About last year

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A tale of two tandas

It was around April and I was joining a milonga in Thessaloniki. At some point, the DJ starts a tanda with a song that starts with a long whistling introduction. Everyone is confused. Nobody dares to cabeseo and start dancing. Although after a while it was obvious that it was a Pugliese song. The whole first song goes without a single couple on the floor until the next one comes (I think La Tupunganita) and people start moving and dancing, including me. It was indeed an awkward moment and a big risk from the DJ’s side which didn’t pay off. I have to admit that the empty dancefloor and the reluctant crowd affected me in some way and I was hesitant to be the one on the dancefloor alone.

Fast forward a few months later and I am at the best event I have attended so far in my tango journey. Another DJ starts a tanda with the same song. The introduction this time is a sign for me to move as quickly as possible and find a partner. This time, although people are still puzzled and reluctant… I don’t care. I do my cabeceo as fast as possible and we are on the floor with some more couples while many others still wonder what they are listening to. The tanda continues and finishes with another favorite of mine… La mariposa. We are already in a trance with my partner since the first song. The embrace stays unbroken between the songs. We just stay there enjoying the moment. After the end, we hugged deeply for so long that it felt almost like a whole new tanda! And that’s one of those tandas that will never leave my memory.

As the year is already behind us, I run back to my tango memories and all I can say is that most of them are moments imprinted forever (hopefully) in my mind. I already mentioned one of them. The Pugliese tanda I described earlier was one of the most memorable ones as well as a tanda of Troilo with Goyeneche that ended a wonderful experience of another beautiful event in May. I will not go further with this because this post will get too long. To all those partners we shared such amazing tandas (you know very well when that happened) thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Elephants in the room

But apart from memories of tandas and amazing dances, there is also another important part of my tango journey this year that I cannot omit. It is this blog and its evolution. To be exact my evolution along with my blog. One of the first signs of this evolution was my post about dialog and fights in communities. A post describing how different communities handle differences comparing the two communities I am participating in. It was a post for me that signaled a big change. It was the moment I realized I had overcome my fear of talking about elephants in the room. I was no longer afraid of putting my thoughts out there even if they could be hurting people. It turned out that I was not alone. Surprisingly, I found out that so many other people had similar experiences and never really talked about them. I was also surprised by the number of people pointing to dysfunctional rather than functional and collaborative communities.

The realization of not being afraid anymore to speak up and put out my thoughts led to one more of my favorite posts. The one about the fear of creation. It was the moment when triggered by a podcast episode of Tango Banter with Yelizaveta, I identified the biggest problem in letting ourselves express emotions when dancing. The fear of having our creation… our dance… mocked, ridiculed or even just commented negatively.

Strangely enough, this post caught Yelizaveta’s attention too, and led to my participation in a Tango Banter episode. We had such a beautiful discussion about balancing between emotions created on the dancefloor and building long-lasting love relationships. Our discussion with Yelizaveta triggered another train of thought that led to one of the most visited posts in the blog for this year. The one about men, sex, and tango. It triggered some of the most interesting discussions I ever had with total strangers in Facebook groups. Having realized and accepted already the possibility that my posts can be “attacked” or be seen from a different perspective than what I intended, the result was one of the best opportunities to grow.

Having already taken the first step with the dialogs and fights post one of the next moments of this blog will be the post about Tango addicts and dealers. A post that was initiated by some new “fights” in my Tango community that led some organizers to cross my lines and trigger my response. To my surprise, my point was received from the organizers who triggered me, and to my even bigger surprise, one of the leaders in the community openly accepted his merit in all this “fight” and apologized in one of the bravest moves I have ever seen a person do in a tango community! However, there is a new post coming about the lessons learned from all this story so I will not get into more details here.

What next?

Why am I writing about all these posts? Because they tell the same story as the one with the two contrasting tanda reactions in the beginning. A story of growth… Of personal growth. The story of the blog this year for me reflects a story of a major breakthrough in my personal growth. I was rarely the person who would openly express an opinion that would create conflict. I would maybe tell my thoughts to a few select people but I would rarely express something publicly. This year and the story of the posts above showed me that doing so, speaking publicly about elephants in the room is something that some people need to do. Even if their opinions are not the best… They help in starting a discussion. When people enter the discussion with an open mind and keen to understand each other there is only one way out of them and this is forward.

So I am not afraid anymore to speak about elephants in the room. The fact that I have not done that so far for some of them is just because I don’t think I am ready yet. I haven’t yet examined and thought of the subject from all possible angles and have not found a way to express it in a way that I see fitting. But… Don’t get fooled… Their time will come.

This brings us to this year’s new resolution. As you realized so far a crucial part of this blog is you. The feedback I receive from friends and readers is so important for me to understand and find new perspectives. I have avoided creating a group on Facebook for a long time just because I thought it was not necessary. I started and I will continue posting my posts in Facebook groups I already do. However, I am not in control of the rules and I would like to have a space of people who can help in having those funny, enjoyable, and sometimes difficult discussions with open minds looking to understand each other. A place where you can actively contribute to this blog.

So I started a few days ago the Goodnight Tango group on Facebook where you can join if you are interested in taking part in this experience. Moreover, you can also invite friends who you think can help in those discussions and help in creating a nice and safe space for all.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is the song of Pugliese with the long whistling introduction that I described in the beginning. For me, it signifies the change and growth both as a person and as a blogger. Thank you all for your help so far! Let’s make 2024 an even more fruitful year!

So how about you? What is the most memorable tango moment of 2023? How much did you change? Do you have any tango-related New Year’s resolutions for 2024?

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2 responses to “About last year”

  1. Niki Avatar
    Niki

    As you know, I’ve been reading your blog with enthusiasm for some months now. I’ll try to be shorter this time. I’ll try… 🙂 Thank you for the interesting review. To be honest, I have noticed a considerable development in this short time. Today you write more resolutely, no longer so – excuse me – objectively and distanced from your own topics and allow more of your personal attitude to flow in. In contrast to earlier postings, which I also like, you seem to identify more with your words. I like that.

    Your peaceful and diplomatic nature honours you. As far as I know, you were socialised in Greece and brought up by Greek parents. Your family experienced formative political and social developments there. I mention this because your upbringing is characterised by the credo of restraint. „Think first, then speak.“ In principle, this is wise and makes sense. If you are brought up with respect and humility, it is difficult to overcome this and call a spade a spade. But the elephant in the room cannot be ignored. Just as injustice cannot be ignored by an authentic and fair character.

    In society, people educate each other just as they do in tango. Tango is basically just a microcosm. In this respect, it is always important to name and ostracise wrongdoing. Of course there is a difference between deliberate misbehaviour with an awareness of wrongdoing and inadvertent mistakes that are due to a lack of experience or hecticness, for example. If you are not sure, it is better to point out the person’s behaviour in a friendly manner and wait for their reaction. Apropos, pointing to dysfunctional or collaborative communities is only the half way. The functioning of a community depends always on the members – so on individuals. We are not a collective like the Borg in Star Trek. 🙂

    Don’t deviate from your course. To support my point of view, I would like to link the philosopher Khalil Gibran. He didn’t believe in half measures or self-censorship. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1213937-do-not-love-half-lovers-do-not-entertain-half-friends

    My tango resolution for 2024 is simple: less tango. My last milonga was almost a month ago. So far, I’m not missing anything. Instead, I would like to actively work on my memories and experiences rather than practising it. And, there are also other dreams that want to be conquered.

    But I wish you a Happy New Year with lots of inspiration, dear Christo! Να είσαι πάντα καλά!

    1. Christos Kouroupetroglou Avatar

      Hi Nikki and happy new year!!!
      Thanks a lot for your kind words. It is interesting that you managed to spot the change in my writing. I wouldn’t!
      I think the moto “Think first then speak” is indeed fitting a lot with my general behavior. This gets out in my writing too. However I don’t think it has to do with me being Greek. I don’t think Greeks think a lot before speaking. Actually… quite the opposite! 🙂 Maybe it has to do with my father or with my path in life so far. I like to not hurry myself in an opinion because I want to be as certain as possible when I arrive to that.
      As for the communities… I agree that we are all individual members of them and not a collective… but that doesn’t mean we are not influenced by other people’s behavior… especially when we look up to them. And this happens a lot in Tango communities. Monkey see monkey do!
      I am partly sad that your resolution is less tango… But since this doesn’t seem to make you sad… I’m happy for you. We all need breaks now and then.
      Ευχαριστώ και πάλι και καλή συνέχεια και επιτυχία σε ότι κανείς!

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