A narrative by Carmen María Hergos

Returning once more, 13 years after the first tango festival in Cardona. That time, I had just arrived from Mexico to Barcelona, and it was my first weekend at a festival ever. Everything was a surprise, an explosion, a wonder. It was then that I decided to start dancing the leader role, when I met the people who are now my tango family, when I flirted for the first time in Europe, when I deeply identified with the relaxed, festive atmosphere that invited me to let go, to be more myself and therefore happier in my dance.

Thirteen years later, I live in France, and from there I started the journey with my two friends, Clemént and Todd, and with them, I arrived in Cardona on Tuesday afternoon. Marc was already there, of course, also Sergio with his kitchen gear, and Mónica, one of the masseuses, and a few more people. A few hours later, Anne and Lionel from Ariege arrived, ready to face the preparation tasks. That night after dinner, we reviewed the things to do. "There's time," Marc would say, always optimistic. I noted down the extensive to-do list in my notebook, laughing to myself. If there's something I learned last year, it's that in Cardona one can expect the impossible. And the impossible happened step by step, moment by moment. Todd and Berta managed to accommodate the attendees in the different lodgings. Anne and Lionel left the common areas clean, shiny, and organized, and the festival started on Wednesday night with a full dance floor. I have many moments etched in my memory: The first classes by Sebastián, with the attendees' footsteps making the floor thunder, the Thursday night wedding, when the staff appeared on the dance floor with faces painted white and red, or the first time I heard Felipe and Artur play the piano and viola together. Why do I always feel I dance better in Cardona? The floor, the deep trust the context gives me, the company of great dancers of a more relaxed tango, dear people from so many years ago, new people who are attracted by the same magic that made me come and repeat year after year.

On Friday, more friends from Barcelona arrived, and I felt great joy in sharing Cardona for the first time with those classic attendees of the Notariat milonga (an extension of Cardona in Barcelona for a few years) who are Natalia and Leandro. After a whole day of going up and down stairs, giving a class with more than 25 participants, and giving several private lessons, I don't know where I found the energy to also dance to the pachanga music DJ Kalapas (Todd) played on the kitchen terrace, where every night an intense electronic and cumbia party took place, now a distinctive hallmark of our festival. On Saturday, I gave another class, this time with thirty attendees, then played music in the practice. From there to the town square for a snack at the café with Kampa, Amelia, Lua, and their fan club, and then to dance outdoors!! Yves is now the classic DJ of this festive and nostalgic milonga, and I was very happy to dance a set with David, and his scarf around his neck fluttering in the wind and caressing my face as the song "Un año de amor" played. I remembered that time years ago when we both danced in the same square under the rain, and very moved, I said to him: It's been twelve years!

That night I skipped dinner and Marc's session on the terrace to rest for a while, but later, when Clément came to shower for the milonga, he said: "You have no idea the level of party that was thrown in the kitchen!" "I know!" I said, that's why I didn't go, because I wouldn't have been able to stop dancing. I don't know if I can describe Saturday night! The magic of live music! Narcotango trio played, filling us with unexpected energy. I value their classic songs and was very excited about the new album. However, everything changed with the thrill of listening to them and dancing to them live. Amazing! David invited me to dance the first part of the concert, with that energy, creativity, and madness of years ago. Suddenly, I found myself doing things I didn't think my body was capable of executing anymore. How did I get up from the floor again? What happened after flying? Magic, of course. Days later, when I told Savvas how we had danced, he made a very interesting reflection: How many possible ways there are to dance tango, as much creativity and connection as unique individuals, and it turns out we're trying to copy a few and grumbling because we can't get such and such a pre-established step right.

Sunday was the day for the release class with Felipe, and I really enjoyed sharing the classroom with another great non-standardized dancer. I realized that Cardona precisely promotes that: for people to feel free to dance as they are, and even beyond what they believe they are. Early in the afternoon, I was lying on the living room sofa with Lean and Manuela, and she said, "I don't want to leave." I realized I didn't want to leave either. It's already Sunday afternoon, and the festival ends in a few hours! Not yet, there were still some magics to conjure in the Palau. One of them was DJ Mona's session on the terrace, with Carlos Libedinsky and Arthur and Felipe Slimobich, and an excited Japp with their respective instruments improvising under a sky full of swallows. After dinner, one more surprise awaited me when I went down to the dance floor and found Felipe and Arthur playing a waltz that I started dancing alone and ended up dancing with Arthur and his viola in the middle of the two, while Carlos Libedisky surprised us by singing.

On Monday, the festival had not ended. I still gave a private class, got a massage from the amazing Mónica, in which I could finally allow myself to feel tired, and went to eat with more than 20 people in the town center. In the mid-afternoon, while waiting next to Clément's car for Berta and Nora to start the return trip to Barcelona, someone in the neighborhood made soap bubbles float over the narrow medieval street, and I thought: I have to write once more about all this, so that the ephemeral can be somehow recorded, and its beauty can rejoice me again and again.

I am grateful to the Cardona of thirteen years ago that welcomed me and made me feel free and a dancer, to the Cardona through the years that has given me a line of learning and teaching about tango and to which I also owe living now in Grenoble and spreading my natural tango in France, and to the Cardona of now that continues to surprise me with its moments of creativity, connection, camaraderie and gives me the priceless opportunity to give something back through my work. It is impossible for me to summarize my own experience and of course, I do not pretend to say what it has meant for the attendees, not even for the Staff. I just want to say that I celebrate the encounters, the dances, the gossip, the anniversaries, the reunions, and the new encounters. And I want to add that I am thankful to Marc and Berta for a job that is impossible to value, to the people who trusted us and came to dance and celebrate from different corners of the planet, and to all the Staff for what they know how to do like true masters: magic