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 try 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 the responsibility, 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 people is important because we cannot enjoy dancing tango with just anyone. We can only enjoy dancing 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 like-minded and equally educated dancers, without them 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 take the responsibility to help each other to grow and work together to build a strong tango community.
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 will all pay a price.
However, 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 flaunting ourselves, but improving ourselves. History will be made by those who stick to the cause, work together and don’t give up.