As I prepare to return to Europe, I want a new relationship to tango well before any milonga beckons. I suspect many of you also hope to return differently to tango – or hope that it will be different upon our return.
We associate tango with large, crowded rooms, and anonymity – milongas. Yet we all know that peak tango can happen in a room with only three couples dancing. Let’s take that certainty and build tango around it. The courage and imagination that brought each of us to tango can be brought to bear on creating safe and fulfilling tango right now.
Besides flawless composition, Gorey’s art is the conjunction of an “aesthetic preference for the understated and the unstated” and an “attraction to the highly stylized”. He tended to “leave out most of the connections” so as to offer his witnesses “ambiguity” and “subtlety” which give space “for imaginative participation.”
The agendas of our 2016 and 2017 shows, remastered in 2020: To show tango with contemporary culture: fashion, music, and gender concepts. To get tango off the stage, out of the milonga, and into daily life (symbolized by the architectural space of the station). To celebrate tango’s place in the African diaspora and propose tango learning and socializing in a hip-hop cultural context.
Most of us are familiar with deskilling in manufacturing. It means designing the production line so that each worker does only one small job over and over, and it’s easy to train anyone to do that one thing. This increases flexibility and power for the company while decreasing the meaning, opportunities for development, and power of workers. Deskilling also applies to retail, where workers are no longer experts on what they are selling, and do not provide personal service to their customers, but just stock shelves and ring cash registers. I observe that the deskilling of manufacturing and retail depend on the deskilling of the customer, who is no longer able to assess quality of products, nor repair them.
A few days ago Maestra Dana Frígoli announced by youtube video that DNI, the school she founded with Pablo Villarraza in Buenos Aires, will not reopen.
A few days before that, Mona Isabelle announced definitively that Tangoloft will leave the luscious and beloved Gerichtstraße location.
Willpower has limits, especially with regard to deep wounds, compelling habits, and self-destruction. Many people find meditation or spiritual rituals more effective. I like to find rituals that don’t involve hallucination. I like to rearrange material things or relate to them in differently in ways that radiate, echo, and hopefully restructure my bad habits. Rather than doing an affirmation about overcoming fear, it seems useful to me to actually induce panic and get through it, every morning. To start every day discovering that I am stronger than I knew.
So whatever sense of powerlessness was afflicting people was in fact inaccurate. For how long have we been mis-assessing our power? For how long have we had everything we need to repair the world? For how long have we been living in danger and deprivation that could have been defeated by courageous collective action?
The path I chose was at that time the least comfortable, the most unknown, the scariest. The next few hours, in which I implemented my decision, were drenched in fear. What had I done? But I knew that my fear was part of the fractal unfurling across our planet, identical in its most mundane and momentous iterations. The Distance has been an aperture to many changes. Some intentional, some incidental. Some little, some big.
Addictions are harmful in various ways, but never 100% harmful. In other words, most addictions involve some dimension(s) that are normal, reasonable, and healthy – such as having a sense of belonging to a community, creating a sense of identity, and having profound and intense experiences. Behavioral addictions usually involve an experience of personal development, building skills and expertise.The fact that tango has healthful and meaningful aspects, including a rich social life, engagement with cultural heritage, skills-building, and artistic expression does not obviate dangerous addiction.
NeoTango is beautiful, but it only exists because we have been made to feel unwelcome in Tango. I do not accept being excluded and I certainly do not revel in it. Because we have been thrown out, a whole bunch of people like Ron Fenton, DJ Elio, Thanos Kasidis, Tanguerilla, Andreas Lange, Sonja Armisen and so many others have volunteered so much time, energy, and financial risk to create a whole separate scene of neotango so that we feel comfortable to dance. I do not accept exile.
In this Distance from milongas, I dance alone with the ocean. What are you doing and how are you feeling about tango, with the perspective of some Distance? I created a workbook to help us think about this.
I believe that many dancers will return from the Distance with a renewed care for our community and a desire to rebuild it with great love. I believe many people will be inspired as never before to share the gift of tango, feeling now perhaps more than ever before the preciousness of gathering, and embracing. Indeed my student Josh is already preparing a class for his community, a clean and sober gym. We had a conversation about how to think about teaching, and this post contains my notes:
The purpose of the codigos is to protect egos from rejection. But what goes missing when that is the only system we have? What indeed is social, and what social dimensions of tango require care? Let us consider what we can do about that when we return.
As a gift during this sheltered pause, I’ve created a free video series, Fashion Tips for TangoMen and Milongueras and Muscle Training to come back to tango stronger than ever.
- Advanced Dancers
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- Considering Tango?
- curated shopping
- Getting Started
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- other dances
- Secrets for Men
- Style Guide
- the Berlin interviews
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