The Brussels Tango Festival once again gathered tango aficionados from different parts of the world, even though, as usual the Europeans took over. What made this year’s edition exceptional was that it was its 10th anniversary. It didn’t differ much from the previous years though.
This was my fourth Brussels Tango Festival and to me it was quite alike to the previous two in terms of attendance and venues (my first one was at different venues) with the two gala nights in the Concert Noble and the night of improvisations at Galerie de la Reine. But in general I am not very keen on tango festivals. Many tangueros plan their trips from one festival to another. Well, I have never been like that. Despite my ten years of tango I have been to no more than 6-7 festivals. I must admit that it can be exciting to dance in a beautiful venue such as Concert Noble surrounded by 500 people from different countries doing the same. To tango through the day – starting with apero tango in the afternoon, continuing with the official milonga till 4 am and then moving to the after party from 4 to 8 am. And it was exciting for me once. But then its magic somehow faded away. And my attendance decreased from year to year.
Being in Brussels we get the chance to have international milongas all the time. And people from the neighbouring countries often come to an ordinary milonga. So the festival makes no difference in this respect. What makes a difference apart from the venues is the opportunity to take lessons with great maestros (but again we don’t lack good teachers here) and the prices. The entrance fees are rather high – 10 euro for apero tango (when a regular milonga is 7.50) and 25 euro for the galas, no drinks included.
Nevertheless this year I decided to have a full day devoted to the festival. Saturday. I didn’t eat much during the day to keep myself light for the dance. I took a nap in the afternoon to be fresh at the late milonga and – who knows – maybe stay till 4 am for once? And even maybe go to the after-milonga…for once?
My tango challenge started at 4:00 pm at the Apero Tango milonga. I had never been to this place, Beursschouwburg @ Brussels, and I liked it. It was full of people, standing and dancing. And I felt those butterflies in my stomach. This is the excitement I always get when approaching tango, the pre-taste of it, the longing…I didn’t have to wait for long to be invited. I stayed for a couple of hours, almost till its end at 7 pm, dancing most of the time. There was one hour to the concert at Grand Place so I decided to go home. Once at home I felt sleepy again and decided to rest a bit. I realised I wouldn’t make it to the concert. But then I would have enough energy for the milonga.
Around 10:30 pm I jumped in a taxi which took me to Concert Noble. As expected, it was full. The Solotango Orchestra was playing beautifully. I wore my shoes and started dancing. I danced big deal of the time which is not always the case at the festivals. I had some proper partners and enjoyed our tango flow. I saw the breath-taking performance of the maestros Roxana & Sebastian and
Erna & Santiago around 1 am. A couple of tandas later I was gone. It was all very nice…but it felt like in a dream. I was making too much effort to stay awake, not to be too slow, not to be too soft in my movements, to keep my balance, to keep my posture straight, to “hear” the marks of my partners, to follow…I really don’t know how these people make it – dancing through out the night with the same passion and inexhaustible hunger for more. I was never like this – not even in my first years of tango. I do know that hunger and I do follow its call. But if I am lucky enough and have two-three good partners or if I am blessed to have a “this is it” partner (like in the above picture), the hunger is satisfied. I have got enough to keep me going in the coming days and lately even weeks. So I can go home. It’s the quality. It’s the moderation. But then maybe I have never experienced the madness of it. And maybe I never will.
I did want to go to the night of the impros. And I did miss it again. But I missed it deliciously, walking in the nature at sunset.
Yes, it’s all about tango. Yet tango is happening not only when dancing. C’est ça.