Review: Tango Mango (Devon), October 2009 - Four

4th November 2009

Date: 26th October 26th - 1st November 2009

Location: Rudolf Steiner School Dartington, near Totnes, Devon


Following on from my introduction article, my notes on the beginner classes, and my review of the other classes, here's my overall summing-up review.

The Classes

There are a large amount of classes running throughout each day, plus the opportunity to have private lessons with the visiting teachers (at £30 / hour, very good value). All the classes are well-attended, as far as I can tell, and the teachers get booked-up for private lessons very early on.

So, given that the scale of the Mango is relatively small (I'd guess less than 150 people in total), the entire Mango is an excellent learning opportunity.

You could definitely go for the classes and daytime dancing alone; in fact, that's where I got most value from.

The Milongas

There's tango music playing constantly, from 10am until the end of the evening Milonga, of various types - for example, there's more Blues-style music played after lunch.

Personally, I didn't really get into the formal evening Milongas - I preferred the "just dancing" atmosphere during the day. To me, the evenings were JAM (Just Another Milonga) nights - although the atmosphere overall was quite friendly compared to the atmosphere at London milongas. Which, admittedly, is not saying much.

Standard-of-dancing wise, it's difficult to say. There were few beginners, and a large amount of teachers, but apart from them there were relatively few superstars I could see. Most people seemed to be at "good" level, so I'd guess the standard was quite homogenous.

The Atmosphere

There's been a lot written - much of it by me - about the whole "hippie" thing at the Mango.

Yes, it's there. There were communal dormitories, there were group singing sessions in the morning, and if you ate there you had to book at least one cooking or washing-up slot. There were comfy cushions to loll around on, there was lots of hugging. And so on.

But this level of involvement was not mandatory, if you're not comfortable with it. I stayed in a lovely B&B in Totnes, I had minimal chores, and I definitely didn't do any singing; but I still participated in the atmosphere.

In addition, it's in Totnes, which is probably the Hippie Capital Of England. Totnes also seems to have a higher level of tango teachers per head of population than anywhere outside BsAs, God only knows why....

Anyway, I came out of the Mango with more energy and knowledge than I went in, and feeling much better about Tango in general. So that's got to be good.

Summing up

Would I go again? Maybe. I had a nice time, but not so much that I'd want to attend this to the exclusion of other weekenders. There are Tangks, there are Feasts, there are London festivals... It's a wide world of Tango out there.

- David Bailey, 4th November 2009

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