Friendly but not Friends

postitleswirl

Dear Dancers,

I write today with a sad confirmation of things I suspected. I hope to learn that it is somehow incomplete.

As you know, TangoForge has been documenting our knowledge of tango in various online education tools. In these 7 years, I’ve made many different “offers”, and collected data on the various results. I know that our flagship product, the MasterCourse, is the most popular of the four parts of our Digital School, despite being significantly more expensive than the others.

On just two special occasions I have offered discounts. The 2020 MasterCourse Challenge offered an intensive 16-week access. In every case these offers have received enthusiastic response.

This is because the MasterCourse demystifies tango in just 10 compact hours of video. This empowers dancers to understand their progress and take control of their tango education.

Recognizing dancers’ increased dependence on online materials and the financial difficulties many people are facing, in December 2020 I launched the biggest discount *ever* on the full 18-month MasterCourse enrollment (which also includes access to all the materials of the Digital School, free entry to our live workshops when they are allowed to take place again, and six private video chats with me to answer questions).

Even at only €3/week, nobody has enrolled.

It’s easy to blame lockdown fatigue, even despair. Will we ever embrace friends and handsome strangers again? It’s even easier for me to blame my own failures of clear communication about the offer.

Those could explain a low enrollment. But online lessons are going strong. And even with my imperfect communication, zero is an unprecedented response to my offers.

The crux of the matter is that to gain this huge 47% discount students must enroll with a study buddy, a friend. Not the same thing as a practice partner, but a friend near or far with whom you would check in regularly by video to keep each other on track, discuss things you don’t understand, talk about what happened in your practice sessions…

And I am here today to report to you that my darkest observations about tango seem to be true. Tango is friendly, but we do not make friends. Not the kind of friends we can call and say “Hey do you want to study together? We’ll get a really huge discount.”

I imagine various scenarios:

  • The persons who I would like to name as “friends” are actually dancers of higher level than me and I anticipate rejection of my invitation.
  • The persons who I spend time with at milongas and festivals are of far lower level than me, and I do not anticipate they would commit to study, or that I could gain any benefit from studying with them.
  • My connections at milongas and festivals are primarily sexually motivated. I do not consider my tango “friends” to be peers.
  • I feel too insecure about my tango skills to study with someone. Although I know many tango people, there’s not one person in my tango life who feels like the kind of friend who I can be honest and vulnerable with.
  • The friends who I usually socialize with or share a table with at milongas have different teachers. We disagree about issues of technique or learning, so our relationship stays on a very polite, formal, and superficial level, although we spend one or more evenings a week together.
  • Dancers who I dance with regularly have been resistant when I have suggested slight modifications in a position, or trying a new move. It seems they don’t want to learn, or not with me. And I don’t want to lose these relationships so I wouldn’t initiate such a conversation again.
  • At events there are people of my own role who I often greet, or hang out with between dances. These are people whose dancing I respect, and I’m sure I could learn something by studying alongside them, but nevertheless I feel competitive with them. I wouldn’t want them to know what I don’t know, or what I’m insecure about. And anyway, I don’t know how to start a conversation like that with them.
  • I feel those who call me a “friend” mostly use me for rides, housing, or dances, but they will choose others whenever they get the chance. I go along with our arrangement, but I don’t really feel good with them.
  • I do not actually have contact information for the dancers I respect. We have no relationship outside of these events.

I don’t know how this makes you feel, but I feel somewhat scared by the proposition that our connection is so tenuous.

And it breaks my heart that the brave and free-spirited TangoForge students who constantly complain that there are not more people using our technique and pedagogy are suffering these or other distances.

I also have to tell you that in the 12 years since I founded TangoForge, this is not the first time I have made this observation. There were three other times that I set up free resources which depended on people reaching out to “dance friends” to use them. In every case, these offers went unused.

Eszter Papp, “Our Social Distance8” from the online exhibition Art of the Isolation

 

As we endure the winter of 2021, decrying and mourning distances imposed on us by governments and biological threats, let us also consider the distances we inflict upon ourselves and one another.

In this spirit I offer you an entirely different challenge: Make me wrong and I will reward you.

The standing offer is two full MasterCourse enrollments for €505 (€3 per student per week), just slightly over the price of one (€479). I called this Double Down on the Distance. If you are inspired by this post to reach out across our internal distances of vulnerability, I will extend the same price €505 to THREE full enrollments (€2/student/week).

You can still do it with two, but you now have the option of sharing with a third person – either as a gift or splitting the cost. You can even add the third person later on.

If you have any questions about how it works or what you can do just send an email or use the chat button.

The offer is still valid only until the end of January.

 
 

Double Down on the Distance

What do you Get?
  • MasterCourse Videos: 25 Elements in 16 Sessions
  • Includes the KnowledgeBase Encyclopedia
    100 hyperlinked tango terms explained and illustrated
  • Includes the Muscle Exercise Center,
    with anatomical images, explanations,
    and exercises for the 10 most important tango muscles
  • Includes all three Home Practice Courses
    providing structured practice sessions
    for solo and partner training
  • All materials except the KnowledgeBase are in both EN and DE
  • instant access to all material, for 18 months
  • Each student gets Six 20-minute
    private video sessions with Vio to ask questions
    (Yes, you may join one another's sessions.)
  • Free entry to Live Workshops
    as soon as we are able to start teaching again

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We didn’t start online education in March of 2020. We started in 2014. Learn more about our Digital School