Saturday 27 April 2024

Ageing in Tango

The last months were just crazy, so I've not a lot of time to write here, but I gave an interview about ageing in tango from my perspective.

Check it out here: 

Sunday 6 August 2023

The Straight Way Lost

Have I lost it? I don't know...

All these years, I was working the mission in a very straightforward manner. Always trying to be a better tango teacher, organiser, dancer... Growing and maintaining a business! Living the tango life. But now I am definitely at a point where decisions have to be made. 

Tango has not recovered from the corona regulations. Will it get better?

I have started a dance therapy training. Will that be a new me?

And I have written a book. A 400-page roleplaying book which is now on Kickstarter. This project has helped me get through the corona years, was a great pleasure and a huge endeavour. Still is! 

We are now in the last 4 days of the campaign and would love to get some more backers to reduce the deficit. Do you know what such a project costs? I won't tell. I just wanna say that the official kickstarter goal is far from it. 

So, if you want to help: back us now!

Click here!

Thursday 27 April 2023

Growing Old in Tango

A few days ago, I attended a seminar about "Dance Classes with Senior Citizens". This got me thinking about ageing in tango. 


When I started dancing tango, I was in my early 30’s and pleased about how age did not seem to matter: Young people were dancing with older ones. Also social dance is something that you can do at any age if you are willing to adapt your movements over the time. All seemed fine in tango-wonderland.

But this was when there just were only few dancers and milongas and everyone was happy to dance with whomever else showed up. 

Now tango has diversified and the sheer number of dancers allows for more age-appropriate and interest-based sub-groups. I actually find that a good development, because now I don't have to listen to neo-tango-music anymore or deal with being led into ganchos. This is nice. 

But I still worry - in particular about all of us who are used to travelling so much to meet their friends and dance at international tango events. 

There are two main issues: 

1. Acceptance of older dancers at events: It is quite obvious that old age is not very much appreciated when it comes to choosing dance partners. It is kind of ok in the encuentro community where many dancers are way past 60 or 70. But even there, events seem to segregate between the encuentros for older dancers and the ones for a more mixed crowd. 

For me, not dancing is really not the main issue as I dance much more now than when I was much younger. Back in the day - even at the height of our "career" - I used to sit a lot and found most milongas or events super depressing. Now I seldom lack partners, also (but not only) because I dance both roles. But I know that it is a huge problem for many other women of my age or older. 

And when I look at the much younger marathon community, I fear that many of those who are popular now, will be very disappointed when they are being replaced by younger dancers in the future. This applies of course more to women than to men, where old age seems to be more accepted. Why, I do not know. 

2. What happens when we all become too old to travel or cannot afford it anymore because we are living on a small pension? So many of the local communities have been drained of dancers and collapsed because of the exodus of the more experienced dancers towards international events. 

I am happy that we are turning the wheel in our hometown and are building quite nice local community. But what if I become too old to dance at all? I'll miss not only the dance, but also the company, the hugs, the chats... And even if I manage to  keep on dancing a bit where I live, I am definitely going to miss all of my international friends when I stop travelling and they stop coming to our events. I actually miss many of you already.

There are so many dancers with whom we have bonded in these 22 years as tango teachers, but whom we might never meet again. I used to meet you at workshop weekends in your local or regional communities, but as we are not anymore invited to teach in this places, many are becoming distant memories. And also this is due to a process of ageing.

Not because of dementia though. 

Detlef and I are both in our later 50’s and in Argentina we’d be called "maestros of the maestros". Thousands of dancers all over Europe and the USA - many of them now teaching - have taken classes with us or even participated in our teacher trainings. This should count for something. But the contrary is the case. Despite the fact, that we are now way more experienced than in our 30's, we receive almost no more engagements for workshop weekends or events. 

Don’t get me wrong: I saw this development coming for many years as our western culture is bound to sort out the older generation. I also witnessed this process with other formerly famous  colleagues. The corona pandemic has somehow accelerated the development for us but it was bound to happen. I don't complain, but take it as an opportunity to slowly transition towards other fields of engagement. 

But I am going to miss you. 

That said: This weekend we’ll be meeting many friends at a sweet encuentro France. Then we’ll be in Portugal for two weeks and then there is Pequeña… So...

Carpe Diem! 

Thursday 1 September 2022

Do not obsess about repertoire!

 This is just a short reminder for all leaders (male or female) in Tango: 

Do not obsess about boring your followers with your limited repertoire. 

During a milonga, followers will dance with all kinds of leaders and each of them has a different musicality, repertoire and embrace. So unless this follower will dance with you only, he or she will have enough variety in the dance. 

In addition to that most followers complain about leaders trying to dance too many "steps" and therefore forget about musicality and embrace. Hence: less (steps) is more (wellbeing)!

Female leaders should actually know that because most of them have been making exactly this statement for years when they were "only" following. But as soon as they start leading, they forget about it. Very stupid.

The only person being bored by a limited repertoire is the leader him- or herself and this is quite understandable as she or he has to dance the same steps over and over again. So if you want to enlarge your repertoire, please do it for your own sake, not with the excuse of having to entertain "the ladies". 

But remember: Unless you are very skilled in leading and adapting the repertoire to music and partner, the steps will only stress the followers. 

Last tip: Female tango teachers are particularly annoyed by all the leaders wanting to impress them and show how they can dance better than their dance partner. THIS is really boring. A nice embrace and connection to the music however can never be boring. 

So: cut it out! 

Sunday 28 August 2022

My most exciting non-tango project!

Today, I am would like to share some information about a wonderful project I’ve been working on since corona started in 2020. It has got nothing to do with tango, but please bear with me for one moment. This work has helped me to get through the past two years, not only financially, but also motivationally. 

So, what is this about?

I have written a roleplaying adventure and am now supervising the illustration and production of the book. The Straight Way Lost will be published by Vortex-Verlag via a Kickstarter campaign in mid-2023 and I’d be happy about contributions and recommendations to your friends.
In case you do not know what a roleplaying game is, please click here.

This work might be of interest not only to those who love roleplaying games, but everyone who is intrigued by renaissance history, the work of Dante Alighieri, beautiful art or mythology. 

The story is based on the ancient tale of a voyage into the underworld and back again, one that lies at the base of all classical and medieval sagas:
It is the year 1492 in the mighty city-state of Florence. Girolamo Savonarola, the charismatic prior of San Marco is fighting to rid society of the decay that has beset it under the reign of the Medici family. The adventurers are drawn into this political game of intrigue and set out to find a cure for the evil that has befallen their home. Their journey will lead them into the realm of the mysterious fey queen of the Apennine, but only after following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri through the netherworlds can the heroes return to face the tyrant and help create their City On A Hill.

Illustrations in very distinctive styles for the different stages of the voyage are by Jana Heidersdorf, Mark Smylie (see below) and Gwenevere Singley. The layout will be done by my partner Thorsten Janes, who has already worked with Detlef an me on Caminar Abrazados. The Straight Way Lost will be a wonderful addition to any art-loving friend’s library.

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Tuesday 3 May 2022

Annoying post about my signature issue

I have not written for quite a while, mostly because I nowadays also post longer texts on facebook and because I wanted to keep this blog (relatively) free of my everyday corona-rants. 

So this is another annoying post about my signature issue, leading women.


As you many of you will know, we (Detlef and I) are using the concept of role-change in all of our local classes and most of our international work. This is why many of our female students have taken up leading. Some have worked real hard, e. g. in our teacher training and are now registering as double-role dancers at many events - if the organisers allow for it. 

We of course encourage role-change at our milongas and encuentros and so the "leading ladies" and the few "following men" usually get enough dances in both roles at our events. We are very happy about the development because no-one has to wait as a wallflower anymore. It changes everything for the better!

But it is common knowledge that double rolers don't have good chances in most environments and that leading women in particular are often criticised for not being "experienced" or "good" enough. And sure, many of them have only taken up the "other role" recently, so they are still learning and very well aware of that.

But I ask myself: With whom are leading women implicitly compared when people are making such a statement? Not good enough in comparison to whom?

Is it with male "beginners" who have been leading a similar amount of time? Surely not, because as a tango teacher I can confirm that experienced followers who take up leading will be much, much, much more competent than the average man who starts tango. And I think that most people are aware of that. But are women praised for their achievement of learning much faster? Certainly not.

So, are these women then maybe compared to the average dancer at milongas or encuentros? That would actually be appropriate, because I am honestly convinced that many, many female leaders have long achieved that level of competency. Honestly: it is no rocket science. 

And if you observe more closely, you will discover that the reason for them being of equal competency  comes from the fact that they are taking classes and practicing and therefore still improving, whilst most men stop learning from a certain point on. Why should they? They will always get enough dances. I have danced with hundreds, maybe even thousands of so-called "advanced" leaders at events and will clearly state that the majority have a quite limited repertoire and musicality. That’s fine, because when I dance with someone, I do not expect "perfection" and I do not judge. I connect with another person and if that person is willing to "give" something of him or herself in the dance, I am perfectly happy. Most followers are, because this is after all a social dance.  

So why are female leaders not likewise accepted with all their imperfections and restrictions? Why will another woman not accept the invitation of an average female leader, whilst she is happily dancing with the guy who has been dancing the same ocho-cortado variation for the last 15 years without even adapting the move to the melodic rhythm?

Because women have to be better to be perceived equal!

I think that they are implicitly compared with the very small amount of top dancers who are musical, have an extensive-enough repertoire and a fine embrace. Most likely, they are also good looking and are, well, men! These are the few guys with whom every follower will want to dance at an Encuentro or Marathon.

What most forget: These guys have often been dancing for more than 20 years and are either very talented or have worked hard to get there. Yes, they might merit the praise but how unfair is it to compare a female leader, who has started to lead 2-3 years ago to these "tango gods"? Also, no matter how good she gets, she will not lead "like a man". Because she is no man. But do you have to lead "like a man" to lead well? I very much doubt that.

I am impressed by everyone who tackles "the other role" despite the social inhibitions, the time consuming effort and the huge amount of money that they have spend to learn, to become better, to develop. I see how many of them improve by the day!

I do not want anyone to give leading women any more leeway than male leaders. But please give them the same chance that you would give to a male leader of a comparable level of competency. Try to judge them by their dancing and not by their sex. 

Ok, unless tango IS about sex for you. Then of course, this is ok. Women will stay women and men men. If you only get your tango highs with the big hairy bloke (quoting a male friend), then so be it. ;-)

Personal note: 

I have for 21 years lead in class, but only recently (2019) made the serious attempt of leading at milongas. I have practised despite the fact, that I understand all moves and musicality and can perfectly demonstrate them in class - mostly in an open hold. But it is different in close embrace at milongas. So it is obvious, that it will take me some time, until I’ve incorporated our repertoire in my everyday milonga life. I am improving. 

But I have got the advantage to be a teacher and well known at many events I go to. So I will mostly reach my goal of leading 50%. It is only at events where I am not known (marathons) that I will be perceived in the same manner as the other leading ladies. This (and the fact that I actually talk to our female leaders) is why I know what I am writing about. And guess what: There are female followers who have learned with us but will not accept my invitation at a milonga. They will of course accept Detlef’s invitation - if he happens to be there on time and is not chatting at the bar. ;-)

Let’s see how that works next weekend at the Heidelberg Tango Marathon. By writing this post, I have certainly not improved my chances with the guys. ;-)

Update: At the HTM it went well after a little while. I did not reach the 50%, but close enough. ;-)

Thursday 1 July 2021

Where do we go from here?

I have not written for a long time, but even those who do not follow me on Facebook can imagine what it has been like in the past 15 months: Tango has basically collapsed and apart from a few months last summer and early autumn, we were not allowed to work at all. These restrictions have taken their toll and I am in a quite bad condition - physically and mentally. 

Still, 2020 was manageable:

Our Indiegogo campaign last June went well and we sold a lot of digital content or vouchers for classes. Some friends even made donations - which we did not ask for, but that were welcome nevertheless. Your help added up to more than double of what we received from our government in 2020. This was is a wonderful sign of solidarity and we are super grateful.

Our financial situation last year was also aided by the fact, that many events and classes had been payed in advance. When the lockdown started, most participants agreed to re-schedule and let us hold onto their money. Unfortunately, many of those classes and events had to be delayed much longer than anticipated and some have still not taken place. 

But as restrictions were lifted a bit in May, we were now able to work-off a few of our teaching obligations:

  • Bootcamp - finished after 15 months
  • Tango-Teacher-Training - finished after 1 year
  • Mini Vals Seminar - finished after 8 months
  • Local courses - to be finished next week

The Damocle’s sword of refunds has now become a little less threatening and I am very relieved.

There nevertheless still remain: 

  • Many vouchers for privates and other classes bought in our Indiegogo campaign
  • Pequeña that was re-re-scheduled for June 2022. With all costs (djs, venue…) still awaiting us.
  • Quite a few local dancers who have not yet completed their classes from 2020 and who will hopefully do so in autumn.

But in most German regions, regulations are still strict and apart from small classes for tested and vaccinated dancers, nothing is possible. No real milongas, no events… Travelling to other countries is still difficult as well and organisers are not yet inviting us for workshops. And even when they do: it takes many months - up to a year - from scheduling a weekend until earning a salary!

So, given that there will be very few opportunities to generate new income in 2021, our car died and that there are still some studio renovations to be finished, this year remains difficult. Much more than 2020.

We will nevertheless not start a new funding-campaign, as some of our friends suggested. 

It is now the responsibility of the governments to give us back our lives and livelihoods. We have complied to all regulations and the incidence rate in Germany has dropped to 5,1. But now the hysteria is raging again and new lockdowns are discussed for autumn and winter. Despite the fact that 80% of the population (including me) will have had their vaccinations by the end of summer. This makes planning for the nearer future almost impossible. 

I also observe that many people have retreated from tango. After 1,5 years of abstinence, they have acquired new interests and are not finishing courses or signing up for new ones. Others might never overcome their fear of the virus. The tango community has shrunk to a few passionate survivors and classes fill up even worse than 2020 when there were no vaccines and no antigene-tests. Who knows how many years it will take to re-build all this!

In any case: If we are not given back our right to earn a living soon, I do not know, whether we will survive as tango professionals. Detlef is more optimistic than I am, so let us hope that he is right. 

In the meanwhile, I have taken up an exciting and challenging new work, writing a roleplaying campaign set in 15th century Florence and Dante’s afterworlds. You can read everything about it here.

If you want to help me and Detlef, please feel free to buy our digital content, sign up for our classes and tango-holidays and invite us for workshops in your community. We are not scared of travelling.