Big Event Syndrome

Story | Opinion | Martin van Kesteren | 3 Jul 2023 | 1 comments

“Maybe you’re an Encuentro guy,” she suggested. “Aren’t Encuentros for elderly dancers?”, I said. She smiled diplomatically. “Eventually, we’ll all go to Encuentros.” I shared with her my concerns about my registration for La Cita de Los Amigos in Spa—a big event, with 340 participants. “I’m not sure if I have what it takes… Three days, tangos played from one o’clock in the afternoon until four in the morning…Big dance hall..” “Everybody has to be fit to get through a marathon,” she reassured me. “You’ll be fine.” “It’s something else I’m worried about.”

When registration for the summer edition of the tango marathon La Cita opened, my finger hovered over the Send button with mild anxiety before I pushed it. Some say La Cita is heaven. Others say it’s a shark tank. The “Amigos” in the title refers to the fact that everybody is a friend, of a friend, of a friend. It helps your registration if the organizers are familiar with your contribution as a dancer. This informal vetting system is, of course, despised by those who are not in. However, the 340 participants who are in couldn’t care less about such injustice. The highest quality of DJ-ing, a dazzling ambiance, and 170 experienced potential dance partners will soften any principles they may have.

“I’m not sure if I’m cut out for such big events,” I confided to her. “I become a spectator. My mind drifts off.” “Where is it drifting to?” “Crazy things. I calculate the number of tandas missed because dancers can’t decide on a partner. I find proof for the hypothesis that a fancy dress will get followers more dances. That sort of thing.” “You should focus on inviting those followers,” she said. “It’s beyond my control. When there are so many, it’s harder to focus. Also, I forget their names. I worry I’m confusing them with someone else.” “Everybody forgets names,” she said. “Lately, I forget the faces too. The bigger the event, the worse it gets. People greet me as an old friend, but I don’t remember who they are. Big events seem unreal to me.”

Weeks before the event, I cranked up my yoga class frequency. The Airbnb I picked was at a crawling distance of the venue. My mental preparation included a vow to ban any young-age emotions. I memorized the names of previous FB connections. On the first night, the crowd was like kids in a toy shop, feverishly figuring out which was the nicest to play with. I stayed until 3.30 AM and needed emergency yoga when I woke up. The second day ended with the big gala, until 4 AM. I felt like Thor the Avenger, squeezed in four hours of sleep and skipped yoga. I was cruising, feeling fine.

On the last night, the dream syndrome got me. As if I swallowed a truckload of mushrooms. I philosophized about tango anthropology while watching vaguely familiar people dance in the distance. After the last tanda, I returned to reality when the DJ played James Brown. “I guess it’s Encuentros for you, from now on,” my friend said. I scoffed. “I have to beat this Big Event thing”, I said. “I’ll be back.” “Great! Remember to bring your brain.”



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Published: 3 Jul 2023 @ 21:13

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Mina Legnered commented:

Love La Cita de los Amigos! Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 And fun image. (Marta’s a great photographer) Makes me inspired to bring my daughter along to the next event. She’s one year 😀 /Mina – Read
Comment | Mina Legnered | 7 Oct 2023
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