Festival Review: Tartu Bachata Summerfest 2021

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This is a review of Tartu Bachata Summerfest for social dancers. It took place from 6th to 8th of August 2021 in Tartu and was organised by Latin Passion studio. Using my experience from having visited 15 international social dance festivals over the last 5 years, I will take into account different aspects from organisation to workshops quality and give the event a score out of 10.

I have been wanting to start writing festival reviews for a while now and this is the first one in the series. Hopefully these reviews will help you decide whether it’s worth going next year, if you couldn’t make it this time.

Workshops Quality

The instructors giving workshops were Leo & Jomante, Donatas & Laura, Deividas & Jurgita from Lithuania, Julian from London, UK, Vrajim and Gerli from Helsinki, Finland and supporting local teachers Anne-Ly, Mirjam and Marino.

Most of the workshops were high-quality and there was a nice variety of themes – partnerwork, men and ladies styling, footwork and even a spicy heels class (which I have recommended as a supplementary class for ladies). I loved that there were sensual, dominican and fusion classes to show the variety of bachata styles.

Something I noticed was that the level of workshops wasn’t indicated on the schedule, so I imagine some beginners could have been struggling in classes that were really for intermediates. Some of the teachers could have improved their teaching methods, but they were nevertheless all inspiring dancers.

Venues

All parties and workshops venues were great. The workshops took place in the beautiful and spacious Respect dance studio – there was a lounge area with bean bags, changing rooms for men and women, many windows and natural light, good ventilation and even an option to divide the big hall into two. The only downside was the remote location – it had a grocery store next to it, but no restaurants nearby.

Friday and Saturday parties took place at Latin Passion studio in beautiful Tartu old town, which had multiple colorful cosy rooms for dancing across 2 floors and even a rooftop terrace with hanging lights. Dreamy!

Sunday party location was lovely as well – terrace in the city centre next to the river and an option to dance indoors at Green Room Cafe in the case of rain.

Organisation

As it often happens with first-time events, the organisation part was sometimes lacking. There were things like some bathrooms not having anything to dry hands with and nobody telling guests that there was actually a changing room at the workshops venue.

I would have wished that they were more active posting to the Facebook event during the festival, however the most important announcements were sent via SMS, which is a super smart thing that other festivals could also adopt!

Thinking about international guests – I have no idea how they found the Friday party location, since there were no signs outside except a handwritten A4 paper stuck onto the door. Moreover, how did the guests find people to ask help from, since the staff and volunteers weren’t wearing anything that would have distinguished them from others?

I would have also expected a more detailed explanation on how to reach the workshops venue, since it was far from the centre. The only suggestion I saw was “use taxi”, even though a bus would have been a cheaper option.

These last three points are simply guesses because I am from Estonia, I knew many people and didn’t have a hard time with these things personally, but for review purposes I am trying to put myself into the shoes of a travelling visitor or someone new in the community. Many of these shortcomings make me think they weren’t probably expecting many international guests, and it’s understandable, since travelling isn’t exactly easy right now.

Schedule

Everyone on the first workshops day were on time and things ran surprisingly smoothly. The second day was a bit of a mess – first workshop started 15 minutes later because of technical issues and teachers of the second workshop were 30+ minutes late. We had to wait a while and the last workshop of the day had to be shortened from 60 to 45 minutes.

Generally the schedule was put together nicely, however because of the remoteness of the venue, 1 hour lunch break wasn’t really long enough for me to go get food from places that offered vegan and gluten free options. I had a car and I was late on the first day and nearly late on second, even though I did as fast as I could. The ones who were able to find food from the nearby grocery store were fine.

Attendees

The leader-follower balance both at the workshops and parties was great and the crowd was nice and friendly. Saturday party had an extra wave of visitors from Tallinn, as well as many international guests from neighboring countries throughout the weekend, so there were lots of nice people to dance with. Full points for this category!

Parties

I loved that there were rooms for multiple styles – 2 rooms for bachata, rooftop terrace for salsa and a small room for kizomba and zouk. I spent most of the time at the bachata room and the music was really good – the DJs Vrajim, Julian and Marino did a great job! There was bachata moderna, dominican bachata and bachata remixes – something for everybody. The other DJ’s included Maxx who was responsible for salsa, Kristjan for kizomba and Lilian for zouk.

The shows on Saturday were amazing, however the room was WAY too small for performers and audience to fit in comfortably. It was a pity, since the impressive shows would have deserved more! The overall vibe for Friday and Saturday parties was fun and lively. Sunday after-party however was a flop, since most people had gone home and most of the locals were apparently too tired to come.

Conclusion

Overall I would give this event a 7/10. There is room for improvement but the vibe and people were great, venues wonderful and instructors inspiring.

If they organised this event again next year, would I go? I most likely would, since I had a great time! Keep in mind however, that I am a bit biased, since for me it’s a local festival close to home (2,5–hour drive) and there were many of my friends attending. I’d say it’s a must for all Estonian bachata dancers and recommended for people abroad who find the list of instructors appealing. Obviously if they repeated it next year, it wouldn’t be a copy-paste of this year’s event but hopefully this review will give you an idea of what it could be like.

Photos & Videos

(more to come)

  • Choreography challenge video:

I paid full price for this festival and all opinions are my own. If you’d like me to visit and cover your festival, contact me here.

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