I think it’s two main reasons:
- Terrible marketing: meaningless (or somewhat frightening) words like ‘passion’ and ‘intimacy’, cliché images, music most people think is awful.
- Terrible teaching, too focused on walking, which is a boring and demeaning experience for beginners who can’t do it or appreciate it yet.
To make tango popular we can:
- Show people they can do this amazing dance on contemporary music.
- Wear fashionable clothing to appeal to hip contemporary people.
- Teach people movements they can do successfully on the first lesson, and that reveal the interesting aspects of tango improvisation (sacadas, voleos, ganchos, barrida). All the ‘basics’ (walking, crosses, change of foot, ochos, giros) require too much body control for beginners and are demoralizing. Also walk, cross, and change of foot are not very interesting movements until you have a high level of connection skills to appreciate the subtlety of these moves.
- Do real market analysis and then go find the people who like it and those who won’t.
- The most important feature of those who DON’T like it are people who are have a good time and are comfortable making new friends in bars.
- People who like it: •divorcées … •intellectuals, especially women who don’t like to smile so much, and anybody who doesn’t like small talk… • engineers/geeks… •professional women who want to find their “feminine side”… •really shy guys… •people interested in fine body control (pilates, yoga, martial arts, crossfit… )… •clean/sober looking for something that takes a lot of concentration to distract from addictions.
There’s another model, making tango more social. Read about the strategies of Berlin’s Milonga Popular, who makes a milonga like a party, with free drinks, performance art, and keeping the absolute beginners on the Milonga from their first lesson.