Tango Feast (Devon)
1st April 2009Tango Feast is a weekend event that is held in Paignton in Devon. There are four Tango Feasts planned for 2009 (March, June, October and December). I have just attended the March event.
The Tango Feast is held at the Oldway Mansion in Paignton. This is an amazing Palladian mansion built by the Singer family (of sewing machine fame) in the 19th century. The main hall has a sprung dance floor, so this was where most of the dancing took place.
I have attended a number of tango weekenders, and this is probably the most beautiful venue I have danced in.
The Feast starts on a Friday night and goes through to Sunday evening. There is an opening milonga on Friday night (8pm - 12) and then all day dancing Saturday and Sunday. This included a "dress up" milonga on Saturday night (8pm - 1).
The emphasis of the weekend is on being able to dance as much or as little as you want to . However, you can also take a large group workshop on Saturday morning, and small group workshops on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
The prices were fairly competitive compared to similar weekenders. Cost for dancing and workshops was £81 : cost for dancing only £52. If you booked more than a month in advance the prices went down to £74 and £46 respectively.
There is no accommodation at Oldway Mansion, so you would need to consider the cost of a local B&B. Note however that the December event will be an all-in event held in a more traditional venue - the local holiday camp!
Tango Feast attracts a similar crowd to the one that attends the Tango Mango in Totnes. In addition many people are drawn by the idea of dancing in such a beautiful venue.
There were about 50 people at the Saturday morning class, and around 80 for the Saturday night milonga. This was enough to give the main floor a great buzz, but not so many that it became a traffic jam. Numbers were possibly down on the other Tango Feast that I have attended (last October). This could be because there was another weekender running near Southampton on the same weekend.
The organizers ask for people to book as couples, and they do enforce this rule. The split of men to women was therefore about 50/50. As often women outnumber men, this was something that was much appreciated by many of the ladies!
Devon has a glut of gifted tango teachers, so the local level of dancing is extremely high. I would say that in London terms it was similar to the level at Corrientes. Most of the local "talent" made an appearance on either the Friday or Saturday evenings.
Floorcraft was generally better than I have found in London. There were no Nuevo tango "floor hogs" in evidence. This made for a relaxed dance floor and a pleasant dance experience. On the whole people danced in close embrace, even during the more modern tracks.
There was a scattering of beginners and improvers in the crowd. However the general level of dancing would probably have been intimidating for those with less than maybe a year's experience.
The music was varied, with blues and Neo Tango being played alongside the more traditional tango tunes. In London terms, it was similar in style to the music at La Mariposa.
The event is organized by a talented young couple called Fernando and Tara. They were joined as teachers by a well known couple from Holland, Stefan and Komala. Stefan and Komala are part of the El Corte dance school in Nijmegen.
Classes were held in two side rooms next to the main dance floor. There were a maximum of 10 couples to each class. Levels were from Improvers to Advanced. The higher level classes were all fully booked.
Both couples worked on technique rather than on "moves". For instance, one of the workshops was on dancing in small spaces : another on powering movement from the hips. I spoke to couples who attended at different levels. The concensus was that these classes were enjoyable and stretching.
Overall, the weekend was fantastic, with lots of great dancing. Fernando and Tara were wonderful hosts. If you are looking for quality dancing in a beautiful setting, then this is the event for you.
Little John, 1st April 2009