As our second anniversary is approaching, we can be proud of the progress we’ve made in the past twenty-two months. Our group is steadily growing. Our dance skills have improved a lot. We now hold our own milonga on a regular base. When we go out to dance as a group, people are impressed by us. We start to have an impact on the tango of this city.
But there are no grounds for complacency. We are still far away from our goal. Our number is still small. Our dance skills are still not adequate. We are still a marginal section in local tango scene. The entire community remains in the shadow of the Nuevo influence. There are still a lot for us to do both in terms of personal development and community building.
But some of us feel so good about themselves already that they don’t want to remain unknown. They want to be seen by the public. They want to try new experiences and dance with new people. They chose to miss classes when there are conflicting events to ours. Some think they are good enough to be independent and don’t need the group anymore. Some left already.
While curiosity and exploration are commendable, we shall not forget why we started. This group has a mission. We are not individualists who come only for personal gain and leave when that end is met. We are here for a much bigger cause: to build a strong tango community, to promote the milonguero style of tango, to reform the tango culture in this city, and to bring more people into our cause. (See Champaign Milongueros Group Charter.)
This requires commitment, teamwork, discipline, responsibility, grit and personal sacrifice. If we only think about our own interests and neglect our responsibilities, we will end up repeating the mistake of those before us who have wandered in tango for many years and still do not have a place to dance. People seeking independence will discover soon or later that they need a home group to study, dance, improve themselves and enjoy tango. Having a group of like-minded dancers is important because we cannot enjoy tango with anybody. We can only enjoy tango with people who hold the same philosophy, use the same embrace, dance the same style, can do the same steps, and reached the same level of proficiency. Tango is the collective work of a group of like-minded dancers, without them one alone cannot enjoy tango no matter how good his/her skill is. That is why we must work together to build such a group for ourselves.
But that is not an easy task. People are different and unleveled. Some are quicker learners and better dancers than others. It will take time for everyone in the group to reach the same level of proficiency. Meanwhile, those who are better may lose patience and think it’s just easier to go out dance on their own. When we put personal interests above the group, we lose the vision, the group suffers the consequence, and we all pay a price.
On the other hand, if we stick and work together to support, encourage and help each other, the group will grow faster and become stronger and better sooner, and we will all benefit as a result. It takes committed people to make a strong group. It takes a strong group to make an impact. Until we become a much better group than we are now, we cannot convince people to join us, and we cannot make a real difference. Therefore, the most important thing for us to do now is not to flaunt ourselves, but to refine ourselves. History will be made by those who stick to the goal, work together, and don’t give up.