Guest authors: Alexandra Kuncio and Ken Brown organizers of Encuentro Elegante, Seattle, USA
This is what makes these two encuentro organizers tick…Anticipation.
The Encuentro Elegante Seattle is defined by this anticipation…as Ken Brown recalls.
I suddenly bolted awake with beads of sweat running down my face. Reality hit me hard. I’ve committed to organizing an Encuentro during a Pandemic!!!
This was scarier than my recent bout with Leukemia.
Let’s go back to the beginning. For many years, I have had a dream of running a milonga.
While dancing tango in Poland in 2019, I received notice that a milonga that I had been running during the winter months for the original organizers was being offered to me as they retired back to Argentina. Turns out that being in Poland at that particular point in time was serendipitous. The venue I was negotiating with was the Polish Home Association in Seattle.
This leads to my second dream of organizing an Encuentro. How hard can this be?
Ha!! I was fortunate in getting the good advice of experienced and trusted friends.
One said, “Build it and they will come!”, people are desperate to dance after 1 ½ years of no dancing.
The most important aspect at the beginning of this Encuentro journey is having someone who believes in you. Alexandra Kunicio is that someone.
Someone who wants to share in this journey. She tells you “No” when you need to be told, “No”, and suggests “Can we add velvet drapes to the reception area and maybe flowers on the tables?”
They say “The devil is in the details”.
After many hours of our volunteer team working diligently along our side, the scene is set. The ballroom with its high ceilings and velvet drapes, newly refinished dance floor, sound system checked, tables set up with tablecloths, candles to add sparkle, runners that reflect that candlelight, and flowers to bring in the beauty of nature.
All we need now is to add the music and the dancers. Adding music is one of the most important parts of a convivial event. Great music makes people happy and makes them want to dance every tanda.
Choosing Tango DJ’s is like putting on a Broadway show. Each DJ is selected for a particular milonga.
Your goal is to have great music with the dancers being the stars.
That brings us to the most crucial ingredient; the right mix of people. Good dancers with friendly personalities that are welcoming to all, is our goal.
So far we have been very blessed with an amazing group of dancers that have enhanced the tango experience for all of us.
We try to put out tasty food to everyone’s liking to keep their energy high. This also provides a place for people to chat for a short while and perhaps strike up a conversation with someone they have not yet met.
The stage is set. It is opening night, 5:30pm, as we await the arrival of our dancers.
Everything is in place and looks beautiful, but…
Oh wait, the plumbing is backed up?!?
Ok, the downstairs bathrooms are functioning. Whew, we dodged a bullet.
Oh wait, our food prep helper had a family emergency?
Ok, we roll up our sleeves and start chopping and plating.
Oh wait, a dancer has left his knapsack at the airport in Miami with ID.
OK, we verify who he is and manage to register him.
Finally, it’s time. As our guests arrive, we are greeted with warmth and embraces from known dancers and happily greet our new ones.
Every year gets a little bit easier. After 3 Encuentros, we feel proud of what we have accomplished.
Someone always asks “Why do you do this?”.
There is not really a direct answer to that question; it’s a combination of many things.
Our love of Tango music; our love of the stories about life and dancing during the Golden Era; our anticipation of embracing that one person with whom you will experience Tango Magic. That person with whom you can journey to a place so few people will ever experience.
That Tango Magic we all search for.
As we watch and observe the many people who travel from near and far to our Encuentro, we have this thought: with each smile, each embrace, each step, Tango bridges all.
It brings the souls of people together to have that moment in time to experience the desire to become one.
Why do we do this? For the Love and Soul of Tango.
TODO EXISTE EN EL ABRASO
For more info http://www.encuentroeleganteseattle.com/
Photos courtesy of Alexandra Kuncio, Ken Brown and Adrienne Yvr