Election day is today. OK so I'm supposed to be really excited. But as a little Tango teacher in London, I'm not. Sorry Mssrs Brown, Cameron, Clegg et al…
In fact, I hate it when Tango gets political. How? Maybe it is me being a grouch, but I think that the milonga and Tango should be exempt from all that. "DREAMER!!" I hear you cry. For sure, did I say that I think Tango is a social dance?
All I want to do is go to the milonga and dance, I like to watch people dancing, to talk with my friends about everything under the sun and to relax in the haven of the milonga. I don't care who is organising it, and if I get a warm welcome that's a plus. I love great music and a nice environment (one that respects the codes), but I know that this is not the case everywhere for one simple reason, every place has it's identity and Buenos Aires is unique. Will I get in a grump if the space is not brimming with only the best dancers for me to check off the do-to list, er no… Why? Because the only message interrupting your experience is a change of orchestra or someone who can't use the cabeceo. Not exactly the stuff of Armageddon.
So the politics comes when people appropriate Tango for their cause, whatever it is. Be it getting you to come to their classes by dancing with you (or not), them thinking that the milonga is a practica, their charity for a yak farm in the depths of Mongolia. I know Tango is hard, but in comparison to this is it so hard to just embrace someone and dance?
I have a picture that I bought in Buenos Aires a few years ago. It is of two girls dancing (Tango) in the street, probably San Telmo. Behind them is a banner which say "no me importa tu revolucion, si no puedo bailar" translated as "I don't care about your revolution if I can't dance" Here's a very bad picture of my picture (i'm still trying to get used to the very nice Hipstamatic app on my now cracked iPhone)
The girls look beautiful and this picture sits in prime position in the garden shed and never fails to attract a comment from everyone who sees it. At the time I bought it, I didn't realise that this was a quote from Emma Goldman. I looked her up and was suprised to find out that she was an anarchist, "Those anarchists are trouble" I could hear my Mum say. And then some vague memory of East Indian politics also sprung to mind. Actually though, when I read more about her, she was just someone way ahead of her time and who wanted to make a change. So why and since when did the term anarchist become associated with nutcases?
And whilst there has always been a bit of business in the milonga, why has it become just that? I mean I've been struck by what people will tolerate all in the name of their perception of Tango? Inadequate spaces, awkward timings, expensive bars and let's not get started on the toilets. Then there is the business deals on the floor of the "come to my class" or "you need private lessons with me" genre, the burden of two small trees on the flyers table. Then the shoes, the clothes, the workshops. I feel like I need a cup of tea and a sit down.
So on this apparently important day I want to ask, if we are capable of initiating change in the way we lead our lives, the way our Tango develops, don't we have a responsibility to 'vote' for quality of the scene in London or anywhere come to think of it. Surely there's no point complaining about the level of dancing or the venue, or the music, if you're not making an effort to change that. Now that would be a cause worth hijacking Tango's name for.
For those of you who don't know, I have my own milonga, it's called Abrazos. I should declare a vested interest in the name of fairness. It's honest and warm just like an embrace should be, it's also probably the smallest milonga in London in terms of numbers, but that's cool, because I can dance in this revolution.
Off to vote now. : )