Reflection on the 1st Welsh International Tango Festival

Published December 6th 2018
Author: Chris

We had planned to create a Welsh Tango Festival but thought it was going to take us a couple of years to build up to it, however, due to the stars aligning we were able to put it on over the 1st and 2nd December 2018. So this is our critical reflection on the event.

What we envisioned of this event was a celebration of the Welsh Tango Scene and a coming together of everyone with a common love of tango as well as acting as an advert to those around the UK and even further abroad. So, we wanted an event that would cover all aspects of tango, all levels of abilities from beginners to advanced, and all styles of tango from Salon to Nuevo and those on the boundaries of tango which are becoming more and more popular like fusion and blues.

Initially we had planned an event with Eduardo of Tango Alchemy and Cabaret Tango and called it the Welsh Festive Extravaganza, then our friend Wayne Rozier of Tango FFS called us up and said the Nick Jones and Diana Cruz were arriving in the UK a week earlier than expected and would we like to host them in Swansea for an event. Obviously, this type of opportunity to have World Famous and World Class International Teachers does not come up very often and the timing meant we could add them onto the already planned event which would allow us to then turn the event in to an International Tango Festival. This was a big risk to us, both financially and on a personal level as we have never really attended a tango festival and so really didn’t know what would be expected of us. However, we thought, when would we be able to get this opportunity again and went for it.

As Nick and Diana had travelled so far, it made sense to expand the event up to 2 days with the 2nd day (Sunday) featuring a limited number workshop from our guests, and for those who were attending but not on that workshop we would teach some Blues and Fusion workshops, then a chillout milonga which would bring people together, and chat and eat the buffet that we would normally provide at our milongas. We were also lucky enough that Wayne agreed to do a DJ set at the milonga.

The Saturday had to be modified from our previous plan, as we had to move the start time earlier. We had our workshop planned and decided to shorten it and use it as a warm up. Then Eduardo could teacher 2x50min workshops on Milongero style tango, and Salon to Nuevo, filling our criteria for covering all styles. Finally, Nick and Diana would teach 2 more technically challenging workshops. So that was the workshop section sorted.

For the Saturday evening milonga we already had a band and Eduardo would do a DJ set to add to our DJing, plus Libusha of Libertas Atelier had agreed to come along to sell her tango clothing. Add to that our usual catering and we had the makings of a proper Tango Ball.

This event proved very, very popular with the exclusive workshop with Nick and Diana selling out in a matter of weeks and a continuous stream of bookings for the rest of the event. We don’t make a profit from our events, preferring to give back to those attending and we had enough from the takings to consider serving a hot served buffet. We like to use local suppliers wherever possible and to be as inclusive as possible. Therefore, we decided to use Goggi’s Cuisine to serve a hot buffet of vegan food, as we felt this would mean that everyone was able to enjoy a dinner. We also were able to include in the budget a goody bag which contained bottled water, snacks and sweets, as well as a tango Christmas decoration and a (hand written) Christmas Card from us.

Overall the event ran very smoothly with all the workshops and milongas running to time. We had many positive comments about the event including many about the venue and the floor. Everyone thought that all the workshops were very well taught and excellent value and the content and levels were very well planned. On a personal note we had lots of people coming up to us saying how much they enjoyed our own workshops especially the relaxed but informative teaching style, the subjects included and that the standard of our teaching was equal to that of our World Class guest teachers.

The Saturday evening Ball was incredibly well received, with compliments including the quality of the music, both from the DJs and the Band, the quality of the dancing, the room layout and our lighting although we did have some comments saying the lighting on the tables could be improved so people could see which people were waiting to be asked to dance. This is very good constructive criticism and for future events we will looking into improved table lighting and hopefully have both projectors working that will increase the light levels. A highlight for everyone that attended was the food, we knew Goggi’s menu is of the highest quality, and now everyone else knows too. We had many comments on how much they enjoyed being served a hot buffet at a milonga especially one that was so delicious. In the middle of the evening we had our demo performance from Nick and Diana and as you would expect from World Class dancers we got a World Class show (videos below courtesy of Mountain Hut Films) that everyone enjoyed and has inspired all those that saw it. We had 80 people attend the Ball, which meant that the room was at capacity and we were very pleased to see that 80% stayed until the close, normally we see many leaving after the band has finished playing. We are taking this as a measure for just how much people were enjoying themselves. As we said the room was at capacity, and for insurance reasons we could not have any more attend, unfortunately we had some messages on the day asking if they could attend the milonga and we had to say no to them. We had announced we would be shutting the booking for all parts of the event on the Sunday before, this was because if we had passed the 80, we had time to book the larger room. However, it appears that some had not seen these announcements, therefore, for future events we will put in more effort to ensure that the messages are clear. However, we would also ask people to read all the information that we publish.

On the Sunday we had over 40 people attending and again having a very good time. For the Sunday we were in the Taliesen Arts Centre and had booked out the whole of the ground floor which proved to be a very nice venue. Although we had put directions on the map that we sent out to all that attended, posted in the Facebook event and announced it at the end of the Saturday, some struggled to find the venue, therefore next time we use 2 venues we will make signage to ensure that everyone can find the rooms.

Both sets of workshops went very well, we could not take part in the limited couple workshop with Nick and Diana as we were teaching our own workshops. From the feedback from those who did do it, it sounded like it was very, very good and useful in improving their tango. As for our workshops on Blues and Fusion, they were also very well received with all liking the teaching style and the range of content included.

Part of our plan for the Sunday was to have a very chilled-out relaxed atmosphere where those attending could sit together and socialise and get to know each other as we had people from all over the country, including London, Stoke, Reading, Devon, Bristol, Sheffield and more. From the comments we have received we achieved that, and were pleased again everyone enjoyed the buffet we supplied and the venue. Also, everyone really enjoyed the music provide by Wayne Rozier who ended up DJing the full milonga.

So that was Wales’ 1st International Tango Festival ended. However, there were some general comments that applied to the whole weekend which we’ll share with you. The first was about the general atmosphere of the event, we of course always aim to create an atmosphere that is relaxed and enjoyable, so these where great compliments to receive. Other compliments were based around our organisational skills and our attention to detail that made everyone feel welcome. We will of course take all these comments on board and apply them to all our future events to make them even bigger and better and we hope to see you at them.

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