Food for thought: how can we improve the tango dance experience in our communities?

My last two nights of dancing in Buenos Aires are not happening: I caught a cold, and stayed home last night and tonight. I decided it was more important to try to get well than to squeeze more dance time out of my visit; especially as I don't like to give colds to other people!

Most people take vacations to relax. I usually come home from Buenos Aires more exhausted than when I left. Perhaps this time, I will be ready to jump back into life.

I always come home with a list of things that I want to change about my teaching, about my practica, and about the Portland tango community. As I have a young son, I don't travel much in the U.S. tango community, so I don't know whether these problems exist in other communities or not.


1.  Guys, let's dance with the women who aren't getting dances!

Maybe they are shy, or new, or lack the confidence to really accept a cabeceo (or don't know how to cabeceo!). What I've noticed this time in Buenos Aires that I never noticed before: There are nice guys here who dance with people who have been sitting down a long time. They are good dancers, but more importantly, they are GENTLEMEN. These guys don't just dance with their favorites, and they don't peacock around, showing off. They quietly make the milonga experience better, just by being nice. We could use more of this in our community.


2.  Ladies, let's accept at least one cabeceo from someone below our dance level every time we go dancing.

Although the foreigners I met were obsessed with getting good dances, the Argentine women with whom I sat, danced with their friends, no matter what level they were, and they had a lot more fun. I would like to see more of this friendliness towards the men in Portland, rather than the snooty attitude that occurs when women try to demonstrate how good they are by rejecting lower-level male dancers.


3. Let's get to know each other as people!

There was less of a feeling of competition between women when I sat at tables of Argentine women. Instead of trying to intercept cabeceos (and yes, I sat at a table of competitive foreigners who would lean in front of others to cut off their view of the men), Argentine women chatted with me. They directed my attention to better dancers with whom I might like to dance, and my best tanda of the entire visit came out of my table partner digging me in the ribs and saying, "Hey! Look! That guy who is a really good dancer, is looking at you! Look at him!!" I am happy to see that the women in my community are starting to meet outside of tango, and to make friendships, so that there is more camaraderie at the milongas. This is a good start.


4.  Let's introduce new people to our friends and ask our friends to dance with them!

As a teacher, I feel this is part of my duty to my students, but shouldn't everyone try to expand the feeling of community by including the new people more? That person might not dance well now, but maybe they will in the future. Or, perhaps they will never dance well, but they are a wonderful person who we want to stay in our community. Or, perhaps that person will become your best friend! Someone recently told me about a very difficult time in their live, when coworkers were unsupportive, but their tango community reached out to them. 


I guess my main point is: let's spread that tango love! We have a choice as to how we act, so let's start the New Year with a resolution to be better community members!