The hardest job in Tango

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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.

After 13 years of tango, I’m so jaded that I don’t even bring my shoes. If I happen to have them, he had better give me a very good reason for putting them on.

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.

We all need more students, more dancers in our milongas, and great partners to dance with for the next few decades…

How can we Popularize Tango?

marketinggyide cover  e

Marketing is about Who is in the Room with You.
And Why.

 

With Sven Elze, Founder of the very popular Milonga Popular – Berlin, we’ve created a Thinkbook for Organizers, exploring how we can define the Tango Tribe who will resonate with each of us, find new marketing channels, craft resonant messages and images, and create experiences that make students fall in love with Tango from the first session.

Enter your email below for immediate access to the Thinkbook…

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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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