Why do you dance Tango?


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The eternal questions

If you followed this blog for some time you have probably understood that I am an advocate for social dancing with whatever that entails and means to everyone, but with social being the main component of it. That means dancing with your partner, with a group of people in the same space which obviously means being able to behave in a way that respects yourself, your partner, your co-dancers on the floor, the music etc.

Now apart from social dancing as a social activity you also probably noticed that I am quite interested in communicating through metaphors and paradigm shifts many of the ideas and concepts we encounter in tango. I tried to describe what connection feels to me, how important it is to dance musically or the difference that dancing to the melody can make in your dance etc. One of the reasons I do this is to be able to communicate these ideas not only between us but somehow to find a way to describe them to new dancers or even non-dancers who happen to come across this blog. As I also wrote… sharing our stories makes for great material to communicate and connect with each other and therefore bring more people into our communities. If even one person used some of the ideas in this blog and convinced a friend to get into tango… Then this is a huge win for me.

The image of Tango

As I also wrote in past posts one of the problems tango is currently facing is the image that is projected to outsiders. You know, the passionate dance, the romance, the rose on the lips, the flying followers and the sharp acrobatic moves from “Dancing with the Stars”. All these tend to cover up the image that actual social tango dancers have when we dig deeper.

We all know that a tanda can be heavenly even with the simplest of steps, that you can have the laugh of your life in this dance or that you can dance your sorrow away, that you can have a dialogue without a single word spoken, that you can surprise your partner with your idea about the music and so on and so forth. You see all this in any given milonga and you experience this again and again. It’s kind of like our common secret that we reveal only to those who get to stick with Tango.

So it’s been some time that I’ve been wondering. What if we start revealing some of those secrets to outsiders to entice them to get in and stay longer?

Social tango and performances

In a post a long time ago, I was asking the question if social tango is good material for performances. I was basing all this on the fact that there are couples out there who are devoting their lives to dancing socially and trying to transmit this image of Tango when they perform. I was arguing that we need more performances like these that don’t really shine like the usual impressive ones because they promote a more realistic image of our dance which makes it more relatable to all kinds of people.

A few months ago, Ivica also posted on his blog that although when you perform you are tempted to go crazy, performing like you dance socially is a battle with the devil which although you may lose in the end, is still worth it. In addition, in one of her podcasts, Yelisaveta suggested that the best thing you can do to get your friends interested in Tango is to start promoting it by sharing moments from the milonga. Dancers you like to watch dancing in a milonga. Get them on video… and post it on your social media.

All these ideas started turning in my head and a big question was raised. Why should we wait for a few professionals to win their battle with the devil and get their performances promoting social tango? Also, a performance is never done in a social context. The floor is never crowded, you cannot see the respect to your fellow dancers, and you cannot see the social dimension of the dance if only one couple is dancing on the floor. Yelisaveta has a point. We can do it ourselves. The internet has democratized and provided access to so many things. Why not social Tango as well? However, if each one of us is trying on our own… maybe we are losing strength. Why don’t we unite forces? Why don’t we create a place where we can find and share those beautiful milonga moments we all love to experience?

Let’s co-create

One of the biggest pleasures in Tango is the co-creation of something so ephemeral and yet so long-lasting in our memory with another human being. Since I started this blog I felt that I was co-creating content with all of you who commented and discussed the different topics. However, it was always me who somehow was leading this conversation and at some points when no feedback and comments were received it felt kind of lonely. The Facebook group helped to get more feedback and create a nice little community that inspired me for many of my posts. But I think it’s now time to take this to the next level. It’s time for all of you to help and contribute actively to promoting the dance we love so much. That is why I decided to launch the following two initiatives.

The stories corner

We already discussed the power of stories. So far in this blog, I shared many of my own experiences as stories that helped in making a point. But I am just one person and how many stories can I have to share? Also, my stories have my personal prism applied to them which makes them mine. But wouldn’t it be nice to see stories from different perspectives and lenses? So… here is where YOU come into play! Yes… YOU! You all have your own stories to tell. Stories you tell to your friends, stories of magical Tandas, funny cabeceos, amazing discussions, embarrassments that you overcame, personal growth and change, mistakes and lessons learned, mind-blowing classes etc. I bet you all have your stories to tell. So here we go. You can now write and submit your story in the form provided and I will take care to publish it in a special section of the site dedicated to YOUR stories. They don’t need to be long like a whole novel and you don’t need to overthink your writing style etc… just write it the same way you would tell the story to a friend. After all… it’s your story and you decide how to tell it! I will just pass it through some editing (correcting potential typos and errors) and publish it! I will also try (hopefully) to let you know when I do so… and then your story is out there ready to be shared, to read, to inspire, etc.

Milonga video stories

Text stories can be a great source of inspiration but we live in a very visual world. Pictures and even more so videos attract viewers and much more attention. So let’s use this to our advantage. I have just created the GoodnightTango YouTube channel and Instagram account. These will be two accounts dedicated to promoting social tango moments and stories.

You can send videos together with the related message or story you want to communicate either through pm on Facebook or via email at goodnighttango@gmail.com and I will be editing and uploading them to those channels. It doesn’t need to be long videos. I think short portrait videos of not more than 1 minute can fit as a format both in YouTube Shorts and as Instagram and Facebook reels. They just need to be focusing on a couple dancing in a social context (no shows or class reviews). The steps are not the important thing. What we care to show is signs of what we love to experience when we dance and to break myths and stereotypes around Tango.

You could, for example, focus on the concentrated facial expressions, the lost-in-the-embrace moments, the same-gender couples dancing, the high heels and flat shoes myths, the personal styles, the smiles or the dreaming-behind-your-back moments, the deep thank you hugs at the end of a Tanda etc. The point is to show to all those people outside of Tango what social Tango is for us, through moments that make us stick and want more! As an example, you can see some first videos already posted on the accounts.

I need to stress here that it is important to respect privacy and ask people on the video if they are ok to be published. So it’s up to you to take those permissions before you send me the videos. Also, make sure to have a story and message behind the video to make it interesting and engaging. Watching a couple dancing can be interesting… but when you tell a story with it… people can relate much easier! Don’t forget, we address everyone out there and not everyone knows what to look for and what really happens in a short video of a dancing couple.

Technical note: if anyone has any ideas about how to streamline the process of uploading the videos let me know. If I get overwhelmed by your submissions there might be delays. And last but not least. The fact that I will be posting the videos on those accounts doesn’t mean you cannot also share them on your personal accounts! Maybe we can also find a way to directly get and re-share them from there. Again… all ideas are welcomed on how to make the process easier for you and me.

My dream

OK!… This is it!

It’s time for YOU to shine now!

Honestly… I don’t know if this co-creation project will work… I am a little bit afraid too as with any creation… I don’t know if you will support it or not…maybe the whole thing will be too much work for me… maybe I will need more help… but I know I can trust in the power of a community that knows more than anyone else how to co-create.

My dream is that in a couple of years when people ask you “Why do you dance Tango?” … You can just send them the link for the stories corner, the YouTube channel etc. and tell them…

“For all of this!”

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

This post and launch of these new ideas would not have been possible without the inspiration from Yelisaveta’s banter and Ivica’s blog, without the story of Ramiro, without the triggering from Joseph (you’ll see more about it later), without the videos and permissions from my friends Regina, Sloboda, Eva, Angelika, Antonio and Jean Pierre. You see… It hasn’t even started and it’s already a co-creation of so many people! So Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is dedicated to them.

What are you waiting for? Go write your stories! Go capture milonga moments or dust in your archives for some and send them!

Let’s do it! Let’s show the beauty of social tango to everyone out there!

Do you have something to say on the topic?

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2 responses to “Why do you dance Tango?”

  1. David Phillips Avatar

    Early in my tango career, at a Day of Tango Festival in Austin, Diego Benavidez and Natasha Agudela were one of the teaching couples. Their performances represent top-quality salon dancing. What particularly impressed me (aside from the group and private lessons) was how often they danced with attendees, and how they always made their partner look terrific. They respected la ronda, taking only their fair amount of space, and yet, they were so musical, so clean and clear in their movements.

    For me, top-level social dancing by pros is several times more impressive than empty-stage performances.

    1. Christos Kouroupetroglou Avatar

      That’s exactly my point David. Teachers or regular social dancers… we all experience moments when we sit out that inspire us, make us laugh, transmit an emotion, etc. Moments that later on we experience ourselves. People outside of Tango watching a video of a milonga will get bored after 5 seconds. So let’s give them the context and the story and let’s explain to them what we feel when we dance.

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