David goes to Edinburgh... Five: The End

2nd June 2010

"Too early to tell" ~ Chairman Mao on the impact of the French Revolution


So, after coming to Edinburgh, and spending Friday and Saturday and Sunday, now it's time to take stock.

Learning stuff

I took two workshops with Horacio Godoy and Cecilia Berra, and three workshops with Jenny Frances and Ricardo Oria.

(I didn't get a chance to try any classes with the other main teaching couple, Pablo Rodriguez and Noelia Hurtado - time and my stamina did not allow.

Five workshops in 48 hours is pretty much my maximum effective learning rate - 8 hours of learning, spread over 2 days. Some people I know did three or even four workshops each day. That may work for them - personally I'm a slow learner and most of the learning from that amount of classes would be lost on me. Plus, I don't have the energy.

As you may be able to tell from the previous entries in this series, I also took a lot of notes, and wrote them up. This is mainly to help me remember what on Earth I did during that time. It usually takes me more practice+thinking time, than learning time, to absorb a lesson - up to 3 or 4 hours for each hour of class. So these notes are part of my "thinking time". I think.

So I believe I learnt a lot of things, but it's still far too early to tell how much of that learning will be retained, and will be internalised to the point where I can actually use it - whether it's the "wiggly-hip trick" from Horacio and Cecilia's workshop on Sunday, or the back crosses from Jenny and Ricardo's workshop on Saturday. Time will tell.

But the classes were, uniformly, excellent. The teachers were professional, helpful, enthusiastic and approachable. Horacio's drawing of Buenos Aires - alas I forgot to take a photo of it - will stay with me for a while.

Classes: 9 / 10

Dancing stuff

Friday evening, the milonga was at Teviot Row House, in the debating rooms there. It was very hot, it was very crowded. It would have benefited from some "walk-around room" (yes, even if by reducing the dance floor space) around the outside, and some more space for coats and bags.

On Saturday night, the milonga was at The Hub, near Edinburgh Castle. It was lovely and airconditioned, the band was good, the demonstration was excellent, and the venue was great. Again, not much "mingling space", but it was tolerable. The main problems were floorcraft-based, leading to a bit too much "defensive dancing", but it was still a good night.

Finally, on Sunday night, they had 2 rooms - unfortunately, a bit too far apart. I enjoyed the atmosphere in the second room; my main criticism was that the music stopped in the second room for the demonstration upstairs - what about catering for those of us who wanted to carry on dancing?

Overall, I felt the milongas were fine, but not exceptional. Floorcraft, the lack of gender-balancing, and some issues with layout, took some of the edge off the enjoyment.

Dancing 6 / 10

Other stuff

The people were lovely; the nice taxi driver who took me from the airport to the hotel was practically a tour guide and a mine of information on everything from the origin of the word "bungalow" to the biographies of the local rich and famous Edinburgh citizenry.

Edinburgh's a great city - Grassmarket in itself on a Saturday night is worth being in, simply to watch the endless procession of people in various costumes go past. Restaurants are fine, and the city itself is compact enough to make it easy to walk around. Although they should make the place flatter, of course.

Transport and accomodation were fine - there was a slight delay on the flight back, but apart from that everything else went swimmingly.

Others: 8 / 10

Would I go again?

That's a tricky one. I learnt a lot, I enjoyed myself, and I'm glad I went.

I wouldn't put it as a "must-visit-every-time" destination, because there are so many other places I want to visit.

But I'd definitely recommend the place. So if you've not been, then you should go.

The Edinburgh International Tango Festival

~ David Bailey, 2nd June 2010

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