Sunday, February 27, 2005

Catching on

We're getting over 100 people each Saturday, even on a 'quiet weekend', that is, one without any visiting DJs, bands or instructors. We have a guest instructor from Buenos Aires next week, Alicia Pons, and I can't imagine how many people will be here ... 200?

The Shoe Center is kicked off -- Jeff the shoemaking scientist-craftsman started to take everyone's foot impressions & measurements at Saturday's milonga, and will be doing the same over the next month or so, as he determines the base lasts that he'd like to create for instigating our local Tango shoemaking workshop. The notion is that people will be able to come here and start on the process of getting the perfect custom dance shoe made -- this takes several mockup iterations to do correctly. We're trying to make inroads into the way people buy shoes. Buying local shoes, made-to-order, supports local craftspeople, and results in a better shoe for the wearer. It happens that the oldest shoes in the world are sitting in a museum in Eugene ... of course the modern running shoe was also invented here. So we're on fertile ground. Whenever you start a non-profit project, you want to build upon local strengths ...

Friday, February 18, 2005


After each milonga, I'll start uploading to this free photo service. Such a photogenic environment. It's even better-looking for moving pictures, of course, with music. We'll start regular DVD production and photo sales as soon as we can ...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Pre-milonga Tango faire

This weekend, we had two simultaneous classes before each Milonga: An Intro to Tango, and an Intermediate class, both at 8pm. This might seem like a confusing thing to do in a single room, even a big one like ours. But Friday worked well. And Saturday worked like magic.

Ev Marcel taught the Intro, and Robert Hauk taught the Intermediates, both days, so they had an opportunity to work out the bugs. Here's the result:

1. Keep the music playing all the time. Don't pause it, even if both teachers are talking ... just turn it down.

2. If possible, have the DJ or someone who knows the system, turn the music up and down, for two sets of speakers, relative to what's going on ... so if one teacher's talking, turn their speakers down, then when they stop talking, turn them up. Only when both classes are dancing, will you go "full volume" with both sets of speakers.

3. This would be much easier if the teachers could have volume controls for speakers on their side of the hall. In the meantime, a DJ can do it. So, we could use a "fourth pair" of speakers, on the far side of the second floor, and some volume control mechanisms.

4. End the classes on the same song. Wind up the Intermediate class first. At the end of the Intermediate class, tell the dancers "we want to build the tango community, so let's go and join the beginners, ask them to dance, dance a tanda with them."

5. At the same time, prep the beginners, tell them that the intermediate class is coming over, and that they must dance the first Tanda -- a tradition at the Tango Center.

6. Bring the Intermediate group to the beginning group. Quick announcements. Introductions. Start the milonga. Gradually turn some lights down.

This was a very successful experiment. I can't tell you how magical it was. You had to be there. Or ... come next time!

One thing -- it was kind of like a Tango educational faire. I could easily imagine four floors of instruction running at the same time, a bell goes off at 9pm, and everyone comes to the main floor and we start the milonga.

Filo described "La Viruta" in Buenos Aires as a bit like this. They probably don't try to get everyone to dance with each other across classes ... but here, that's part of the reason we do this.