Argentine Tango and R & B Music
I got a call from Adunni today.
Adunni: "Hi, Ron. I was looking at your flyer and thinking about taking the Argentine Tango class. But, I noticed that you will be teaching it to R & B music. Can you tell me what you mean by that?"
Me: "IIt is an introductory class, and I wanted to demonstrate that Tango can be danced to R & B music."
Me: "Because it will be easier to get people interested in learning a new dance if they can dance it to music they are already familiar with."
Adunni: "I understand, but Argentine Tango should be danced to Argentine Tango music."
Me: "I absolutely agree. Most of the class will be focused on the basic techniques of the dance: connection, balance, walking. I doubt that there will be very little music played at all. But, I know that the dance can be danced to a variety of music styles, and if we can get someone interested in 'diversifying' their dance as a result of seeing Tango danced to a style of music they know and love, then we have taken a big step towards meeting one of the goals of this workshop."
Last night, I went to the Tango room, an Argentine Tango Milonga in Van Nuys, California. I met a partner there, and danced with a couple other people, and generally had a pretty good time. However, on my drive back home, I could not help but remark how intensely unfriendly the crowed was. Most of the people there don't look at you with contempt (unless you bump into them); they just ignore you completely. Many of them dance with these grim expressions of self-importance on their faces all night long. I can assure you that it is only the love of of what I consider the most remarkable dance on this planet that keeps me in a room like that.
As an experienced dancer, I am used to this type of environment and make the best of it. However, for a beginning dancer, this environment can be deadly. It not only kills the spirit, but the desire to learn, or even be around the dance.
Switch reels: One of the major goals of the "Diversify Your Dance" Workshop is to introduce people who dance only one or two dances to new dances they might be interested in learning. I go to a variety of dance venues, and it is clear to me that, generally speaking (yes, there are exceptions), Steppers just Step, Urban Ballroomers just Urban Ballroom, Salsa dancers just Salsa, West Coast Swing dancers just West Coast and Lindy Hoppers just Lindy Hop. All night long. How do you get them interested in other dances? Most of them will fly around the country to attend dance events in their style, but they won't drive across town to learn a new dance style.
So, if you can't bring Moses to the Mountain, you bring the Mountain to Moses.
Lindy Hoppers and Urban Ballroomers in particular are a visibly happy, fun-loving bunch. They walk around smiling. They smile when they dance. They look you in the eyes and say "Hello." What do you think will happen when you try to get people from these environments to go to a grim place like the Tango Room to learn Argentine Tango? Exactly.
So, my motive in even mentioning R & B Music in association with Argentine Tango is to show people that they can do this where they dance now. If you like what I show you, go take lessons and get better at it. Perhaps one day, if enough of us get good at it, we'll go the the Tango Room and show them it is possible to do Argentine Tango AND behave like normal, personable and friendly human beings.
Now, that will be true Diversity!
For the record, not all Tango venues are like the Tango Room. In fact, few are that bad. I only mention the Tango Room because I just happened to go there last night, and two years ago I experienced there one of the very few overt acts of discrimination I have ever experienced in my entire life. So, OK, I have it in for them.
The Tango Room has a long tradition and large following in the Valley, and I'm sure the people who go there think of themselves and personable and friendly. My point is that they aren't very friendly to people they don't know or haven't seen before, and that's the exact opposite of what is needed to attract and welcome new dancers from other styles.