Review: Tango at Jive Addiction, Southport

Date: Friday 12th - Monday 15th September 2008

Location: Pontins, Southport

Getting there

It felt strange, travelling up here, realising that this may well be the last time I visit this place. As no doubt the whole partnered dance world knows, the alternative competitor, Ceroc, will be taking over the venue - and the existing provider's dates for future events too - in what I can only be described by many as an extremely unpopular manner, according to the feedback I have received from the attendees here this weekend.

The classes

The Saturday and Sunday beginners Tango class run by Amir and Anya in this very large marquee was absolutely packed. It seems that there is a demand for beginners Tango at Jive Addiction events, and after speaking to one of the organisers, John, he wanted to be open to customer need, although looking at the rooms at the new Skegness venue in February and June next year, it did not seem to cater for Tango, but catered well for MJ. Looking at the current weekend, it also does not show that Tango is catered for, but it is timetabled. Later it was confirmed that there would be a provision for Tango at Skegness (or Skegee as it was now called).

Private Tango lessons were on offer by Amir Giles and (his dance partner) Anya.

Southport offered a form of Jive Tango from Amir, rather than a Tango in its own right. We were again given a class on Ochos, although done in a fun way, but do we really need more of this? Yes, if you are new to Tango. Skegness may offer more of the same. This means that Tango at future Jive Addiction events may just be in 'beginner land'.

The dancing

There was again a Milonga held in the marquee but proved to be a bit disappointing in terms of a lack of men Tango dancers. The music was good and varied, was very well attended, but too many spare women. The problem of dancing with others here after dancing at leading London Tango venues such as Negracha the week before, is that the standard of dancing was not brilliant, with a smattering of competent and also confused Jivers. Many couples kept to themselves.

Why would any experienced Tango person go to Jive Addiction's dance events that are more inclined to Modern Jive and West Coast Swing? It's the people you meet.

If your background has been in Modern Jive, you will have grown up with those that originally just did Jive/Ceroc, but then branched out to other areas due to achieving all that it had to offer. The convergence of all these disciplines (so to say) allowed for perpetual grouping and meeting up of old pals - something that now rarely happens at a Ceroc weekender with customers who improve their dancing and move on - so there is a comforting feeling that booking up in advance will pretty much guarantee a meeting of past acquaintances.

Future troubles that weekenders may need to consider though will be on the disintegration of links when those differing disciplines (WCS & Tango) start to produce highly experienced groups of dancers that become isolated from even dancing obligatory with 'old muckers' because they didn't follow the path they went down.

If you can't dance with each other, you are then not meeting and bonding except for a 'high' as you pass each other walking through the venues. For the record, I did not dance with one West Coast Swinger, as I don't now do WCS, but it wasn't because of any animosity towards them, it just didn't happen.

In conclusion

If you want to come to these weekenders, and you are a person who likes to help out others with their Tango nee Jive-Tango and meet old acquaintances, by all means, come and have a laugh (which it is).

But if you want to do Tango, then unless there is a shift in the provision of expert classes for more experienced Tango attendees (by people like Amir, an already established and accomplished Tango teacher who can offer so much more), then it might be the time to start thinking about Tango weekenders as a way forward if you are not happy to be an assistant to those less experienced dancers trying out Jive Tango...

Regarding the Jive Addiction/Ceroc wars, all I can say is - it takes two to Tango.

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- Ken Royden