Open Letter to Tango Dancers
Updated: Jun 1
Dear tango dancer,
I write to you as a person to a person. I don’t care if one of us is a teacher, DJ, organizer or a famous tango star. We are both part of something that goes beyond me and you, and, in the same time, something deeply personal. If you read this, it means tango is meaningful part of your life.
It’s been a year since the coronavirus pandemic hit the world and our precious dance is on the edge between life and death. Social distancing measure is really the opposite of what our dance is all about. There are not many people in the world that danced a lot this past year and, as things are standing, many will not dance in the following year as well (some, unfortunately never will).
These words might sound bitter, but the point of this letter is not to complain. These words are written with intention to motivate you to take action and help restore tango as it was.
It’s Up to You
Let me tell you a personal story. When I first started dancing tango community in my town was very very small: there were no more than 15 of us. We had fun, but that was not really a tango community. Healthy tango community needs schools, practicas, privates, group classes, milongas, workshops, and festivals – we had almost none of those things.
I liked the friendships I made and I enjoyed the time I spent with everyone, but I soon realized that something was missing. The first instinct we all have is to complain or go somewhere else, but that is not really helpful.
“Oh, you play cortinas?”, he said.
That was the first reaction when I started my first DJing set. You can imagine how tango looks like in your community when people are surprised when you played cortinas? No tandas. No cabeceos. Not a real tango experience.
I soon also became a milonga organizer and after organizer of practica, workshops, privates, festival, and group classes – which in time became a tango school.
My point is that if you want something to exist you have to make it happen, you need to help each other in your local community, you need to stay and work in your local community. Nothing will pop up into existence just like that, by itself. It always depends on the local community.
Well, maybe someone else will make it happen, but it will not exist for long if you don’t support it in some way. It always depends on the local community, always.
The Pillars of the Tango World
You have to ask yourself: what tango activity did you spend most of your time on? Did you liked to visit your local milongas? Or maybe you loved to travel to big international events?
Whatever it was, there was somebody who spend their time, money and energy to make it happen. There was a person or a team of people who rented a room, send invitations, spend money and time to make everything work great. There was someone who done all that with love and care for people that showed up.
Those were the people who were the pillars of your tango world. They took responsibility for your experience. All these festivals, workshops, practicas, group classes, privates, milongas, events etc. didn’t just popped up into existence – there were some people that worked for them to exist: sometimes for small or even without any profit. Just for the love of the dance.
Last year a heard of many stories of what those people who dedicated all their life to tango were doing. Some changed profession with hope that they will eventually return to tango. Others, unfortunately left permanently.
Those who left took with them all that they were doing for tango – the milongas they organized, the time spend on teaching us, the music sets they played for us, the events they made happen. Without them your tango community is smaller and dancers have less opportunity to enjoy their favorite dance.
Many of those people who helped your tango world to exist will do that again, but this time, they will need you more than ever. They were the pillars of your tango world, but now they need support themselves. Now you have to become their pillar.
Ideas How to Help
My point is that if you want something, you should contribute as much as you can. Don’t take tango and your community for granted.
I don’t say that you have to become tango enthusiast like I am, but there are some little things you can do that will contribute greatly. Even a small word of encouragement goes a long way.
Here are Some Ideas What Can You Do to Help Your Local Tango Community:
Milongas will soon start opening – you might feel safe to visit or not, doesn’t matter: if you are afraid, don’t dance, just show up, pay the ticket and say hello to your friends. Don’t forget to thank the organizer and give a little word of encouragement. Then leave! Or stay. As you wish. What matters is that you supported their effort.
Take private class with your teacher – Maybe you don’t feel like you need a private class. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you helped your teacher. You made the gear of tango life roll for a bit.
Buy a tango product (shoes or a dress) – Who knows when will you have a chance to put them on? That is less important: if you can afford to buy your purchase might make the difference between survival and bankruptcy of their business.
Invite your friends to sign up to tango classes – As soon as it feels safe, schools will open again. I don’t believe many non-tango people will rush to sign up – support your local community by inviting your friends to start dancing.
… 0r just donate! The amount doesn’t matter. What matters is that it means a lot to teachers, organizers, sellers, producers… First, it encourages them and gives them hope that things will return to normal. Second, many might be on the border of giving up: your small contribution can turn the balance. Third, do this for selfish reasons – to have your local tango community come back.
We waited for a year and we will maybe wait a little bit longer to dance again, but we don’t have to wait to help our local tango community. Time is coming when we will once again storm the dance floor and when that day comes, make sure that you to show up and contribute to the re-birth of tango.
TO BE CONTINUE...