Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Irish Masters 2013

Me - "So, you've actually booked Murat y Michelle to teach and dance at the Irish Masters in Dublin?"

Anthony - "Yes, they're coming!"

Me - "Save me a room at the Marino".


It is Friday 13 September. A lucky day for us, for we are setting off for Dublin via Newcastle Airport. The Ryanair staff smile as we board the Boeing 737-800, clutching our two 10 kilo cases that contained all that we would need for the next three days. Did they know that we were off to dance tango, or simply that our bags conformed to their requirements?

Our destination is of course the 2nd Irish Masters Tango Festival to be held at the Marino Institute of Education just to the north of Dublin city centre. This year, in addition to Murat and Michelle Erdemsel, (arguably the most talented and popular tangueros of 2013), are Daniela y Luis Bianchi and Barbra Rasp y Charlie Fouchier. The music line-up is equally impressive with Fi Gosali from Brisbane, Christian Xell from Vienna, Jorg Haubner from Dresden and Anthony Cronin from Dublin.

We take the bus from the airport and walk the short distance to the Institute. Within minutes we ascend the estate drive towards the impressive former home of Lord Charlemont, a turn of the century college formerly run for and by the Christian Brothers. It is now a thriving centre of academic excellence - the perfect setting for a tango weekend, with panoramic views over Dublin City towards the hills of County Wicklow.

Our room is in the old 1905 building, reached by wide corridors and pitch pine panelled staircases. It feels as if we have stepped back 30 years or so to the simplicity of student life. Under the 2nd floor windows, grow glorious specimen trees, perfectly positioned in the grounds when the college was built. A gentle breeze rattles the casements and distant tango music wafts from below as we unpack our dance shoes.

The itinerary of events poses a problem. It is a chocolate box of delights, but our booking demands a careful selection. We chose the rich and creamy 'Our Embrace' and 'Crowded Floor Colgadas' with Murat and Michelle, to be followed by sweet and fruity ' Making Colgadas Effortless' and 'Secrets for a Cat-like Walk' with Daniela and Luis. That is the desert sorted.

Our main course however is more challenging. The purpose of our visit is to take private instruction from Murat and Michelle. Our two private lessons are strategically placed, so that we can savour the extraordinary flavour of both, whilst avoiding indigestion overload.

Tonight we shall dance in the Friday milonga with Christian Xell and watch Daniela and Luis perform. Tomorrow will be the highlight performance of Murat and Michelle to DJ Jorg Haubner, and on Sunday the gentle wind-down with Barbra, Charlie and Anthony. Mixed between performances, we aim to dance at the tango café with Fi Gosali and her authentic vinyl recordings, take tea with Sally Townsend Blake in the charming walled gardens, and admire Hazel McNab's delicious tango clothes.

There is something special about the Irish tango community. Is it their gentleness, the subtly of their approach, the lyricism of speech or simply the warmth of their welcome? It is our fifth return, but our first Irish Masters. We already feel at home. Anthony and Eddie, event organisers, prove that they are masters of detail. As we descend for the milonga, we follow candle light into a hall of perfect sound and a dance floor smooth as silk. This romance of the Irish is not to be underestimated in the choice of international festivals. In the walled, fairy-lit gardens Anthony has placed blankets to wrap against the cooling night air. The 'edge' of tango has been softened by the security of a delightful venue and attention to our needs.

The popular highlight of the festival is the performance by Murat and Michelle. They are to dance tangos and a vals. Tangueros are invited to close a circle of life to contain a performance space. They enter from the shadows. Here, a selection of words, however chosen, cannot weave the delight of what we witness. This is another moment to be etched in the memory of dance, when space, time, personality and movement coincide to give the perfect taste of tango. They dance, and we know why we want to be a part of Argentine tango. Simple, complex, clean, sensual, artistic, connected. Feelings suffuse into our souls. Starting with the agreement of their embrace, they take us on a journey, from which there is no return.


And to Irish Masters 2014?

Anthony - "Are you coming back?"

Me - "Most definitely!"