Here’s another thing we know about social movements and social change. It doesn’t happen by philosophy, morality, or piles of facts. It happens by power. Policy changes happen by governments and institutions only when yielding is the cheapest course of action. So long as social protests pose no real threat, they can be politely (or not so politely) ignored. And most of us have had the experience of being part of some kind of protest or expression of dissent in an organization or in the streets, which has, disappointingly, been brushed aside. That is because in that particular situation, we did not generate the power to disrupt the operations of our opponents to the point that it became in their interest (cheaper) to give us what we want.
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.
I’ve worked at home for 20 years. For folks who are new to it and for those unable to work who are and are abruptly faced with the rather uncomfortable opportunity to move forward on your dream projects, here are 15 tools for Discipline, Self-Awareness, Improvisation, and effective Contemplation.
I need to tell you that I am feeling tremendous relief about having a break from tango.
Indeed interruption is part of the history of tango. During the dictatorship, tango became a family and home practice. It’s really not all about milongas. Let us welcome this pause as part of the dance, a needed disruption of rhythm, part of a more complex one.
The video proclaimed “if you dare to move your legs (or to enjoy the movement of your lady’s legs) you deserve to be restrained and to suffer.” And it had the intended effect which was to intimidate even the best dancers in the Wellington community from executing certain movements.
My foes are absolutely certain that I am one of those nuevo dancers, toes grazing my shoulders, back turned to my partner, dancing to ambient music in strange shoes. Actually it’s beyond nuevo, it’s not even tango anymore. My fans, who yearn for self-expression and are often berated for that, cluster around hoping that I will protect and expand the territory of freedom.
These are the folks I want to be dancing with in 5 years. You too? If so, please help me to get this film out globally to these tribes.
“At first when I started to do it like this. I only wanted to have time between to open the new piece. With time the improvisation grows, having its own character. It’s no longer an opening only. Now the improvisational part is only a little shorter than the piece after it.”
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