Professionals in Tango
A few weeks ago we started discussing with a couple of friends the question of who can be considered a Tango professional. The problem is that usually in most professions one needs some kind of education and most probably certification in order to actually work in a profession. In Tango there is no specific curriculum, and there are no exams and certificates like for example university degrees. So in such a market without well-defined rules of entry who is considered a Tango professional?
A few days later we discussed the question with a teacher from the community in Thessaloniki. The answer he provided was pretty much what I also had in mind. If there is no degree then in order to be considered a professional you should somehow make money out of it. It may be teaching, performing, DJing, organizing events, etc. All these people who make money out of a Tango related activity can be considered professionals. Now it could be that your whole income is from such activities or only a part of it but this only changed that you may be a part-time or full-time professional, but you are still a professional. The rest of the post will only focus on the teachers’ part of the professionals.
In a usual professional market where people provide services (like Tango teachers), there is always a kind of rating for the professionals and their businesses. A new professional can have a good reputation or rating because of his degree, the University they studied, etc. As professionals acquire experience, their rating is more attached to the results they provide and the quality of their service.
All these ratings are based mainly on specific expectations that the clients have from the professionals. When you go to a doctor you expect a diagnosis and a therapy. When you go to a German language teacher you expect to learn and be able to speak and write German. Based on the results and your experience you can drive conclusions and say if the professional was a good or a bad one and what were their strengths and weaknesses. These ratings form a reputation for a professional and this is probably reflected in the performance of their business, their prices, etc. The key element is that there are always clear and specific criteria based on expected results. The customers of the market know exactly what they look for.
Tango customers expectations
Now let’s try to apply this logic in the Tango teachers market. Let’s try to rate the different teachers based on their results. What are the customers’ expectations in this case? Learn to dance Tango. Here starts the problem. What does “dance Tango” mean? If you ask this question you will get thousands of different opinions and definitions. If you ask people outside of Tango then the answers might be (and most probably will be) totally different from what an experienced dancer would say. Even between dancers, some might have stage dancing in mind and others social dancing. This alone creates chaos in the expectations of customers. Not to mention that customers would often change radically expectations and therefore ratings for professionals during their Tango journey.
Where does all this leave us? Can we rate Tango teachers like any other professional out there? Can we say who is a good Tango teacher? The question can be answered when the customers have clear expectations. But is this the case? Do we even know why we start Tango? Is it the same reason why we continue and stick with it? What are our expectations and values in the beginning and what are they after 3 or 4 years? And then again how much influence do our teachers have in these expectations?
That is why it is difficult to rate Tango teachers as professionals. The expectations are so vague, hidden, constantly changing, and many times contradictory between different groups in the market. So since the customers don’t have clear specific stable expectations, there is no way and there will never be one to say who is a good or a bad teacher in Tango. It’s all a trial and error process.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is talking about a toy market. The subject of the song is in a different direction but it still talks about a market and any kind of market is the same. It has many options… good… medium… bad… all of them have a place in the market. When you know what to look for… you know what to buy.
What about you? Did you know what kind of “toy” to look for when you entered Tango? Did you find it? Do you still look for the same kind of “toy” or have your expectations changed? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.