It’s been years since I started my Tango Voyage, and over time my view points on many different topics have changed.  These view points will also change in the future I’m sure. But right now, at this stage, there is one topic that has moved to an somewhat unpopular opinion, and that’s about the whole it takes two to tango.  What do I mean by it takes two to tango? This actually has to do with lessons and learning, the mentality that when advertising a class that “no partner required” and drop in classes is more of the norm.

No Partner Required

Now if you have a good community and people able to help that are more advanced, then you can get away with this type of class, but if you’re growing your community and there is disparity of roles, I find it somewhat silly, and maybe harmful. I started a series, no partner required, did some advertising, got a good selection of people, encouraged switching, but like many classes, there was a role imbalance. This role imbalance caused by the end to have the classes dwindle less and less and feedback from others who left were they didn’t have someone to really dance with, they didn’t really have a partner to work with and improve with.

So right away, lost people who didn’t feel they could work or improve on their dance especially with a slightly higher learning curve.  It’s not like salsa where people can easily switch roles and after a few classes can dance and have fun even as complete beginners. So the lack of having someone to practice with, or work with, to improve with caused a barrier for retention.

Photo from my LG G5 at Burning Tango 2017

So what is something to combat this problem, at least in the smaller community? Either encouraging and getting people to work together to actually become dance partners and pushing that agenda, maybe switching less in addition to the above, or get more experienced dancers to join and then work with the new people and become a dance partner and encourage those to stay. These things will help, and if you have the right group and community can work great, the other option is of course, to require partners. This can be a very unpopular opion to require people to come with a partner, at least highly encourage it.

My start with tango would have ended short if it also wasn’t for my friend being my partner and working with me each week, encouraging me to stay longer, keep it up, and move forward.  Without her, I would have stopped way sooner and wouldn’t be so in love with Tango. A partner, be it someone better, the same level, or newer to the dance will keep you involved. Allowing drop in or people with out a partner can work, and is great to not exclude people completely, because you can have people rotating in and out. Plus when you’re new to tango and getting your feet wet, there is a lot of solo work where you don’t NEED a partner right away (but it would still be beneficial).

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

I’ve joked with friends, saying they need to tango date one of the new people for the first few months at the classes or practicas.  It’s really more mentoring someone for the next two months in Tango, invite them to places, practice with, help teach a a little, make new friends, keep everyone interested and maybe even rediscover tango for yourself.

Mentoring and your Community

So when was the last time you got together with your community to chat about what people want, what would help improve attendance, how to bring in more dancers? I can’t recall the last time people in my community ever did such a thing, it’s always been small group talking with each other, but never branching out past a few people, or just by word of mouth and rumors. I’m working on finding a day, maybe before a practica to have a group discussion about these topics, and try to turn it into something much more frequent and hopefully monthly.

So it may Take 2 to Tango, but to grow it might take more, you may just need yourself to start, to practice, or just to solo dance down the grocery isle. But one thing is for certain, if you are just by yourself, the chances of success, growth, and attendance is much smaller than if you just had someone join along side you.

Photo from my D5600 at Connect 2017

What do you think?  Should communities meet up and discuss their own growth? Do you really need a partner, or are no partner required classes just fine? Do we need some good mentoring program in Tango?  Let me know!