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The hardest job in Tango

It’s not teaching a difficult dance to amateurs.

It’s not performing improvisation.

It’s hosting milongas.

It was too hard for me. After just 3 years, I quit when I moved to Berlin.

2019 is the year in which I start drawing attention to tango organizers. These are the true stars of our global tango community. They are the ones who find, envision, adorn, fund, staff, welcome, and clean up after tango events. They are the ones who have made it possible for us to learn, to practice and to dance. This is only possible if someone takes the financial and personal risk to sustain the spaces. And they have done this week after week for many years. Many take further and larger risks to create events and fund live music and visiting teachers.

Argentines did not get Tango out of Argentina
and build a global community
so that we can go dancing every night all over the world.
Local organizers did that.
They are the the heros to admire.

But what makes it hard is not the financial risk, nor even the constant and contradictory complaints about the floor and the music.

What makes it hard is the disconnect between the organizer’s commitment and the participants’ commitment.

For the participants, attending a tango event is a whim. If they get a better invitation, feel lazy, or if it rains, they feel no qualms about “skipping this one”.

Organizers can’t even consider invitations, illness, or the weather.

And it’s not just the participants’ money that goes missing on a whim. Even the most charming organizer cannot fulfill dancers’ desires and expectations. Only an adequately full room can do that. And despite all the work the organizers do, that is something they cannot control or produce.

What’s the best way to honor our organizers? Ironically, it’s to understand how much we each matter.

Mona Isabelle is an extraordinary organizer. The most obvious thing about her is that she infuses the room with her joy. Less apparent to the visitor is that she places each candle and each flower to create the superlative ambiance that Eugenia Parrilla (who would know) calls “the most beautiful milonga in the world.”  It would be a mistake to understand this experience as merely the profusion of luxurious elements. In fact Mona makes do with relatively few items in the huge Tangoloft room. What matters is that she attends to the importance of each element in the room and to its placement.

With all of the different events taking place in Tangoloft, the room has hardly ever been in exactly the same configuration for two milongas. Each time she gives her full concentration and creativity to making it anew.

What it would mean to honor Mona and your local organizer is to realize that you matter in her room. We are not there to consume something. We are there to create, with other dancers. The organizer can only prepare the space, with skill and love. We make the milonga.

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