Year in Review: 2019 was a year of ups and… well, ups

When you evaluate every little thing you do as it happens (whether it’s during the year, or – let’s go for the tango wisdom – during a song that you’re dancing), it’s easy to focus on mistakes or things you could have done better.

But when you look back on everything, it’s easier to see what you did right.

For the Siempre Tango Team, it was a tumultuous year, but we have a lot to be happy about.

January

2019 started out with a bang.

Nearly 60 people showed up to one of our free beginner classes during the first week of January. It was bonkers and a fabulous experience and it led to one of our biggest Tango 1 cohorts ever.

February

The Love Shack Milonga, after being delayed a week by an epic snowstorm, took place relatively close to Valentine’s Day.

We don’t often get a chance to be goofy in tango, so some of us took full advantage of the opportunity.

We also had our first Queer Tango bootcamp, as part of the Winter Pride program! Thank you to Viva from Queer Tango Montreal for coming out to see us.

March

We were able to welcome renowned teacher and tango writer Veronica Toumanova for the first time to Ottawa.

The response was fantastic, and she enjoyed her time teaching an large, enthusiastic group of followers. Special thanks to Leanna for hosting Veronica.

April

We were pleased to bring another pair of artists to Ottawa for the first time: Alberto Ramos and Micaela Barrett of the Cleveland Tango School. They brought with them their mix of youthful panache and deep respect for the old ways of tango. There were lot of new ideas to play around with!

This time Robert served as the host – thank you.

May

A quiet summer session with some interesting seminars on Boleos and Wraps.

This was the first sprout for our new “Tango 402: Classic Elements” course. It makes more sense to tackle more difficult elements one at a time.

June

As dancers who spend most of the time improvising in crowded rooms, performances are a challenge. But thank you to Rahim for giving us two opportunities to perform this year: once at his popular Friday social and again at June’s Salsapalooza.

Later in June, we announced that the Spring 2019 session would be Mary-Ellen’s last with Siempre Tango. We were able to celebrate and thank her at this year’s Red and White Milonga.

We’re pleased to say that she still comes out to the Tuesday milongas.

July

Melina Mistral is already a friend to many in the Ottawa community, and we were pleased to welcome her for her first official visit. We look forward to developing our friendship with this dynamic and well-traveled teacher!

August

Last summer, our beloved Bate Hall was unavailble, but no matter: it was a chance to bring tango out of a private setting and to the people. There were a lot people looking at us through the windows, and we do hope their curiosity leads them to tango at some point.

We danced sometimes at Bistro Alégria on the Gatineau side. Thank you to Alex for having us!
On some Tuesdays we danced at Alpha Art Gallery in the Byward Market. Thank you to our good friends at Alpha, Dominik and Edith Sokolowski.

September

Our first try at a Saturday milonga, Milonga Sin Nombre, was an groovy experiment that we’ll revisit again. A cool club feeling, underground (but upstairs), with drinks.

We made a great addition to our team: at the beginning of the Fall 2019 session, Isabelle joined the teaching team and taught her first classes with Robert.

Later on that month, Francis and brigitte made their announcement that they would be moving to Montreal.

It was a poignant announcement, and a reminder to 1) thank your tango teachers, past and present, every chance you get and 2) value every dance you have with your friends.

But this announcement didn’t spell the end for Siempre Tango. Far from it.

October

As the Fall Session continued, Karina Colmeiro came back to Ottawa for her first teaching visit since 2013, bringing her technical precision and a wonderful DJ set at her welcome milonga on Saturday night.

November

The Goodbye Milonga for Francis and brigitte was a night that the Ottawa tango community will remember for a very long time.

There was a lot of love in that room – and nearly 130 people. It served as the best evidence that building a tango community takes:

  • a lot of time,
  • consistency,
  • and love.

December

Tomás Howlin came for his annual holiday visit, and it was wonderful. As usual! (A big thank you to Elizabeth Loan for her help in hosting Tomás.)

Another highlight: During the first evening edition of Milonga Querida (thank you, Tiniko!), Robert and Isabelle performed for the first time as Siempre teachers.

The Reindeer Romp was an intimate affair, but in terms of gathering cold-weather essentials for homeless youth, it was a success. It felt great to fill Mary Ellen’s car full of donations for Operation Come Home.

By December we were down to 4 teachers on our team…

(So before you get too excited about an unknown leader in the Ottawa community, that’s Sean. We keep meeting at the same restaurant, and we always sit in his section. He’s basically part of the team.)

But luckily for us, Tiniko joined our teaching team and brought a vital presence and new perspectives!

What’s next?

  • After deciding what Siempre Tango’s guiding values are, we hope they’ll provide coherence to everything we say and do.
  • We’ll focus on giving students the skills they need to enjoy their tandas to the fullest. To that end, we created a new curriculum. Check out our Winter 2020 Schedule and use our new online registration form.
  • We’ve renewed our commitment to nuturing the Ottawa Tango community. This means resisting short-term thinking, and empowering dancers to speak out and contribute. (Want to have your say? Fill out our survey, and we will share what we’ve learned.)
  • We’re looking forward to our first Tuesday Milonga on January 7th at 7:30 PM.

See you all on the dance floor in 2020!

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