TANGO: LET’S BREAK THE RULES!

A letter by Yann Lohr; first posted at Facebook on March 10 2015.

Yann Lohr, who lives and dances in Lille, France, posted this article in French on Facebook on 10th March – immediately after International World Women’s Day. He has kindly translated his post into English for the Queer Tango Book Project’s blog:

Tango: let's break the rules!

Dear Friends, Tangueras y Tangueros,

The 8th of March, I lived a sad milonga.
It was the 2015 International Women’s Day… and yet I still saw dance partners sitting all night long… as if nothing could ever change in tango.

We “agreed” to only one “Tanda Rosa” (women invite men) during the entire milonga. During the Tanda Rosa, the dance floor was packed and a smile was one every face, then it stopped… and women went back…to their seats.

But Why? Us men couldn’t have borne another Tanda Rosa? Couldn’t we have agreed to an entire “Tanda Rosa” Milonga, or at least half of one (fifty/ fifty) … once a year?
Is Tango still a place where some of women’s rights are denied?

Today I am upset and I feel my heart sinking.
The 8th of March, I was convinced, confident, positive when I left home to go dancing that each of the World’s Milongas would mark the occasion, celebrate the RIGHTS of women, i.e. to invite who they want to dance with.

How long will we keep stripping that human right from our partners, wives, sisters, friends?

As men, we know that if we pay for admission, we WILL dance, no matter the size of the ballroom or the number of the dancers. How is it that most of the time, it’s not so for women… they will pay, but won’t dance UNLESS they are invited.

Well, as a man, my decision is taken: I will no more be complicit in this denial of women’s rights rooted in a well-established tradition in milongas (at least in my country).

A SMALL (tango) STEP FOR A DRAMATIC STEP FOR ALL THE WORLD’S MILONGAS
Ladies, no doubt you take time to make yourself pretty, perfume and make up….
or maybe spend your money on beautiful dresses, shoes, or haircuts…
or possibly you train at home, in class or during practice for your ochos, boleos, or ganchos to be the queen of the night
but… is it to hopelessly be left on the sidelines all milongas-long?
…smiling at dancer who will not invite you?
…waiting for those already taken?

What if we’d think outside the box… can you picture yourself in a different situation:

Think of coming to the milonga with the confidence that you WILL dance, because you have the social right to invite the partners you like or want to discover?

Can you feel again the enthusiasm you may have had when you first stepped in a Milonga telling yourself “tonight, it’s all night long!”

How nice would it be to just dance each tanda enjoying a total peace of mind because you know that you will dance the next tanda, and so on, until dawn peaks, unless YOU decide you stop dancing.

Do you agree that something needs to change to do that? That a rule has to be broken ? A rule WE are setting or to which WE consent to obey?
Does it make sense to you that if we don’t do it today, it won’t going to be better next year?

Isn’t life short enough as it is to take your RIGHT to dance in your hands now, and not in 10 years, not 1 year, but RIGHT NOW!
Do you agree it’s time to stop “trying to” give women their RIGHTS, but to give them room to take them?
Yes or no ?

LET’S TAKE ACTION NOW
We have a growing number of quality societies, associations, groups and exceptional milonga organizers (I’ve been many place, it’s experience speaking).
Each group can come up with ideas, test what works for them, start its policy, take actions.
I’m convinced that it’s us, tangueras and tangueros, who will help our groups to set up this change.
Wouldn’t you want that our groups lead the way?
No doubts you have many ideas, some of which are probably already instilled by some groups you’re members.
What matters is that they don’t stay just “good ideas,” but that each week they become tangible, durable actions.

1/ PROPOSITIONS
I give here 3 simple suggestions, others will bring many more, smarter and more innovative that those :
– Tandas rosa in all milongas, and with time more and more, so that dancers get used to inviting one another without gender boundaries
– Dance Cards : ladies as well as men can “book” tandas
– Cabeceo, to learn, or re-learn, how to use cabeceo (because outside Argentina where the problem may not be that important, we know very little about how to use it correctly)
Any other suggestions is welcome !
We change things when we take actions.

2/ MY REQUEST TO TANGUERAS Y TANGUEROS
Tangueras and Tangueros, if you agree and want things to change, please feel free to :
1. Like and share this post
2. Ask your groups durable changes to give back to women the RIGHT to invite men if they want to
3. and Gentlemen … if you accept (or like) to be invited by tangueras, BE PROUD OF IT AND MAKE IT KNOWN.

We all make change happen because we take specific actions.

[illustration above courtesy of Yann Lohr. Photo credits: Christinefletcherbooks.com]