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...