One Tanda with Ekaterina

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Ekaterina Khomenko was murdered in St Petersburg on 7 September.  It is strongly believed that the murder is connected to her work as a Queer Tango teacher. (News articles: Global Voices and Queer Russia.)  

We danced this past July at the Berlin Queer Tango Festival 2014 and I want to thank Ekaterina more formally for what I noted in my blog as one of the most profound experiences of my tango life.

It was Thursday night,  the festival’s opening Milonga,  at TangoLoft.  I was dressed to mark.  I felt her intent gaze on me.  Dark and sparkling,  quiet and fierce. I felt absolutely compelled to dance with her, from quite a distance,  and that itself was a first.

In Europe there is a distinction made between the cabeceo (the mark’s contract)  and the mirada (the revel’s invitation).  Ekaterina’s mirada said more than “let’s dance”.  It said what a powerful mirada says, “I want YOU”.

And that changed everything. The girls who revel with me know that I’m a demanding mark. If they want to dance with me,  they better be ready to move.  I’ve written that there’s just no motivation for me to be tender and charming with a girl who would really rather be dancing with a man.

Dancing with Ekaterina I got to experience that tenderness for the first time.  I wanted her to feel good.  I wanted her to get from this dance what she so keenly wanted.  I was more concerned with her experience as a revel than with my own expressiveness.

But that wasn’t the whole story,  because I hadn’t yet discovered that all the girls on team Russia Queer Tango present as femmes (perhaps it’s not safe to be butch),  mark as well or better than they revel,  and cabeceo with the mirada.

After putting up with me for two songs she raised her left hand and took over.  Apparently that was what she really wanted and her assertive lead was as clear and intent as that mirada.

Thank you Ekaterina.  I will feel your eyes forevermore.

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Queer Tango

What's TangoForge? Who's Vio?Vio is part of the international movement to Queer Argentine Tango by encouraging gender complexity and exploration and creating space for GLBT people to enjoy tango. She is the founder of of Queer Tango Boston and Queer Tango Wellington. Her students now run their own weekly practicas and classes as community organizations. Vio is committed to building and supporting Queer Tango everywhere and, through her school TangoForge, to liberatory teaching methods. She is the co-author of Aleph Bravo Tango, a novel about Argentine Tango which, among other things, encourages readers to imagine a Queerer Tango. The novel was published in 2009 and is available on Amazon and other online booksellers.

Global Queer Tango Connections

Books

Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

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