Tango itself is a passion, and even an obsession for many, but like anything else, after a while, you can easily get burnt out in Tango over time. The honeymoon period for anything is always a high of obsession, but after that dies down, you can see what Tango is for you.  Some people get discouraged from progress, not dancing with who they want, priorities changing, or any number of things, or you find it a love that you will continue with for years to come.  For myself, Tango is a love of mine, and I see myself doing it for years, even my whole life, but to what extent?  Will I continue to dance 3-4 times a week like I have been for the past 6+ years, or will I slow it down more? From organizing a practica, being asked to teach through the local college tango club, and also teach through a dance studio, I’ve spread myself a bit thin and over stimulated and stressed from trying to do too many things.  Is there a burnout coming for me?

Burnout for Dancers

Tango isn’t for everyone, but those those that are captivated by it, it becomes part of your life, whether for the short moment, or something more profound. At what extent is tango part of your life? If you are just a dancer of Tango and aren’t involved in more with your tango community for organizing, teaching, and the like, then your burnout and interest will most likely revolve around your peers and fellow dancers. If there are good friends and dancers in your community and you get along well, you can find your tango life to keep flourishing as there are people that hold your interest into the tango. But what if the other dancers or community is smaller, or more sparce?

When I’ve seen dancers come and go into our little tango community, it’s usually from moving away, and as they move, we lose a committed member of our core group. As such the numbers of people who liked dancing with them now have to compete with others for the fewer dancers for that particular role. When you or others start to feel you aren’t getting the quality or amount of dances you want at the events, you may find yourself disinterested more in Tango.

Photo from my LG G5 at Burning Tango 2017

Is this a Tango burnout, or more of a Tango fall off? Either way you see it, it is something that not only is effecting you, but others as well in your community. So what can you do? If you don’t want to feel discouraged and you love Tango, you might need to bring friends or others into the dance to fill the gap. This might sound appealing, or the thought might push you away, but it something you can do to help fill those voids that others who leave. This will help only for this situation, but what about others? Lack of class challenges, few at your skill level to dance or practice with, other dancers who you aren’t comfortable dancing with, or a few others also come to mind.

If classes aren’t fulfilling what you feel you need, you can chat with the teachers, most will take your suggestions to heart and might refer you to another teacher who could help, or add things or focus on things more in a class or few. Teachers want to help you, and want input from their community on what could be better. Maybe a private lesson every once in a while could help. This almost starts to get to the territory of not having someone at a similar skill level to practice or work with, which is a matter on just asking, or finding someone, or bringing someone in. You will have to be pro-active if you need/want someone to help, and don’t be afraid to ask those that are more experienced dancers, they might have the same problem and happy to work with you and then you both can start improving once things level out between you two.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

So much with Tango burnout and fall off has to do with being proactive and finding those to you can work with going forward. If there are people you don’t dance well or connect with, you can mention it to them, and use Practica time to try and see what works.  Maybe your styles will never work together, or maybe it will improve you both or get a good understanding a report between not just you, but others who are similar.

And now we get to one of the biggest examples I’ve seen of Tango burnout, and that is from lack of enjoyment or that Tango becomes more work than joy. If you’re a perfectionist, Tango will eat you up, and if you’re lucky you will survive, but more self aware of everything that needs improving and all the flaws. Striving for being the best, improving and perfecting your technique, working on competitions or choreography, these not only take up all your practice time, but you’ll find yourself constantly working on them even at social dances. Yes, this has happened to me and some partners in the past, but I’ve gotten to the point that I feel the need to make sure I have fun at as many tango events as I can, quit practicing at every practica all the time, allow myself to be helpful to others, to dance.  To dance, that is what Tango is, so dance! Maybe it takes you going out of town where no one knows you with a friend and just have a night of dancing without anyone or anything else getting in your way, find that joy of tango without the work!

Organizer & Teacher Burn Out

The past 6 months, I’ve found myself in charge of a practica, teaching through the college, and teaching at a studio 1 hour away, all in small communities where attendance is low to the point I break even on the costs of gas and venue rental and that is it. Does Tango offer a living, maybe if you populating is big enough, but in smaller areas, it does not from what I’ve seen and heard from others. It’s hard to want to spend the 2 hour round trip and 1.5 hour class time when 0-5 people show up, on top of a full day of work and two other tango events a week. It’s exhausting, and I’ve found myself just wanting to step away completely because as much as I want to try and grow things, I don’t see many others trying to do the same. So i’m burning out, my desire to keep going is dwindling, and I’m stopping my weekly class that’s an hour away after this month, and stopping through the local college.  I’m even trying to see if someone else wishes to be in charge of organizing the practica, so I can come and help if needed or just dance.

Having a day job, then having a second job 3 nights a week that doesn’t pay is discouraging for anyone, especially since it doesn’t  do more than barely pay the space rental. I don’t have the extra time or funds to advertise, get materials, decorate, branch out, network, socialize, and more.

Photo from my D5600 at Connect 2017

I see other teachers here are in the same boat, when they have day jobs and tango is just a passion, it’s hard to keep everything going and you get into a pattern, where effort is minimal. This can hurt, and it’s due to people able and willing to help/volunteer their time so it’s not a single person doing so much.

I’ve have one person helping me with the practica for setup, which allows me to do a little extra and makes it manageable. The classes take more effort which I haven’t been able to focus on as I have a few different ones at once and the practica to take care of.  There are only so many hours, and I need my own time to do other things in life. If I could focus on just ONE thing, I could try and make it shine, but that is not what is happening.

Photo from my D5600 at Portland Tangofest 2017

What is needed?  To save myself from this burnout, I need to focus on one thing.  I’m happy to assist here and there, but I can’t be in charge of more than one thing. Others need to step up, I don’t even have the energy to reach out, but I guess this is a way to reach out as well. If you’re a teacher and organizer, make announcements that you need others to take charge of different things, you can’t work alone. You need the whole community to work and help, else not only will you crumble, but passion will too.