Byron Bay Tango Festival 2019

The Byron Bay Tango Festival | August 23 - 25 2019

Dear friends, it’s time to let go the lingering memories of pleasure, excitement and surprise of last year's festival and prepare your imagination for new and fresh horizons. I know that this year’s choice of master teachers will excel in continuing the Byron Bay Tango Festival (BBTF) tradition of being world class, cutting edge and most of all inspirational. The world of Argentine Tango is embracing enthusiastically the artistry of Leonel Di Cocco and Carolina Giannini. Their performances are beautifully crafted and executed with the exuberance and abandon of youth and the precision of masters. We are in for a rare treat.

Your expectations of unending dancing will be satisfied by daily practicas and nightly milongas with brilliant DJs and live music from our most notable exponents of Argentine Tango, the inimitable Mendoza Tango Quartet. However, your BBTF experience will be incomplete without the interactive workshops on art (with Jan Rae) and music (with Mendoza). And finally, I urge you not to miss out on this year’s Piazzolla Concert. I look forward to meeting you in that special part of Earth that is Byron Bay and sharing that special dance we know as Tango.



Ready to register? Please complete this form.

Festival Passes. You have four options. A RED pass includes the immersion classes, milongas, practicas and special events. If you are an experienced dancer who wants the benefit of quality time with Carolina and Leonel in a class with equally committed dancers, this is for you. You need to register with a dance partner - or be placed on a partner waiting list. You will be informed promptly when a partner of similar experience has booked.
Places are strictly limited to 30 couples.

A BLUE pass does not include the Immersion Classes. If you have at least 18 months dance experience and register with a dance partner (or be placed on a waiting list), this is for you.

Most dancers who take the immersion classes also take the workshops. In this case, there is a special price that combines a RED pass with workshops.

If you want to attend milongas, practicas and special events, an economical WHITE pass is for you.

The final option is to pay at the door for individual milongas and practicas (see program for cost of each event).

NOTE: The Piazzolla Concert is a public event ticketed by the Byron Community Centre and therefore not covered by festival passes.

Payment Details. Payment is by bank transfer. Information will be found on the registration form. (Please note bank details before submitting form!) If you have any questions please email me at or phone 0413348186 (for international +61413348186).

Festival Program

Byron Bay Tango Festival 2017 Program

Festival Registration. All events are at the Byron Community Centre, found in Jonson Street, Byron Bay. The registration desk will be open from 5pm on Friday 24th August.

Immersion Class. Please note that the immersion class is for experienced dancers. As a rule of thumb, at least 3 years of regular weekly dancing and attending classes, workshops and practicas.

The festival is centred on a group of 30 dance couples who commit to a weekend of intense learning with master instructors. This year Leonel Di Cocco and Carolina Giannini will lead the immersion classes, consisting of 2x2.5hr “seminars”. The structure of each seminar will be fluid and interactive to maximise learning and retention. The following brief descriptions are given by Carolina & Leo:

Seminar 1: Theme is “Connection and perception”.
We will work with the techniques of the leader and follower roles -connection and perception-. We will work on the different systems in the tango structure and how to lead the most important tango structures.
At the end of the seminar we will be able to: Understand the tango systems and its importance in developing the creativity necessary for improvisation. Understand the principles of correct leading and following.

Seminar 2: Theme is “The creativity of sacadas and boleos”.
We will do an intensive investigation of Boleos and Sacadas . We will experiment with them to create new possibilities.
At the end of this seminar we will be able to: Execute effortlessly different types of sacadas. Lead and recognise the different ways of executing a boleo. Begin to improvise smoothly using Sacadas and Boleos .

Tango Workshops. Leo & Carolina will take these workshops, which are designed to extend and deepen the skill of dancers in a specific subject matter. Require at least 18 months of tango; not suitable for those with basic skills only.

Workshop 1: “Structure of Giros”.
We will investigate the structure of the leader’s and follower's role and how to create figures from what has been learned.
At the end of the seminar we will be able to: Create giros with different elements during the improvisation. Recognize which are the best musical moments to take the maximum of your figures.

Workshop 2: “Introduction to Vals and Milonga”.
We will focus on the musical forms and the moves that suit the rhythms.
At the end of the seminar we will be able to: know how to prepare the body to lead and follow the moves and rhythms in vals and milonga. Begin to improvise to vals and milonga.

Practicas and Milongas. Each day two x 2hr practicas are held in the Balcony Room and each evening there is a formal milonga. Casual entry to these events is available at the cost shown in the summary table above.

Each evening Milonga will feature guest DJs. On Friday night’s Welcome Milonga there will be live music by the inimitable Mendoza Tango Quartet with Solange (singer) and guest bandoneon and violin. On Saturday’s Festival Milonga, we have the popular Alex Nodelman from Sydney to prepare us for the dance performances by Leo and Carolina. We will celebrate the closure of the festival with Sunday’s Farewell Milonga with guest DJ Chris Han (Brisbane). Each of the 4 daytime practicas will feature a different DJ.

Special Events. Since 2016 the Festival has hosted a concert highlighting a critical aspect of the music of Astor Piazzolla. This year, the Mendoza Tango Quartet will explore the theme “Nuevo tango: Influence of Classical Music on Astor Piazzolla”. They will be joined by talented guitarist Joe Fallon to recreate the renown “Piazzolla Quinteto”. And acclaimed concert pianist and academic Shan Deng will introduce us to the classical music that influenced Piazzolla with pieces by Bach, Ravel and Chopin.

Open to the general public and entry is not included in the festival passes. Tickets should be available at door or book beforehand at the Byron Bay Community Centre. Mendoza will also be conducting an interactive workshop on Sunday on “Golden Age Orchestras”.

Performance Tango Art. Local artist, tango dancer and teacher Jan Rae, who thrilled us in 2017 with her light Tango Art, is again using her unlimited creativity to provide a workshop where you are part of the picture! And everyone is welcome to attend the launch of her book on Friday evening (see program).

Private Lessons. Leo and Carolina will be available for private lessons from Thursday 22nd to Monday 26th August. Cost $130 for one teacher (couple or single) or $160 for two teachers (couple or single). Email or sms for bookings:; (+61)413348186.

General Information

Here is some practical information on how to get to Byron, where the festival venue is, where to stay and what to see and do. Please feel free to post on the festival Facebook with additional information. Offers of accommodation from Byron tango folk particularly welcome!

Festival Venue.All events are at Byron Community Centre, found in Jonson Street, Byron Bay. Most events will take place in the main auditorium. The daytime practicas will be upstairs in the Balcony Room. The registration desk will be open from 5pm on Friday 23rd August. A bar will be operating from 2 hours before the start of Milongas.

Map of Byron Bay. Here’s a map that can be downloaded. The Community Centre is labelled (circle with red dot in centre). Keep your accommodation within walking distance of the Centre as Byron Bay Shire Council has a 2hr paid parking limit. Avoid driving...

Getting there. Fortunately the festival coincides with the low season for air travel. . This means cheap flights within Australia and from New Zealand. There are three airports serving Byron: two regional airports at Ballina and the Gold Coast (Coolangatta) and the airport at Brisbane. Dancers beyond Australia and New Zealand have a wide choice of flights to Sydney and Brisbane international airports. Shuttle buses will take you to central Byron, or drop you off at your accommodation, from any of the airports. It is wise to book these ahead of arrival.

Accommodation. Check out the official Byron Bay guide (good as a starting point for most activities and information) and Byron Bay Accommodation for guidance. AirBnB is also a good option. I would recommend Wake up! at Belongil Beach as a good option for shared basic facilities in a stunning location. Take the free shuttle bus or take a 15 min walk to the Community Centre. The famous Arts Factory is another budget option, also with a free shuttle bus or 10 min on foot to Centre. Up-market accommodation such as East on Byron is also a viable option when shared by 4-6 people.

Shopping and places to visit. Jonson street and the parallel Fletcher street are chockers with all manner of shops, restaurants, massage and alternative therapies centres. Take a drive to nearby towns of Bangalow, Mullumbimby and Brunswick heads, or a bus tour to Nimbin. Again the Byron Bay Guide is a good source of information.


Carolina Giannini and Leo Di Cocco

[ modified from “Milongueros All Aboard 2019”]. The dance of Carolina and Leonel combines sensuality, elegance and virtuosity. Their dance background in ballet, jazz and contemporary combines beautifully with their studies in tango with elite teachers, and results in an engaging versatility, creativity and freedom in their dance, without any loss of the precision, elegance and connection of classical tango. They’ve had illustrious professional careers with renowned companies, such as “Tango Pasión”, “Tango Fire”, “Midnight Tango”. Carolina has briefly visited Australia as lead dancer in the “Tango Inferno” tour. Leonel was principal dancer of “Tango Moderno” in the United Kingdom. Today they feature at many international festivals and have an awesome reputation as inspirational teachers and performers. Check out their many YouTube performances. Here is an example.

In addition to teaching/mentoring and performing at the Festival, Carolina and Leonel are available for private lessons. See Program page for details.


Artist Jan Rae

Byron Bay resident, Jan Rae, is an accomplished artist with numerous exhibitions and prizes to her credit. She is also a tango champion, teacher and doyen of the Byron Bay tango community. In recent years she has combined her two passions and devoted herself to what she describes as “Drawing the Language of Dance”. In keeping with the Festival ethos of including cultural aspects of tango, Jan will create a tango art performance that includes audience participation. This year there is a special event on the Friday evening with the launch of her book “Travel Sketches: the illustrated observations of a tango dancer in Buenos Aires”. Well-known Byron Bay artist James Guppy will launch the book.


Sophia De Lautour (Alvarez) and Paul Warren (“Pablito”)

Sophia is a national tango champion and director of Sydney-based tango school SoTango (established in 2013). Whether dancing simple or complex moves Sophia always infuses her dance with the accent and cadencia evoked by the music, dancing with deep connection, elegance and subtlety. Pablito is an instructor with SoTango and director of the Sydney based TangoWorks and Pablito's Easter Tango Festival. Pablito's approach to teaching tango is very heart centred with a strong emphasis on deepening connection with yourself, feeling your energy and how it connects with others. Together they will be offering a Saturday workshop on “Phrasing: the essential key to great tango dancing”. Free to all pass holders.


Shan Deng (Concert Pianist)

Winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition’s Best Australian Pianist Prize, Shan Deng is a well-known Australian-Chinese pianist now working in Hobart, where she holds a position of Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania. She has studied at the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing) and the Queensland Conservatorium (Griffith University) and holds two Masters of Music in Performance. Her awards are prestigious and numerous, including a university medal, the ABC Young Performer award, the Australian Big Ben award for outstanding Chinese youth and Fulbright and Churchill fellowships.

Shan has performed internationally and has appeared with most of the Australian Symphony Orchestras. She is an academic with a frantic schedule of engagements, an impressive list of grants and commissions, and three CDs. Finally, Shan is a fine tango dancer with a keen interest in Argentine tango music, and it is in this capacity that she will perform at this year’s Piazzolla Concert.


The Mendoza Quartet & Friends

The Mendoza Tango Quartet has quickly gained a reputation as one of Australia’s leading exponents of tango. Made up of four fiery musicians from across Australia, the group specialises in the performance of traditional and contemporary Argentinian tango music. Featuring the quintessential ferocity of the bandoneon and the velvet voice of Solange Lipcin (Buenos Aires), the Mendoza Tango Quartet (with guest bandoneon and violin players) will take you on a journey through the elegant dance halls to the underground tango clubs of Buenos Aires.

With special guests, the distinguished guitarist Joe Fallon and charismatic pianist Dan Rojas, the group comes together to form Astor Piazzolla’s revered quintet. This concert explores the contemporary side of tango, from Piazzolla to the contemporary figures paving the way into the future.

Find out more about the Mendoza Tango Quartet here.