Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a team, community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

December 21, 2019

Never Forget Why We Started

As our second anniversary is approaching, we can be proud of the progress we’ve made in the past twenty-two months. Our number 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 community in 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 the 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 growth and community building.

But some of us feel so good about themselves already that they don’t want to remain low profile. They want others to see what they can do. They want to experience new things with new people. They start to miss classes when there are conflicting events to ours. Some think they are good enough to be on their own and don’t need the group anymore. Some left already.

While exploration is 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 goal is reached. 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 teamwork, commitment, discipline, responsibility, grit and personal sacrifice. If we only think about ourselves and neglect our duty, 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.

Gathering a group of like-minded dancers is important because we cannot enjoy tango with just anyone. We can only enjoy tango with people who share the same philosophy, use the same embrace, dance the same style, know the same steps, and reached the same level of proficiency. Tango is the collective work of a group of like-minded and educated dancers, without whom one alone cannot enjoy tango no matter how good his/her dance skill is. That is why we must not just think about ourselves but work together, help each other to grow, and join hands to build a strong home group together.

That is not an easy task, of course. People are different and unleveled. Some are quicker learners and better dancers than others. It takes 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 and dance on their own. When we put personal interests above the group, we lose the perspective, the group suffers the consequence and we all pay a price.

But if we remain united and work together to support and encourage each other, the group will grow faster and become 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 such a group, we cannot convince others 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 improve ourselves. History will be made by those who stick to the cause, work together and don’t give up.

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