Travel with your eyes closed at the Puerto Rico Tango Festival 2015 in San Juan.
From October 21 - 25, 2015, San Juan, PR will host a Puerto Rican Tango Festival for the 5th time. Celebrating their anniversary milestone, this year promises to highlight the music of Otros Aires, the history of the dance and the culture of San Juan and the local tango community. We caught up with Rut Riv, one of the organizers of the event to hear more about the festival and what to expect.
How did it all begin? What inspired you to create a Puerto Rican Tango Festival?
It all began in 2010. That year Juan (Juan Rosa, Puerto Rico Tango Festival co-organizer) and I traveled to Istanbul Tango Festival and Carlos (Carlos Riverea Burgos, Puerto Rico Tango Festival co-organizer) and his wife traveled to Miami Tango Festival, and all of us had a wish to do something similar in Puerto Rico. Then we met Emily Ortiz who was teaching workshops in Puerto Rico at that time, and she was thinking the same thing. We sat together and started dreaming about the possibility to do it; and we did it in 2011!
Margaret Mead once said: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Are you changing the tango landscape in the world by bringing it to the Caribbean gateway of Puerto Rico? Will San Juan be the next destination for Tango?
When we started the festival we were thinking about the Puerto Rico Tango Community -- our goal was to re-create the experience for the local community that we had when we traveled to other tango festivals. I want to inspire the community.
I want them to travel with their eyes closed - to have the feeling of being transported to another place without leaving the island.
At the same time I want to let the world know, that on this little island there is a group of committed tangueros that give their all when they are on the dance floor. We are Latins - we are very expressive, effusive and passionate and thats what everyone notices as soon as they get here.
Are we changing the world? Well I think everyone who works with love makes a difference in the Tango world... little by little, step by step. I know San Juan is going to be next destination for Tango for North America - it is summer all year, full of culture and tradition and is easy to get here, just few hours away from mainland USA.
The festival contributed a lot to put Puerto Rico in the Tango map. Throughout all these years we received lots of emails asking us about where people can tango here; most are surprised by how vibrant the tango community here is, and the festival helps a lot to maintain that.
What's unique about the Puerto Rican Tango Festival? Which memory do you want people to come away with?
We have a unique spot on a map. We are part of the USA but we are on a Caribbean island. People can travel to the island without a passport from USA -- so it is really convenient. When people get to the festival they can expand their horizons, have a cultural infusion. We want the visitors to experience our culture, music and food.
I want tangueros to have a unique experience and feel unique. This is not your regular tango festival. Puerto Rico Tango Festival mixes tango and culture in a friendly atmosphere; and thats exactly how we want people to remember it - friendly people and the culture.
Last year all of our venues were in historical places, like old barracks and castles in the magical city of Old San Juan. We provided free salsa workshops for the participants and we did a beach milonga. We were dancing in magical venues, full of history.
Clearly, San Juan is a beautiful setting - the sun, the ocean, the antique and the new.... Tell us what to expect this year? What are the highlights of the Festival this year?
We expect this year a very diverse group of participants from different countries. Right now, we have tangueros from Canada, Switzerland, United States, Spain, Martinique, Tortola, Aruba and Dominican Republic among others.
This year we changed the concept a little -- this is our beach edition. We always pay attention to what our participants want, and they want to be close to the beach. All workshops and the majority of the milongas will be at the Hotel Condado Plaza, located right by the beach and only 5 minutes away from Old San Juan.
We will have live music from the famous band Otros Aires plus five amazing traditional DJ's. So people get to dance alternative and traditional tango in a relaxed environment in the beautiful place.
There will be daily milongas by the beach and by the pool. Musicality workshop by Otros Aires, a masquerade ball and a 1940's milonga. And for the first time we will offer Tango Bootcamp for beginners. We want more people to experience this wonderful world, so it is an important addition that will attract more people to the festival.
So if someone wants to come, what do they do? Do they need a partner? Any other helpful tips to get the most out of the experience?
If you want to come, you can learn more and register at our website: puertoricotangofestival.com. All the info you need is on the website. I look at it as a great opportunity for people to visit San Juan - it is low season, so flights and lodging are cheap but the city is just as beautiful.
You do not need a partner to participate in the Puerto Rico Tango Fest, but we are paying close attention to keep a role balance so dont worry you will meet lots of great people, dance tango and have fun. See you on the dancefloor!