Aside from the typical weekly classes, events and meetups are a big part of the capoeira culture. People go to a capoeira event to meet and learn with other people who practice different styles of capoeira. Events can be extremely fun, you pick up a lot of experience and you feel like you’re part of one big family. Some of my most memorable moments in capoeira happened at external rodas and workshops.
Almost every capoeira group holds at least one big event per year, and chances are you might organize your own event one day, or get asked by your teacher to join the event team of the group to aid in the organization. I myself have been to many big events in over 10 different countries and I have seen both great and disastrous event management. Actually, most events I visited had one or more big flaws in their organization. Only a few events were planned excellent. Over the years I’ve noticed most events suffer from the same pitfalls:
- poor quality of classes,
- didn’t deliver what was promised (e.g. fewer classes than advertised),
- delays in planning,
- bad (sleeping) accommodations and catering,
- not having the chance to play in extremely big rodas,
Most of these problems can be solved with just a bit of extra planning and thinking ahead. The reason why capoeira events are often plagued by bad organization is because the ones organizing these events don’t necessarily have the skills for it. You can be a fantastic capoeirista, but that doesn’t make your a good project manager or event planner. The reality however is that when a school decides to organize an event, they often have to rely on their own members to set everything up and you work with the skills and resources they have at their disposal. Also, the Brazilian laid back mindset isn’t really helpful when planning an event (“we’ll just see how it goes”, “no it won’t be a problem”, “I’ll do that tomorrow”, …). That might be a bit stereotypical, but that’s how it often goes.
Together with my colleague I’ve organized numerous small meetups (rodas, demos, summer camps, workshops for businesses) and some bigger events. I also was part of our Batizado team for two years a while ago. Aside from that I’m lucky to have some professional experience as a project manager and team lead. That brings me to the goal of this article (actually, series of articles). I want to share my take on organizing a capoeira event so that others can benefit from it. Based on the challenges and problems I’ve encountered over the years with event planning, I’ve come up with various learnings and conclusions which might help others. In this series, we’ll dive into my vision on planning a capoeira event from concept until D-day and the aftermath.
One more thing I want to mention before we begin: try to isolate the event planning aspect from the capoeira aspect. There are tons of resources available about event planning and project management where you can learn from. For starters, I suggest you read some articles. I won’t dive too deep into general event planning as the focus of this series is focused on capoeira events, but having a general understanding on how event planning works or basic project management will help you immensely. If you approach your event from a professional perspective, you’ll get a more professional result (e.g. hold real meetings, take notes and define roles and responsibilities).
A capoeira event can take all sorts of forms. There are small events like:
- a roda,
- a special class (e.g. with guest teacher),
- a half day workshop without extras,
Then you have bigger events:
- a full day workshop with lunch/dinner/a party, possibly t-shirts and one or multiple teachers,
- a full weekend of workshops with an opening roda on friday, a party, possibly international guests or teachers, custom t-shirts, …
- a batizado: just as a 3 day workshop but with a troca de cordas and batizado.
- a large scale event spanning 4 or more days with a lot of attendants, international teachers, …
In this series we’ll focus on your typical 3 day event (starting Friday afternoon and ending on Sunday evening) without the batizado part. This allows us to look at almost all aspects of a capoeira event, aside from the troca de cordas.
Now that we have defined the global premise, we can start planning! When organizing an event, there are a few simple tools I like to sue to facilitate planning and management. At the end of this series, I’ll share some template documents.
I love lists and overviews. They’re simple and effective in managing anything you’re doing. Nowadays there are tons of online tools (e.g. Airtable), but a good old spreadsheet still works just fine. In my event spreasheet I have different tabs:
- Current todo list
- For every small thing you need to do, add it to the list and assign it to someone.
- Task list during event
- Who is going to be responsible for what and when?
- All people volunteering during the weekend, with their availability documented.
- Including their fees and agreements you made.
- Ticket sales and registrations
- The main tab where you keep track of all registrations.
- Budget estimation
- Actual revenue & costs
- Materials lended
- Keep track of what you lended or hire from whom so you can return everything afterwards.
- Who is arriving / leaving at which airport? Note the flight and reservation numbers and times.
- Who is offering sleeping places and how many places are available.
- Event Roster
- Global planning of the activities.
Next to my holy spreadsheet I also like working with a playboook. This is a simple text document where I document every aspect of the event. The playbook and spreadsheet go hand in hand and together they contain all information on the event. In a spreadsheet you keep information concise, in a playbook you can write down ideas, concepts and remarks.
My playbooks contain several chapters, each outlining a specific aspect of the event. At first, there are a lot of placeholders and questions for myself, highlighted in yellow. As time passes I add more and more details, more questions are answered and placeholders get replaced with decisions made.
Chapters in the playbook include:
- Concept and propositions
- List of possible venues with pros/cons
- Various drafts, factors to consider, …
- Event timeline
- Marketing (copy)
- Meeting notes
I’m jumping ahead here, but when you’ve put together your event team (see part 3), set up a chat group so that you can all communicate easily. But make clear agreements: only communicate in quick and short messages about the event. Don’t start long conversations or post random stuff, as that will confuse and distract everyone. If you need to have discussions, set up a meeting.
You could also set up a chat group with all teachers, that way you can all discuss the planning of the workshops and they can get to know eachother beforehand.
Having some form of cloud storage is useful to keep everything in a central place where everyone from the event team has access to. Manage your playbook, spreadsheet, designs, marketing resources, … from the cloud.
A free plan on Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive is more than sufficient.
To be continued
Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll focus on the 5 fundamental aspects of a capoeira event: concept, data, location, budgets and teachers!