Review: Tango Mango (Devon)

26th February 2009

Date: February 16th-22nd 2009

Location: Rudolf Steiner School Dartington, near Totnes, Devon

Introduction

Tango Mango is a regular week / weekender Tango event, held in Totnes near Devon.

Getting there

I arrived for the Thursday evening Milonga and the last three days of this six day event. It cost £30 for three days of dancing from 10:00 am until 12 midnight (Sunday until 6:00) and £6 for the Thursday night Milonga.

The event was held in Rudolph Steiner School near Dartington, Devon directly off the main road to Totnes. People present described the place as having good energy and other than a small amount of road noise to disturb the peace outside the building, I could see a yoga or meditation group being very happy there.

Accommodation

I slept in the on site dorm accommodation, costing £5 per night. I also had lunch and dinner at a cost of £5 per meal but had to help out in the kitchen for about an hour as part of the arrangemnent. Almost everybody did this and it was a big social event.

The dancing stopped for about an hour at each mealtime as the floor was quickly turned into a dining hall. The food was two courses, main and dessert and every meal was delicious.

My personal thought on the dorm accommodation was a slight compromise on the sleep and privacy front but a fantastic community spirit and much better than the local B+B or house share options. The only gripe people had was the lack of hot water for showers in the morning.

The Dancing

The dancing was similar to Conway Hall or The Crypt (putting it in context for us Londoners) but the standard was very high.

Out of maybe 100 people dancing each night 10 were event teachers, maybe another 10 were non event teachers and maybe another 10 were leading lights of local Tango groups. I have been dancing for about a year now and was one of the least experienced people there.

Groups from Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol and Norwich came with a spread from other places, not many people from London. On the Saturday especially, people came from all along the South coast to attend some travelling over two hours each way.

The Music

Considering this was a dedicated Tango event the music was varied and enjoyable. For instance many of the Sunday afternoon tracks played I used to hear on the Blues Room decking at Southport, very easy listening and real chilled out dancing and there was an alternative classical set I thought very unusual but enjoyable.

I especially liked the music from Oliver (one of the event teachers from Holland) and Mike Lavoach, who is considered a wiz with Tango music. He runs his own Tango music website www.Milonga.co.uk.

The dancing started at about 10:00 am each morning and finished at about midnight each evening. The dance floor was fast and generally not to crowded except for maybe on Saturday evening. The dancers were just as fanatical as the most ardent weekender MJer.

The Classes

At a cost of £6 per lesson I attended the beginners lesson each morning for 10 people (no lessons on Sunday) and three large group lessons, no more than 16 couples and at a cost of £9 one small group lesson for no more than six couples.

The maximum number of group lessons you could attend was three per day, a beginners lesson in the morning and two group lessons in the afternoon, one of which could be a small group lesson. All the private lesson slots were fully booked so I could not get any. If you are going and thinking about one of these, book early, they cost £30 for an hour. All the lessons were well taught and worth attending.

Many of the attendees have been coming since the event started about six years ago. I was one of the very few that was there for the first time. The people obviously held the organiser Ruth with great affection and high regard and on a personal front I found her to be one of the best teachers I have come across. Over the week about 150 people attended.

Summing up

I thoroughly enjoyed the event and would say this struck me as like being an old JA Southport on as much smaller scale and for Tango. I will almost certainly attend either or both of the July and August events. If you are thinking of going IMO you should it a try, you will not be disappointed.

More details: www.tangoindevon.co.uk/tangomango.html

- Tony Miller, 26th February 2009

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