I went to the tango fest in Portland last week, which is called Valentango. This is the first time I’ve ever gone to something like this, and found that it was pretty much what I had expected.

They held 12 classes per day, Thursday through Sunday. That’s three time blocks in four categories: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and advanced couples. So, I could take 3 classes per day. I started out in the beginner’s category, but also took some intermediate classes. A lot of the leads in the intermediate classes were not intermediate; I’m not quite sure that I belong there, either.

They had food and some vendors available in the basement of the main building. The food seemed like you would expect at a high school basketball game, hamburgers and chips. The vendors were ok, I tend to get frustrated that few places carry my shoe size. They brought in shoes from Argentina, and also had at least one rack of clothing.

I feel like I got something out of each of the classes that I took. I probably got the most out of my very first class, which was on ochos. I really struggle with back ochos and balance. My balance does seem to have improved a bit. About half of the classes were in open embrace or practice hold, the rest were in close embrace. One class I took was on changing embrace, so that one used both open and close.

There were too many follows in the majority of the classes I took. I played lead a few times, badly. You could move around to different class levels, so I’m not sure how they could have balanced this out.

There were multiple milongas each night, I went to four of them. My favorites were on Saturday night, the grand ball and the all-night milonga at the Chelsea ballroom. There was a teacher’s demo at the grand ball, which was a lot of fun to watch. One couple danced to a song written and performed by one of them. Youtube has the other performances.

Overall, I had a lot of fun. I felt at the time that I was getting worse with each day, but I now think that I was just tired. It was expensive, but I understand that this is because they brought in so many teachers, and that many of them live pretty far away.


~ by Liz on February 20, 2008.

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