Bad Surfaces, Real Music, Action Heros


Committed now to Altertango (getting our tangos out of milongas and into popular culture), I modified the program of my weekend workshops starting from Sverige IV Halland II. I reduced the five technical workshops to two longer ones, and added three short workshops intended to make our tango more worldly.

Thank you to Jessica Phoenix for TangoForge Sweden, Carin & Thomas Münther Logistics Co., Ulla Werström B&B, and Rosie Nilsson’s Tango Experimental Strandtango for supporting the weekend.

The first Altertango workshop was about musicality. We danced to classical (Chopin, “Nocturne #20 in C Sharp Minor, Op. Post.”), jazz (Abisko Lights, “Desert Dog”), blues (Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”, an older version with less persistent rhythm section, and Jeff Buckley’s version), classic rock (Janis Joplin, “Summertime“), dubstep (Lindsey Stirling, “Crystallize“), and metal (Punt y Mes, “The Day Will End“), systematically reflecting on our use of linearity and circularity, circulation versus stationary dancing, and which elements from the lexicon we used to express different aspects of each music (voice, guitar, distortion). The weekend’s musicality exploration also included two sessions of dancing with Gaelyn Hutchinson improvising live on piano.

The second Altertango session was about Bad Surfaces. The intention of this workshop is that no participant would ever again need to say “oh the music is great but there’s nowhere to dance” or “I don’t have my shoes”.  Arriving for a beach milonga in Tylösand, we chose the most inhospitable surface in sight, a large slanted rock. Here, in sneakers and barefoot, we worked through the lexicon of tango, eliminating every movement with pivot and finding that we still had more than half of the lexicon available. Then we chose a few movements and explored their dynamic range.

Finishing the workshop, we proceeded to the sand where the local neotango milonga with DJ Lena Nellehav was already going strong. It was my first time dancing barefoot (too painful for me on a hard floor) and my first time dancing on sand.  Pivoting was easy, and everything was possible. I luxuriated in the sensuality of feet skin on skin during barida and pivot parada. I even managed to slip from my partner’s grasp and fall flat on my face, which didn’t hurt at all and was delightfully fun and funny. The warm night kept us dancing and swimming well after dark. People didn’t want to stop.

The third altertango session, and the final session of the weekend, was PopTango. In this session, I presented my own work on marketing as well as a preliminary summary of my work with Sven Elze to analyze his successful Milonga Popular. (You can sign up below to receive the full report as soon as it’s ready.) We discussed:

  • identifying the Tribe who you will be able to resonate with and inspire
  • understanding that we have One chance to get people to fall in love with tango, and what this means for first conversations as well as first classes
  • marketing images and messages
  • applying the lessons of Milonga Popular to create a tango evening that people won’t want to miss

Best of all, this session ended the weekend by decentered the focus from me as the source of tango expertise to the workshop participants as action heros in growing our tango communities.


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