Sunday, August 30, 2020

Riots are not violence

Antonio Buehler: Antonio: Riots are not violence. They are a response to violence. Riots are not wrong. They are often the only thing that work.This is a wonderfully illuminating video that runs less than ten minutes. Worth the watch.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

The impact of reduced access to Argentine tango - Awaken Tango COVID Survey

From the Awaken Tango website - August 27, 2020

The nature of the impact of reduced access to tango on wellbeing, caused by COVID, varied a great deal. 

For some, tango had been all-encompassing: the central focal point of their life; tango met many different needs via a single activity. For them, the loss of tango was most difficult. For others, tango was one among many social activities, creative pursuits, and ways of contributing, making the adjustment easier. 

For 75% of the survey participants, reduced access to tango had had a negative impact on wellbeing — either somewhat negative (52.2%) or significantly negative (22.8%). 

Lack of purpose

Several described loss of tango as leaving them feeling lost, aimless, purposeless, adrift, homeless, or even useless. 

"I feel rudderless" 

"My life lacks focus and meaning. Tango gave it both" 

"Lack of a structure for daily life, lack of purpose" 

Loss of a part of the self

Many described the impact of losing tango as akin to losing their identity or losing a part of themselves. They felt a void, a vacancy, a feeling of incompleteness, a sense that a part of me is missing. Some described this on a bodily level as feeling paralyzed, imprisoned. 

"I feel that I'm suffocating without dancing tango and seeing my dancing partners" 

"It has left a hole in my heart"  

Intense grief

Several acknowledged that lack of tango had made them depressed; they shared a combination of intense sadness and loneliness, saying that losing tango was "devastating," catastrophic, heartbreaking, and they were filled with grief and uncertainty bordering on hopelessness. 

"In one fell swoop, my access to friends, community, touch, fun fitness, physically expression, meeting friends and lovers has dropped to 0. It is harrowing. Also, with stress of lost income, higher work/sress, and nearly no social contact, I have gone from the healthiest I've been emotionally in a decade to really on the edge. I am coping as best I can but without tango it is a real disaster." 

Lonely, sad, longing

For many, the negative impacts were slightly less intense. They felt lonely (40.7%) and sad (45.6%); they simply missed and longed for many aspects of what they loved about the tango experience, such as the qualities above, their friends, and the experience of interconnectedness that community provided at its best. 

"I feel disconnected and joyless" 

"My heart feels heavy & tired a lot of the time" 

"I miss my tango friends and fear I will never see them again" 

"I miss shared movement and focus. Tango feels like floating and I wonder if I ever will again" 

Less healthy

Several were concerned about gaining weight, losing tone, eating more, getting lazy; they acknowledged spending many hours per week consuming passive entertainment instead of dancing. Many reported working out less (39.8%).  

"I feel stuck and stiff in body and mind"

"Tango was my reason to close my laptop, dress up nicely [and] go move my body" 

"Dancing [tango] has been my best therapy for nearly 20 years" 

Needed a break anyway

On the other hand, several said they actually embraced the break from tango. About 5% of the survey participants said that reduced access to tango had actually had a positive effect on their wellbeing.  

"At times tango can be/has been socially exhausting without many/any positive gains" 

Many said they were introverted, and a moment of solitude was welcomed. Among other things, they used the time reflect on the role they want tango to play in their lives; to consider their learning journey and how they wanted to engage with the dance. They also enjoyed the opportunity to explore other parts of their personality and develop in new ways. 

Several were glad to get a break from stressful aspects of tango that created social anxiety, social exhaustion, fomo, toxic or upsetting community dynamics/politics; or what they experienced as an excluding or oppressive atmosphere. 

For several, the break was a helpful for more practical reasons: more sleep, less rushing/stress caused by traveling to tango events, and less spending. 

Two participants captured the complexity as follows: 

"My feet and achilles are recovering. I wear less makeup. I worry less about fitting in and being evaluated. I worry less about vanity. I miss the community and expression. I miss the transformative, dreamy tandas. I spend less money."

"I miss the hugs, connection, community and inspiration which tango brought. But I am enjoying a regular sleep schedule. I don't miss the uncomfortable social elements of being good enough, known enough, socially relevant enough to dance. the uncomfortable part of choosing and being chosen."

Worried about teachers and organizers

Many expressed a lot of care, worry, and concern for their teachers, schools, community organizers — and for their communities in general. They wanted them to be okay; they wanted them to still be there after COVID; they wanted to help. The most frequently chosen "silver lining" of COVID was that, as a result, community members have increased awareness of the financial challenges of organizers — which 31% of participants selected as a positive side of the situation. 

Not very affected

There was a group of participants who were not strongly affected by the lack of tango. Many of them had very full lives outside of tango, with very involving jobs, children, or other creative pursuits; or, they had been reducing their focus on tango anyway due to health considerations or other reasons. For 19% of participants, reduced access to tango had had no impact on their wellbeing. 

"tango is not my whole life nor should it be anyone's" 

In closing, it’s important to acknowledge that not only have many members of our community lost access to an activity that met a wide-ranging set of needs, they are also facing the additional stress and challenges of the pandemic.

"usually in times of catastrophe people come together, hug and support. this time we have to stay apart."

We wish our peers peace, safety, and comfort and hope that together we can co-create ways to extend the energy of the embrace to one another despite the physical constraints we face.

The role Argentine tango plays in our lives - Awaken Tango COVID Survey

From the Awaken Tango website, as part of the data collected in their Tango/COVID Survey - August 27, 2020

Survey participants shared the special role tango played in their lives, and the unique types of experiences and qualities that were missing without access to tango due to COVID. 


Many participants described tango as an important source of joy, happiness, aliveness, and pure fun that was difficult to access in any other way. 

"Indescribable inner happiness! Tango is my energy! The more I dance the more I feel alive"


Several saw tango as playing an important, even critical role in their health and wellbeing; the combination of movement, touch, and socializing was seen as good for the body, mind/neurochemistry, and immune system. 58% of the participants said that the role tango played in their lives was healthy movement. 

"Tango for me is light exercise and moving meditation. Its effect on me is unique and there really is no substitute"

Stress relief

For many, tango served as an important form of stress relief, helping refresh their minds, relieve anxiety or even depression, and reboot in order to be better capable to meet daily challenges. 

"my primary means of recharging when I'm down or lonely"


Many participants pointed out that tango played a critical role in receiving physical human contact through healthy and safe touch and hugging. 53% of the participants said that the role tango played in their lives was belonging through embrace/touch. 

The impact of touch deprivation was deeply felt: Several participants pointed out that tango had been a primary or even only source of physical affection and belonging through health touch, and losing this was creating very real suffering. 

"I don't ever touch a living creature anymore"

"lack of physical often palpable as a real physical pain" 

Connection with the sacred

Many saw tango as a source of transcendental experiences, described as a flow state, an oceanic feeling, peak emotional experiences, pure bliss, soul joy, feeling alive. 

"In addition to the other benefits, tango is my 'moving zen' - so I have lost my primary way of accessing a transcendental state of being" 


Many highlighted the special role tango plays in learning through engaging with challenges and figuring difficult things out, both individually and collaboratively. 67% of the participants said that the role tango played in their lives was learning and personal growth.

"I miss learning and interacting, the sensation and cognitive challenge, the connection to others" 


A few saw tango as playing a role in a helping them explore and expand their identity through contact with other(s). 

"[Reduced access to tango has] cut off opportunities to connect with others and may well stunt the further development of my personality. I am a natural loner. Dancing tango was the perfect way to honor that while keeping me emotionally supple enough to relate with others." 

Nothing can replace the joyfully interconnected and layered experience of social tango. We wish our fellow tango lovers well as they discover ways to meet these needs while taking care of themselves and their loved ones.

Background on the Tango World COVID Survey Project - Awaken Tango COVID Survey

From the Awaken Tango website -August 27, 2020

Beginning in March, we (Korey, Mitra and Meredith) started having Zoom conversations to explore how we could support one another and the tango community. Doing a small research project was one of many ideas that emerged. 

Initially intended to be a brief 3-5 question survey, the scope grew as we realized what an unusual moment in tango history this was and how much there was to learn. We wanted to learn from pros as well as non-professionals. We wanted to make the survey accessible to those who speak Spanish. We identified a survey platform that allowed skip logic and translations. 

We launched the survey on May 21st 2020 and kept it open for 2 weeks until June 7th 2020. We promoted awareness via email and social media. 

About the survey process: 

The response to the survey was absolutely staggering. The community enthusiastically spread the word with scores of shares. We received over 2000 responses. 

In the process of working with this material, we have already learned a great deal: 

  • A LOT of data is generated when two thousand people reply to open-ended questions or fill in their answers to the "Other" category. To be honest, we weren't prepared for the landslide of data we received!

  • Protecting each survey participant's anonymity requires thoughtful agreements. This was very important to us, as we expanded the research team, so we needed to put some effort into creating data confidentiality agreements appropriate to the project. 

  • We made some screw-ups in the survey design! We're grateful for the feedback, and want to acknowledge how much we celebrate dancers who dance both roles; DJs; volunteers — and in general how special it is that so many tango dancers play so many different roles within the world of tango. We will strive to be more inclusive in our next research. Thank you for sharing your frustrations and for your patience with our learning process. 

  • There is so much to learn here and we intend to steward the gift of all this data with great care so that the world tango community can derive as much value out of it as possible. In particular, we see that this data has potential to help foster a broader understanding of the importance and transformative power of the tango modality. 

The makeup of the survey participants 

We were glad to see that participation was relatively diverse. Here is a report of the makeup of the survey participants. You'll notice that we heard the voices of people of a wide range of different levels of tango experience, as well as from many different-sized communities. Although we received many more responses from North America than other regions, we were able to sample a relatively geographically diverse group, with representation from communities literally all over the world. Our hard work to translate the survey and reach out to contacts in Argentina paid off, as we received solid and statistically useful responses. 

We learned about the range of roles members of the tango community play: aspiring instigators; dance therapists; vinyls DJs; coaches using tango for professional development, tango artist management services providers, and a puppet of the tango gods — something I believe many of us can relate to. 

Unfortunately we didn't include questions about racial/ethnic identity, which was a big mistake because this data would have helped us understand both the makeup/diversity of the community, and the differential impacts of COVID on tango dancers of color. We have begun developing a survey to study the question of race and tango and hope to secure resources for future research projects like this.  

What's next: 

  • We will share insights from our preliminary analysis August-September 2020.

  • We are still in the process of discovering how an asynchronous team of research professionals can best collaborate on the analysis and synthesis of large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data.

  • We believe creating a "tango think tank" like this would lead to many benefits for our world community, but creating it is non-trivial and will likely require funding. We would like to carry out future surveys on race and tango, sexual harms and tango, and strategic messaging for new tango dancer acquisition. 

Summary of findings & implications from Tango World COVID Survey - Awaken Tango COVID Survey

From the Tango Awaken website - August 24, 2020 - Korey Ireland, Meredith Klein, Mitra Martin

Over two thousand voices of tango lovers from across the world spoke. We've spent a good part of the summer donating our time to try to make sense of a tsunami of data — which, we were told, it could easily take two years to fully analyze. 

But what you shared was more than data; in some ways it was poetry, the lyrics to two thousand tangos, telling stories of loss, longing, and grief and a profound nostalgia for barely bygone times — along with moments of playfulness, wit, and hope. 

We are deeply touched by your candor. We are grateful for your trust in accepting this dance with us and waiting so patiently for us to turn what we learned into a shareable content. 

Over the next few weeks you'll see us adding articles to the blog on topics such as the role tango plays in participants' lives; the wellbeing of the tango community; online offerings and how they are working for both consumers and producers; the unique experience of tango professionals including their financial realities; and your vision for the future of tango. 

To give you a preview, here are some things that you'll find in the coming articles. Some of these findings may seem self-evident to you; however, it's the first time these have been validated by worldwide data. 

Key Insights

  1. For many practitioners, tango met many needs at once, including joy, movement/exercise, touch, friendship, challenge, growth, stress relief, meaning, routine. Many even found tango a spiritual experience. 

  2. Many had found tango such a complete experience for so many years that they had not cultivated any alternative ways of meeting the needs mentioned above. For them, the loss of tango has been devastating. 

  3. Most of those for whom tango was all-encompassing were also professionals. For this group, the catastrophe of losing an activity that essentially was their life, was compounded by the shock of losing their entire livelihood. For many, including particularly those in South America who have virtually no access to aid, the financial situation is untenable. 

  4. The community experience of tango gives participants something special that they don't experience outside of it — even when dancing tango with a partner at home. Those who were sheltered in place with a tango dancer were impacted about as much as those who weren't. 

  5. Although the community experience was special, many participants pointed out that their community experience of tango had also been frustrating, problematic or unhealthy. A variety of issues were raised.  

  6. In particular, many participants evidently did not have an empowering social tango experience. Many expressed a desire for others to behave differently so that they could feel better. It appears that tango culture as well as the structure of events may contribute to a general lack of agency and low self-esteem. 

  7. Among online activities, seeing artistic creations (music, dance, comedy) online were the most promising. Producers loved creating these and consumers enjoyed them greatly. Consumers also found solo technique classes, online couples classes, private lessons, and online panels/lectures/discussions very rewarding, although professionals didn't always enjoy offering these as much. 

  8. Many practitioners have shifted their focus to other activities instead of staying involved in tango during COVID, and it's very possible that some may not return to tango. 

  9. There is no clear consensus on what a post-COVID tango world looks like to practitioners, but many hope there will be a revitalization of local communities with less emphasis on tango travel.  

  10. Exploring, learning about, practicing, and creating tango music emerged as a deeply rewarding activity for many during this time, and COVID restrictions could in fact create some excellent conditions for an efflorescence of musical creativity. 


We believe the survey findings indicate:

  • A need to actually grieve what we have lost — together;

  • A need to intentionally reconnect with all tango has given us and our gratitude for this;

  • A need to put our heads together and experiment to discover new ways to stay connected and support each other;

  • A need for a reckoning: to really face up to what's not working about our tango communities and prepare the ground for re-opening with a stronger foundation;

  • A need to explore ways to help tango musical learning and creativity blossom during COVID — new lyrics, new tangos, new instruments, new players, new DJs, new cortinas, new didactic resources — and remove mental or practical obstacles to this. 

The purpose of research is not just to increase knowledge, but to spark dialogue and foster positive change. So, we're inviting you to join us, to use these insights to fuel a changemaking process. Please join us for the Tango Gamechanger Summit on Saturday September 12th at 2pm ET - a free event. 

Finally, we acknowledge that the learnings we’ll be sharing over these weeks are the tiny tip of the iceberg. Handling vast amounts of survey data is something that’s new to all three of us, and there is great complexity in the material, including many distinct roles, geographic regions, and demographics. We hope to create a well-supported way for this resource to continue to be stewarded for the benefit of tango.

Love, Korey, Meredith, Mitra