Here’s a message from a group in the SF Bay interested in initiating a local group in the spirit of Awaken Tango:
Subejct: Awaken Tango - SF Bay Area
Hope all is well with you. I am sending this email requesting guidance in forming the SF Bay Area Awaken Tango Group.
The plan so far is getting a small group (about 8 of us) together who have participated in your work so far. The intention with this group is planning a larger group meeting with the local tango teachers and organizer - about 60 will be invited to the second round.
Here are my questions:
- What have you found to be most successful process in the formative stage in a local tango community?
- What information/data do you have available that has been of interest to the groups?
- Any additional counsel?
Thank you for the work you have done and your continual inspiration.
I’m posting it here in hopes of beginning a dialog to address the questions and support the process. I’ve added some input below, but the hope is to generate lots of answers and some dialog along the way…
1. most successful process: I think communication is part of the formula, there are a few stand-out examples where getting everyone together behind a collective goal helped to coordinate/consolidate communities. I think specifically about Portland in the early Clay Nelson/TangoFest years, or Hannover with the beginning of the Tangowerkstat.
2. Information/Data in our current context this could start a wiki page/topic on functional tango communities (oxymoron?) where examples and resources could be accumulated.
3. Additional counsel: this sounds like a prompt for a discourse thread
from my side, I’d say 1st - identify successful models and find out what they did right. In the case of Portland (above) the story is that Clay approached all the active tango providers and sought their buy-in on the idea of creating a festival, which was pitched as being of mutual benefit to the whole community. For many years there was a sense of community ownership of the event which was a source of pride for dancers/teachers/organizers there. Perhaps one of the factors that helped was a convention to not use local talent (in order to avoid competition). I believe that local organizers were also deputized to coordinate specific milongas/events as part of the festival. In SF, would be of value to interface with Project Tango and see what successes/failures emerged from that organizational effort. I have the feeling the SFTX event had some parallels with the early days of Tangofest in terms of organizing from a community perspective. From my perspective, one of the things that marks success is sustainability. This seems to rest largely on broad distribution of responsibilities, rather then concentrating the workload on a small number of initially very motivated volunteers. This fits my experience of the Hannover project, there seems to be a core of about 6 people sharing the work, instead of the 1 or 2 that often carry the organizational burden in similar sized groups. I think this goes a long way to avoiding burnout. This group also has a strong social bond which I think is invaluable.