Six deep, pervasive problems that I see in the tango world and how we could change the game

Dancer-organizers playing chess at Weller House Inn at the Tango Slumber Party in 2013. Photo by SubbusClicks. 

Dancer-organizers playing chess at Weller House Inn at the Tango Slumber Party in 2013. Photo by SubbusClicks

I believe we who love tango are at a difficult place facing some difficult decisions and I would like to share my views of the situation in case this can catalyze something helpful.

Based on my experiences cultivating local community for 12 years, I see six deep, pervasive problems in the world of tango right now:

  1. Unmotivating beginner experience. The experience many beginners have is mixed, confusing, often unmotivating and sometimes even negative.  

  2. Health, safety, gender, inclusion, consent. There is a lack of consistent education around gender equality, inclusion, consent, health and safety.

  3. Over-reliance on group classes. There is an over-reliance on the group class format which is limited in many ways: high administrative cost, low conversion, the problem of leveling, the conflicts of the teacher's role.

  4. Organizer overextension and burnout. An organizer's work doesn't create enough money to justify the energy it takes and must be subsidized by other sources of income (teaching, travel, other jobs) which leads to exhaustion and burnout.

  5. College clubs closing. College tango clubs, the seedbed of the next generation, don't have support and are closing.

  6. Hostility toward innovation. There is a climate of hostility toward creativity and innovation in general which demonstrates a lack of understanding of the deeply innovative roots of tango. There are no events (that I am aware of) that showcase creativity and innovation.

These problems are not unsolvable but they would require lots of really open conversation, development, research, brainstorming, prototyping, funding, and probably in the process a lot of exploring and healing of old wounds that may be limiting what's possible for our community.

I believe we are at a point where we really need to think carefully about changing the game. Anyone can do this with intention and persistence. I have shared a lot of free resources for those who are interested here on my site (see dropdown above) in case they are helpful and I will continue to develop them to the extent I am able.

Personally I think real gamechanging is best done via partnership, one community at a time. I am inviting organizers who are motivated to create change to join me in creating a new world of tango through what I am calling the Tango Gamechanger Challenge. If this speaks to you please contact me. And for everyone, game on!