The Big Pop Tango Marathon 2017 (11th – 13th August) was the first edition of the marathon of John, Stephanie, Paris, Helen and Andrea. Maybe you already met them somewhere in Europe as dancers or DJs. They are not newcomers. It was in fact a surprise that they waited so long before organizing something. I think it is just because they wanted to be sure to offer something nice.
There are so many options to travel during summer that it can be strange to choose Manchester in place of the sea and the South. I was appealed by the insurance of a good organisation and by the promotion which had a style all of her own. When you see the details, you can already guess organizers are fully involved. Even in this situation, it was a surprise to feel a wonderful armosphere, even better than expected. Speaking with friends after the event, we all had the feeling that we received more than what was on the paper.
Big pop marathon takes place in Manchester but not exactly in the city center. The marathon is organized in the suburb, in Altrincham. This city is not far from the airport and has everything of the little british town with a little center with bars, restaurants and fish and chips and long streets with typical houses and gardens (as you can imagine in UK). In August, it was a good moment to wander in the streets. Not so far, I was really pleased to visit Dunham massey hall, a parc with a castle and a lot of dears. But let’s come back to the tango.
One special characteristic of the event – there was two venues, a wedding house for day and evening milongas, and the ballroom of a football club for the night milongas. English rules explain this situation as most of the places have to close after midnight (same rule as for the pubs). The wedding house offer a big dancefloor and a lot of space to relax, have a snack, drink, etc. The place was nice and relaxing with polo players in the garden. The organizers took care of the air and talk powder as it was getting warm really fast. The night place was smaller and simpler but with a long bar and space all around to sit with tables. In fact, I found the dancefloor better in this second place. The two places were located in the same area so it was not too hard to leave one to join the other. For the accomodation, the best option is to select your hotel just between both, so you just have 10 minutes walking to each places.
The best point of the event was the participant selection. The mix of well knowns and open unknows created a good vibration. Dancers came from all around Europe and I think it was not so easy to attract dancers in a non-capital city. The other international event I went in UK was mainly composed of dancers from UK. In this configuration, you feel quickly the group of dancers by cities or closed friendship. In Manchester, you could clearly see the support of the community with a number of friends and also organizers. I recognized several groups of dancers that usually bring a positive energy to an event. There was also people from UK and the biggest group was of course from London. Usually, Manchester dancers are travelling to London but this time, it was the turn of London’s dancers to travel to Manchester. Just between ourselves, I heard a lot of bad comments about London’s dancers before the event and I didn’t understand why after meeting directly these dancers in Manchester.
You will not be surprise if I tell you the bad point of the event was the food during the days and the evenings. “Yeah, French people speaking about food in UK, what a surprise…”. The catering was organized by the wedding house and it was not tasty at all. The worse was the staff, unpleasant and stubborn. Before the end of the event, the organizers were already considering to change for a restaurant near by in case they decide to go for a next edition. But note, there was also food at night, a home-made buffet. And this one was pretty good. People arriving for the night milonga were pleased to have extra food to fill up the bellies before dancing until dawn.
I had only good mood with the music but I didn’t expect less from John is a DJ and will really take care of the music. Arriving late on Friday night, I skipped the first milongas and missed Juliana Thutlwa music. A lost opportunity for the music but it seems I escaped the first part of the marathon where people are all gathering and still trying to fit in the event. Sets of Jens Dörr and Mary Meriu Wu were the best (I would say it was nice to listen again to Jens but it was even nicer to discover Mary), also with the banana duo of Dark Oh and John at night. Night milongas ended too early. There was still quite a good number of dancers when they had to close on Saturday. I skipped also Benedicte as I decided to rest but I listen to her selection frequently in Bruxelles. The afternoon with La Ros offers nice tandas but with an end I really dislike (overspeed and strange music). She gave me at this moment an emotional rollercoaster and in place of finishing the marathon in the best way, I just sat. I was really sad after a good Sunday afternoon.
When I read back the text, I think I described the variety of emotions that offered the Big PoP. The review is sometimes sharp but just because the Big Pop 2017 was one of the best first edition of a marathon. I forgot to speak about the team who did a great job all over the event. From the welcoming moment to the end, they were present and supporting.
Thanks to Jonathan Penny and Irina Zoueva for the pictures. You can find the full albums here:
Part 1 – https://www.facebook.com/irina.zoueva/media_set?set=a.10155178125708171.1073741915.598048170&type=3
Part 2 – https://www.facebook.com/jonathan.penny.351/media_set?set=a.1526410370757440.1073741892.100001654746409&type=3
Part 3 – https://www.facebook.com/irina.zoueva/media_set?set=a.10155192129263171.1073741916.598048170&type=3