ValenTango has come and gone… two months ago now actually. I’ve actually just finished the final edits from all the pictures I’ve taken, the last bit was the performances. Have had a backlog for a while on the pictures, but I’m pretty much back on board and things are moving forward quickly. Lesson learned, less performance pictures! Looking back through my photos from ValenTango, it brings a nice smile to my face over that weekend.
The first thing I love about ValenTango is the dancing opportunities. There are mid-day Milongas, Practicas, mixers, evening, and also late night dancing options each day. Classes start in the morning and are done by 4PM, which allows for attending the Practica, going to a mixer or catch the end of the afternoon Milonga. Two main dance halls and separate rooms for the lessons and Practica, means there is almost always something to do. You just need to work around your food breaks, or just don’t eat.
The highlight for me and having fun has always been the earlier Milongas and the mixers, because the atmosphere is much more relaxed. You don’t have to overly dress or feel the need, not trying to impress, and to meet new people and dance and have a fun time. The evenings I’ve found to be more dress up and impress. Still fun, but felt more of an event and special occasion, which for many it indeed was.
ValenTango as the name implies is around Valentines day, and the festivals theme of colors and such reflects it nicely. If you don’t attend with someone, or already have plans to meet with another person, there are so many nice people willing to get to know you. Usually when I’ve attended solo, there has always been new amazing people to go and grab food with, just talk, or dance the night away with. There are so many people at ValenTango, you don’t have to dance with new people all the time, you can just stick to a few people throughout the festival as there are usually plenty of people for everyone to dance with. I still try to dance with new people, and the mixers and earlier milongas allow that to happen much easier for me. The evenings I try and spend some more time chatting with some friends, getting dances with those past connections, and hopefully get a few more new people in as well.
The dancing at ValenTango is always a pleasure, and I’ve done a much longer write up about this festival last year. The venue, area, friendliness of everyone, the teachers/performances, the live music, everything worked really well. Yes some alternative music can be hit or miss, some things don’t go exactly as planned, but overall there is something for everyone here!
Photos & More
With all the dancing to be had, I actually feel I danced less this festival… mostly due to having a camera in my hand trying to capture moments of those who were dancing. Yes the camera did get set down and I got on the dance floor, and many wonderful dances were had. Did I want to dance more? Yes you could say that but at the same time I had fun being able to capture moments for people, getting those smiles, and documenting the festival. I’ve tried taking pictures at festivals in the past, including ValenTango, but the pictures never looked very good, and most people don’t like their picture being taken from a cellphone. With a camera, people were wanting their picture taken, which was so much fun!
If you haven’t seen any pictures yet from ValenTango, most can be found on my public Facebook albums. Recently I’ve gotten the pictures online at pass gallery, where you can also order prints or high resolution files.
Outside of having a good time with pictures, dancing, I found myself relaxing more this festival. Had an AirBnB, good company, good food, a slight headache a bit, and almost lost the first full nights of pictures during transfer which might have caused said headache as well (spent a few hours with recovery software). Might attend some classes in the coming years, I’ve not done that ever here, but heard pretty good things, just need a dance partner that is interested and also has the funds to make it happen. My feet weren’t as sore, plus so many good friends and connections over the years and a few new ones as well kept me busy. I’m starting to come out of my own shell a bit and striking up more conversations, but feel there is never enough time to do everything. I want to dance more, take more pictures, spend time with all the friends I’ve made and new connections, and I really want it to be a week long, but it loses it’s special meaning. Maybe I’m just sad that such a big event is so short lived. Could be a sign I need to travel to more festivals, and one way is by taking photographs.
Really everything is still here at ValenTango, it’s not perfect, but it accomplishes what it sets out to. Clay listens to his surveys, keeps the festival moving, has good teachers, staff, volunteers, and overall is rock solid. I’ve had fun as a dancer, a newbie in the past, a photographer, and maybe someday in other capacities. Give it a try and check it out, should hold up to most expectations.