Thursday, March 15, 2018

Encuentro is another name for Heaven

Encuentro in Paris, France
In Europe, and now more and more in America, organizers have developed little tango festivals (festivalitos) which in all cases are close embrace weekends.  The term for these small events has settled on the Spanish word for "encounter" (encuentro).

Encuentros are amazing for things that happen and things that don't happen.

Things that don't happen:
  • Obligation dances.  No one asks you for a dance. Tango etiquette has long established the cabeceo/mirada (non-verbal) method of asking for a dance as the epicenter of that etiquette.  If you "don't believe in" non-verbal requests or don't know how to get a dance without asking, an encuentro is not a place where you will dance much.
  • Crashes. No one runs into you. "Tango stars" don't come nor are they invited. Floorcraft at an encuentro assumes that one can dance well in a very small space.  No one will kick you from out-of-control moves such as ganchos and boleos. An excellent dancer with poor floorcraft will be thrown out or at least never invited again to an encuentro and put on a black list. Personally speaking, the feeling of safety allows me to dance at a higher level. Sometimes I have to use all my survival skills to protect my partner at festivals and local milongas. When I am forced to go into a survival mode while dancing, my focus on dance skills will suffer. The encuentro allows me to focus on what really matters: The music, embrace and unique dance expression of my partner.  
  • Tango "stars" cannot fit in the encuentro ronda!
    Milonguero stars are created in the
    star-filled heavenly embrace of their partners.
    (Encuentro in Newport News, Virginia*)
  • Tango shows. Did you come to watch someone dance all by themselves or to dance with all your friends?  No shows or demos as a rule.
Things that DO happen:
  • Excellent dance music.  An encuentro is almost certain to invite well-known DJ's who understand Buenos Aires rules of tandas and cortinas.  (Four-song tango tandas x 2, a three-vals tanda, again two tango tandas, and finally, a three-milonga tanda.). The DJ also knows not to mix orchestras as a rule. The DJ's take time to find the best quality reproductions and play mostly traditional Golden Age tango. But what good is to have excellent dance music without a good quality of sound?  Encuentro DJ's generally have the highest level technical knowledge about sound reproduction and the best copies of songs. Enjoy their carefully equalized, distortion-free music that is carefully kept at volume levels that will not harm your hearing!
  • Excellent dancers with warm embraces.
  • Gender balance. Having gender balance relaxes everyone quite a bit. Some men and women may sit more than they want, but gender imbalance is usually not a factor. 
  • Social dancers. Many dancers often try to dance with everyone at the small event--not out of obligation but out of joy.
Note: The encuentro I am describing is from my experience. And yes, I am idealizing the encuentro here a bit. But in all cases, I have had a great time--heaven on earth.  Also, I write from my conversations with organizers who may add or subtract some minor elements. One organizer may add a "demo" show of milonguero dancing. Most but not all organizers will make the milongas not so long; so everyone will show up at the same time. This ensures that the balance will be right.  Most encuentros will have a dinner together.  Most will have lots of food and drink included in the price. Each organizer and country will bring a bit of spice to the encuentro and the concept will morph over time--for better or worse.  I am open to edit and change this post.  Write me at or message me on my Facebook Tango-Therapist page ( with your ideas.

-------More info----------
Register to find out when and where encuentros in the USA are happening at  Most European encuentros are through invitation as dancers notice the quality of your embrace and knowledge of tango etiquette.

*Photo credits:
  • Paris encentro with Sybille and me Dec 2014.  
  • The line of dancers in the ronda was taken by Ivy Garrenton
    at the Newport News, VA (USA) encuentro.  March 2018.  

Insights about what an encuentro looks like:

Paris encuentro:  Dans les Bras (in your arms).  Sybille and I were there. Heaven!

 Barcelona encuentro:  Abrázame.

La cita de los amingos 7

Tango Short Films by Roberto: