshaw, it took a deep breath and a go-for-it attitude that time to take the step to attend the whole weekend, but I mentally armed myself with a get-out-of-jail excuse that if it was all too much, I could always belt back up the M3 to London on the pretence that 'work commitments' required me back at the business. I need not have worried. The first time I went to Bramshaw about 6 months previously I attended a moderately straight forward cluster of Tango classes which, as I had been going to Tango venues and attending Tango classes, I was able to tackle easily with what was thrown at me.

It wasn't so straightforward this time.

This Bramshaw was a moderately tougher set of classes altogether. I won't go into boring you about the intricacies of what was taught, but it involved a lot on how to dance in close hold, being firm on you lead, a real emphasis on techniques required - it was tough! The visiting teachers were from abroad (Constantin Rueger and Ines from Berlin ) and I would definitely attend their classes again. I felt I got my money's worth with these two.

The weekend

The way it works - it takes about 2 hours to drive from London down the M3, you turn up on a Friday, book into a Bed & Breakfast locally in the New Forest (you get to see the animals walking about, just don't run them over and drive slowly!), and attend the evening Milonga (which runs from 8pm to Midnight), catch up with people you haven't seen for ages. There is plenty of parking, you do have to come by car though, there's no local transport link it seems.

Saturday starts at 10am with you bringing along your food contribution of either things such as Shepherds pie, Chocolate cake etc etc whatever you decided to make (you will need to spend previously about £15 each as part of your food contribution). You will be amazed at the diversity of food brought along, pretty much all home made, and it is delicious.

The class starts at 10.30am, after this there is a break for tea, coffee etc and for people to take up private lessons with the teachers. Lunch, where all attend and scoff down a multitude of food, is previously prepared by attendees who are expected to do a rota of tasks. Everyone is expected to do a stint, so if you are doing a private lesson, you will have to do a task on one of the other days or another time in the weekend, for instance.

There is another class in the afternoon and more tea, coffee etc and more food. People start popping back to their B&Bs to get ready for the evening which starts at 8pm.

Sunday is the same process as Saturday, with the evening Milonga having a bit more Nuevo music.

Steve Morall primarily does the DJing, with no bad music at all, and his cortinas include snippets from Star Wars, the Professionals and my favourite that made me laugh 'Enter the Dragon' (the cry out bit!).


I got speaking to quite a few ex-modern-jivers who had attended, one person even talked about her previous days dancing with James Cronin (the founder of Ceroc) and how she missed Ceroc's early days.

The general consensus around the table was that their jiving days were pretty much over, it was Tango full steam ahead now, although they would pop back to their usual jive venue to see old friends - but they were getting less and less as old friends left for pastures anew. The time is getting nearer for some of us it seems for total withdrawal from one dance discipline to another, a chapter that was important in our lives we all thought would never end...

Did I enjoy the weekender? Yes. I felt I got my money's worth and with the amount of attendees - about 40 in the class and 80 odd in the Milongas - it was small and friendly. The owner (Steve Morell) was visible in getting out there dancing with the punters, getting stuck in. There was a good selection of reasonably talented Tango dancers to dance with and the gender balance was not bad either. It's a slick operation that has been around for 10 years, providing a friendly environment but small enough for it to be non-formal.

I'm coming again.

- Ken Royden, 6th May 2010

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