The 2012 San Francisco Tango Marathon has now come and gone, leaving us dancers craving more.
The festival started off with a bang at Broadway Studios, a place fondly remembered by veteran tangueros here in San Francisco. The dance floor is on the smaller side for the amount of people that showed up, but it was good a good reminder on how to dance in tight spaces. The club has a large entrance area, for eating, lounging and socializing. Inside, there is a fully stocked bar. The balcony is a great place to sit and watch when you need a break from dancing (as I did after several tandas in a row).
What really made the night, was listening and dancing to Seth Asarnow y Su Sexteto plus 1. The extra violin really expanded their sound and they sounded amazing. We are very blessed to have them as our local tango orchestra.
Both Saturday and Sunday started at 12:30pm with a Tango lecture by Tango lyric translator extraordinaire, Derrick Del Pilar. He shared with us his insights on the themes of the songs and the women they are about. Derick, not only is an avid dancer and DJ, but is the perfect suited for this lecture having acquired an M.A. in Latin American Studies with a focus on the history and literature of Argentina in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The dancing commenced directly after the lecture. Thankfully there was a lot of fresh, hot, delicious coffee supplied by Epicenter Café as wall as a plentiful supply of brunch foods such as yogurt, granola, breads, cheese, fresh fruit and more. The organizers were very smart to make sure the dancers were supplied with caffeine, water and food to keep everyone happy and on the dance floor. And when a little break was needed, there was a whole room of couches for lounging, chatting or a power nap.
With the purchase of the weekend pass you could pick and choose what times and days were best for you. In between dancing, you could go home to eat, take a nap, freshen up and then return knowing that there were lots of tandas still ahead of you. I really loved finding dance partners that I met last year or the year before at SFTM and getting the opportunity to dance with them again… a whole year later.
The format and locations of the festival had not changed much from the first two years but a few more features were added that improved upon the event such as a kids’ play area during the matinee milongas (great for dancers with kids), a consignment store to buy and sell used tango shoes and clothes, plus a lot more food and coffee.
The organizers set up some ground rules at the outset, such as the use of cabeceo, catching the eye of the passing leader before entering the dance floor, staying in your dance lane and staying with the flow, accompanying ladies to their seats, and apologizing for accidental bumps.
Locals were also encouraged to give a warm welcome to the out-of-town dancers, to introduce ourselves to people around and try a tanda with someone new. I’m sure others would agree, the quality of the dancing at the marathon was at a high level. Even when dancing with people I did not know before, all of the tandas I had were at the least, pretty good and some were even amazing.
I say let’s continue to heed those “rules” at all milongas. Let’s welcome visitors so that they will continue to return and call San Francisco one of the best U.S. cities for Tango.
Overall, SFTM makes me proud to say the Bay Area is my Tango home.