It’s that time of the year again when we get to dance to our hearts content (and more) at the San Francisco Tango Marathon! This year’s sold-out marathon is November 9-11th, and attendance is capped at 450 dancers. So if you’d like to join for next year, make sure to sign up early!
I love Tango festivals as it’s an opportunity to be surrounded by hundreds of people who share my passion. It’s wonderful to dance in unique and beautiful venues with top Tango DJs, orchestras and be surrounded by incredible dancers from around the world. However, as exciting as they may be, festivals can also be mentally and physically exhausting. Below are suggestions on how to have a great festival experience and prevent exhaustion or injuries.
Dance with new people!
Here you are at a festival filled with dancers from all over, some may have even traveled thousands of miles just to enjoy this event. Of course it’s easy to dance with people you already know, but the best part of festivals is the opportunity to make new friends and new dance partners.
Keep an open mind, as someone you have never seen before may be an excellent dancer. Also, share the love by introducing people who may not know each other, and they may do the same for you.
The best way to invite someone to dance is to use cabeceo. This goes for people you know already and those you don’t. Ladies and gentlemen, if you want to dance, make sure to look up and around or even behind you. If you are busy talking to friends or only looking at the dance floor it will be hard to get a dance. And yes, it is okay for a follower to do the asking via cabeceo. Just catch your potential partner’s eye, give them a smile and indicate to the dance floor with your head or eyes. Keep in mind, the point of being at the festival is to dance. If you can’t catch their eye, it’s best to set your sights on another partner.
How to take care of your feet and body during and after the festival:
Hours and hours of dancing and standing is hard on the body. In order to prevent injury and ensure your body is in good condition for several nights of dancing, make sure to find time to practice self-care.
Change Your Dance Shoes
It’s a good idea to bring more than one pair of dance shoes. By just changing your shoes, you will be using different foot muscles. For ladies, alternating your heels with a pair of flats or lower heels is a great idea. Men too can benefit from wearing a different pair of shoes. Ayano of 4 Dancing Feet sells some great products that will help your feet feel better and recover faster. (They will also be sold at the SFTM consignment store).
Ice Water Foot Soak
When you get home after dancing soak your feet in ice water. Find a large bucket, bowl or pot, fill it with water and ice cubes and then soak your feet for a maximum of 10 minutes. Make sure to have a towel nearby to dry and warm up your feet once you are done. It will sting at first, but your feet will thank you for it the next day. This is the theory behind it: Cryotherapy (“cold therapy”) constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body.
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Another great way to relax and re-energize is to place your feet up against a wall. You can do this against any empty wall or even on your bed. Make sure to place your bum as close to the wall as possible, and let your legs rest against the wall with feet facing the ceiling.
The “Legs up the Wall” pose provides relief of tired or cramped feet and legs and also a gentle stretch for the back of the legs, front torso and the back of the neck. It can also relieve mild back aches and helps calm the mind. Just 10 minutes will rejuvenate both your body and mind.
Epson Salt Baths
Epson salt or deep sea salt baths will literally pull toxins out of your body and along with it, your aches and pains. Just add two cups of Epsom salt to your bath and soak for at least 12 minutes. When Epsom salt is dissolved in warm water, it’s absorbed through the skin and replenishes the level of magnesium in the body. The magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation. Remember, a relaxed body makes for better Tango dancing.
Foot Massages! I can’t say enough about how helpful it is to get a foot massage. Foot massages will help you to improve circulation, prevent injury and recover faster. There are many places in the Bay Area that specialize in foot massages, and they usually include the full body too for a reasonable price. Here are a few listed on Yelp. I also highly recommend using Arnica to help relieve muscle aches and bruises. CBD oil or balm will also help relieve aches and inflammation. You can buy these at dispensaries or many heath food stores.
I know for a fact this is not easy to do during a festival. After hours and hours of dancing, your body will be wound up and the music will continue to play in your head. But do your best to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep. Before going to bed, take a warm shower, massage your legs and feet, do some light stretching, and drink some chamomile or kava tea to relax. Wear an eye mask and ear plugs to keep out light and sound, especially if you are going to bed in the wee hours of the morning.
This is especially important if you are attending a Tango marathon. Do not feel pressure to dance all the time. Socializing and watching other dancers is part of the fun. Do make sure to wash your hands frequently and take extra vitamins. Most of all, appreciate the atmosphere, chat with friends, enjoy delicious food and take time to watch some incredible dancing.
On an ending note, this clip by Srisram Eleswarapu taken at SFTM 2010 really captures the spirit of the Tango marathon; the expressions, playfulness and of course, beautiful dancing.