How to create change

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Unfriendliness in Tango

I often complain about the community in Thessaloniki. You probably have read some of my older posts about it. I have also written about the behaviour of advanced dancers there and I have received also a lot of comments about similar situations around the world.

Recently there was an article in Medium by a Zouk dancer who tried to get in a milonga in NY and felt the rejection and the disrespect (to say the least) of the dancers there. I also have discussed a lot over the few years of running this blog about similar issues and I have come to some conclusions. You cannot change people if they don’t care to change. You cannot change people just because you like things differently. So to all these problems, there is no solution that involves change!

Creation

Then why is this post titled “How to create change”? Because the important word is not the change. It’s the “create”! Yes. Create! So. Let’s say you don’t like the milongas in your community because of the crowd and the cliques and all these things. Can you change the people there? No. But you can leave them to their own device and go do your own thing. Yes! Create your own milonga and do it the way you would like it to be.

Easier said than done I hear you say. Of course. Organizing an event is not an easy feat and obviously, if each and every dissatisfied person organises their own milonga then it beats the whole idea of creating a substantial change. So then how do you create your own thing?

Step 1: Be the change

First of all, follow the advice of Gandhi. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” If you don’t like the way the “elite” behaves don’t be one of them. Don’t join their group. If you don’t like how older people are treated in your community, treat them differently yourself! If you don’t like how beginners are treated in your community, treat them differently! You get the idea! As I already wrote in the past. Check your own moral compass, decide if you are on the right course, and if necessary take corrective actions

It is important to show the community that not everyone is the same. It is important to show that there are people who think and act differently. It is important to lead by example. Not just by words, empty promises and nice advertising slogans. If you preach equality, no discrimination, fairness, politeness etc. show that you actually embody them… show the community that you actually mean it. Otherwise, everything will fall apart sooner or later.

Step 2: Talk!

The second important step is to talk! Yes… talk… speak out loud! Voice your opinion openly!… to your friends to organisers… to teachers… to anyone. Even if you think you are alone… even if you think that no one cares and nothing will change. You know what? You are wrong! You never know how many other like-minded people you may find.

When I started writing about the issues in my communities there were so many people that came back to me and told me how I expressed and voiced their opinion and how they were afraid or didn’t think that something would change. It’s like we were all thinking the same thing but nobody dared to speak about the elephant in the room. And the elephant kept growing until somebody said… “Hey… what are we going to do with the elephant in the room?” And then everyone jumped in agreeing and trying to contribute.

Among the people who will jump in, there will definitely be some more prominent members of the community and this will give them a push to act. It is often the case that there are hidden powers in the community who are afraid to act. Maybe they are intimidated, or they think that nobody cares, or they just hesitate for whatever reason to take the step and start something new. Knowing that there is a critical mass of people who would back them up in a potential new endeavour is a huge encouragement to take the decision and do it. Sometimes, for those people, all they need is just a simple nudge! Voicing your opinion openly will eventually give it to them!

It works!

As I already wrote, I saw changes already happening in the Frankfurt community because people talked. They said openly that they didn’t like the situation, they insisted, they kept mentioning it and in the end, things started changing. The organizers, the advanced dancers, the teachers, etc. do not have any power without you… and you are not alone. If you express your disappointment, your discomfort, your complaints and more people come with you they will realize that they need to change or lose you.

That is what has been happening in Thessaloniki for a few months now. A couple of teachers, Stelios and Despina, with a lot of experience, encouraged by their students started their own milonga. But learning and listening to the community, they try not to repeat the mistakes of the past. First and foremost by embodying themselves the change they wanted to see in the community. When you see them in the milonga (especially in the late hours when the duties of the organizers are relaxed), you cannot tell them apart from other dancers. They would mingle, chat and dance with all different dancers (known and unknown, old and young, beginners and advanced etc). They set a totally different tone in the milonga and it keeps growing!

Do you know the best part? I believe this new thing… this new movement and attitude of organizers has all the potential to create something so nice and big (getting copied from other organizers too) that the previous prestigious milongas with their “elite” crowds will inevitably become neglected and disconnected from the community and for good reason.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonigiht’s Goodnight Tango is all about new beginnings. It’s called “El Amanecer” which is the dawn and in one of its most famous versions El Senor del Tango manages to transfer the sensation of dawn and the beginning of a new day. Let’s hope that dawns like the ones I’ve written above will bring something better in their communities and don’t forget that you can always be part of them.

So how about you? Have you seen changes like these happen in your community? Have you taken part in such changes? Did you help in one or the other way to create them? Do you have any other advice? Let me know.

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