So far in 2020: New Classes, New Milonga, Guest Teachers, and More

For me personally, it has been quite the transition. I feel buoyed by the positive words and kindnesses that our students and patrons have given my teammates and me. We knew we wanted to do things differently, and that would involve change. Change can be painful, but it’s really the only way to grow and learn.

At the end of 2019, we sent out a short survey asking people about our events (milongas, prácticas, and guest teachers). What you liked, what you didn’t like.

Not so many people responded, but there was enough data to see certain things popping up over and over again.

People want quality instruction.

We’ll continue shifting our focus to the social dance floor. As more events pop up in Ottawa, and more people take their places in the ronda, it’s apparent that long sequences and big moves will not serve us as a community. Our next round of classes starts Sunday, March 1. You can see a partial schedule here.

Our Tango 101 curriculum has been a success. It’s a real boost to see people happily changing roles and giving each other feedback. We look forward to continuing on this path to creating empowered dancers who can work as a team. Our next beginner session will start on Wednesday, March 25th.

I’m pleased to announce that our friend and one of Ottawa’s most creative dancers, Bruno Alfonso, will be teaching a guest session with Siempre Tango on Wednesdays, starting March 25th. More details to come.

People didn’t like the milonga venue as it was before.

Bate Hall was a beautiful place to have a milonga, but it was difficult to create atmosphere in such a large space. When Vanier Moderns moved in, the ambiance became much cozier. However, the stress of arranging delicate things on all sides was getting to both our friends at VM and us.

To create a better experience, we’re moving our milonga to Westboro Masonic Hall (430 Churchill Avenue). Our first date will be on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 PM. To create fresh start, we are retiring the name “La Milonga de Mis Amores” and will be calling our milonga “La Capital” from now on.

The schedule for La Capital will be as follows:

  • 1st and 2nd Tuesdays of the month
  • 3rd and 4th Mondays of the month (and the 5th if there is one in any given month).

It’s not ideal, but Westboro Masonic does its contracts in September. They have so kindly accomodated our mid-year relocation. For the time being, Tiniko and I will not hold a full-blown pre-milonga class per se as we will wait to see how these changes work out!

We are looking for volunteers to help man the entrace, greet visitors, and to be great ambassadors. A milonga can only grow so much if it’s up to just the organisers. If you want to contribute to your tango community, please reach out to us.

People like having a variety of guest teachers.

We’re so happy that Tomás Howlin was able to come visit us in February before leaving for Buenos Aires in March. Looking forward to seeing him again, and more often in Ottawa!

Going forward, we’ve pulled out the stops to bring the best of tango right to your doorstep:

  • Pablo Veron will be giving workshops in Ottawa on March 21-22. He will be giving one all-levels class before Milonga Querida, and two intermediate classes the next afternoon. There is more information to come, but I would suggest looking for partners now. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn from one of the greats.
  • I’m also pleased to announce that Marcelo “El Chino” Gutierrez will be coming to Ottawa for the entire last week of April. He will literally be invading our class schedule, and it will be a great bootcamp for those who are looking for an intensive experience to ground yourself and add a bit of soul to your dancing.

People want to feel welcome and they seek a sense of community.

These are the responses that we received to the last questions of our survey: “What’s your wish for the Ottawa Tango Community in 2020?” I’m sure that many tango communities would have similar wishes for themselves.

In tango, many ignore those they don’t want to dance with. On the flip side, people expect dances from people they have conversations with. Put the two together, and you have a perfect recipe for isolated pods of people sitting around at the milonga. You also have a stage for people to talk about one another (instead of to each other) and for tribalist thinking.

We’re constantly thinking up ways to get people to engage off the dance floor. It’s difficult to treat people poorly when you see them as… people?

That’s why we are excited for our upcoming Road Trip to Montreal on March 6-8. We will be going to see La Juan D’Arienzo Orchestra in action and drop in on the local milongas throughout the weekend. We’ll be updating this event page so that you can tag along!

One of the difficult things to relay to students is the “culture of tango,” where tango is not just a mere activity. It’s easy to teach steps, but it’s another matter to create community, which is something that transcends style vs. style, school vs. school, and us vs. them. This is something that we are still working on.

If this is something you believe in, share this post and talk about it with your friends.

We look forward to seeing how things unfold!

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