When I began dancing tango socially, there was a tiny community who would turn up from abroad at local festivals. We referred to these ethereal creatures who came, danced with each other, and then evaporated, as the itinerant Versailles. They weren’t that many, and there was only one major festival in our town, so we didn’t see much of them.

Fast forward to 2018. Now there are marathons everywhere, all the time, and anyone who takes tango more seriously seems to fly out to attend them at least once a month, or even every weekend.

The result locally is that most good dancers are elsewhere. Our regular milongas have become depopulated, with the snowball effect that even more people are going away for their tango fix, to the further detriment of their own domestic scene. It’s a vicious circle.

Meanwhile, in the real world, air traffic is deemed the greatest environmental threat. The newspapers report daily that flying less is the best thing we can do to stop or at least slow down global warming.

Living up here in the cold north, I can certainly understand the allure of going somewhere warmer, where there are lots of great dancers. But is tango a valid reason to add to the already catastrophic carbon dioxide levels? How can we justify this perpetual searching for kicks? Is tango really that important? I find it increasingly hard to see how anyone who does not have tango as their profession, who dances only for their personal enjoyment, can be reconciled with this incessant air travel for the sake of a few tandas in a different part of the world. And the general congratulatory celebration of this kind of travel is bewildering, especially since the stories told on returning from some of these events are far from rosy.

In the long run, apart from the obvious negative environmental impact, this nomadic tango culture could actually be lowering the standard of tango. Just think if people stayed at home and spent all that time and money on classes and on practising! Or on helping to create a vibrant, lively milonga! Think how friendly and interesting the local scene might become if people invested more of themselves in it, instead of merely being tourists and consumers – because that is what you become if you are forever on the move. Sadly, also, some of these tango commuters, on the rare occasion when they are in town at the weekend, tend to heap criticism on the dancers at their local milongas, as though they were tourists in their own home town too.

I have cautiously voiced these concerns to people around me. And even though I have done so without aggression, and without accusing anyone personally, the only result so far seems to be that people avoid telling me about their tango trips. Hopefully, my views have had some marginal effects – because every little counts. We are on the brink of a global environmental disaster. It’s time that we all look at our own behaviour and what we can do to turn things around.

So, I implore you: why not start by skipping, say, one marathon? Or maybe taking the train?

Story posted by: Gabriella Berggren

About the author: Social Dancer from Stockholm

Published: 26 Mar 2018 @ 08:29

Last modified: 25 Mar 2019 @ 10:55

Comments (13)

Reuven Thetanguero commented:
Is “saving the planet” your main concern? We all want clean and safe environment but involving socio-political issues here may be a little misplaced…
Posted 26 Mar 2018 @ 21:41 | Last modified 10 Jan 2020 @ 12:52 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
Hi Reuven. Yes, we all want a clean and safe environment, but are we prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve it? The tango community consists to a large extent of people with a lot of money for recreation. I have hesitated for a long time to raise the issue of tango tourism, because I was fairly certain it would provoke ironic responses and attempts to brush away my arguments. But someone has to talk about it. I could have written two pieces – one about the enviroment, and one about the local scene. But I feel that they are intimately connected.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 07:56 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:15 | View and share
Your concerns, while perhaps valid, do not belong on the Tango forum. That’s my point. Find another forum to voice them.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 16:29 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:16 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
I’m sorry you feel that way, Reuven. However, I read the guidelines closely before posting, and my story has been shared 108 times since yesterday, without any assistance from me, so it seems that this is the right forum. All the best, G
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 18:02 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:16 | View and share
I did not say or imply that you violated the forum guidelines, that was not my point. What I meant is that people that want to discuss environmental issues do it in other forums. People here want to discuss Tango and not Tango impact on the environment. The 108 that shared your posting have a misguided understanding of what this is all about. I think I myself am getting off the Tango discussion, so I am going to stop now. I don’t mind discussing this with you in an email or Facebook, but not here.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 21:16 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:16 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
Oh, I’m sorry, are you the moderator? I looked at the About Tangofolly page, but I didn’t see your name listed there. My apologies. 🙂
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 22:54 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:16 | View and share
Anthony Cronin commented:
Interesting viewpoint, I am a tango traveller as a dancer and DJ (33 weekends in 2017). I have nowadays little to do with my local scene. I though, am not feeling guilty or think my absence makes the slightest bit of a difference. You have to travel to improve, to grow and learn as a dancer. Yes, you are right these people ‘neglect’ the local scene. I would not worry though as there will be a time when all travellers can no longer travel and they will return. They might despair and try to improve the local scene, they might miss their friends and organise an event to bring others thus growing the scene. like in Societies.. emmigration and immigration has it’s benefits. If your situation prevents you from travelling there is still much to be enjoyed locally. You do not have to be a traveller to bring the party to you, you just have to know travellers to act as ambassadors, maybe organise something yourself?
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 00:46 | Last modified 10 Jan 2020 @ 12:52 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
One person travelling does not affect the local scene, of course. But a large number of dancers who focus mainly on special events in other places means that the local milongas lose their audiences. I disagree about having to travel to improve as a dancer. Here in Stockholm, for instance, we have a few excellent teachers, in addition to visiting teachers, and milongas or practicas every day of the week. I have a feeling – but this is speculation, naturally – that there are other reasons why people go away to dance. There is a notion, for instance, that if you don’t travel you’re not serious about your tango. When I started dancing 14 years ago, people did not travel as frequently. Instead, the prevailing idea was that you had to go to Buenos Aires for a couple of months – this would somehow transform you forever. But although visiting distant places can be a valuable experience, I wanted to draw attention to the environmental impact of frequent travel – and also point out that the local everyday scene (i.e. regular milongas and practicas and local teachers) is depleted by this fashion. Also: is tango really that important? How many people actually need to be experts in the field of tango? Yes, there are some professionals – teachers, performers, DJs. But what about the rest of us, amateurs who do it for fun? Is the honing of our skills really so vital that it’s worth all that CO2 emission? It is a conscious choice on my part not to travel for tango. I try to fly as little as possible, to keep my carbon footprint down. I dance, practise and learn locally and contribute by organising activities now and then on a non-profit basis.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 07:50 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:15 | View and share
Serdar Hızal commented:
I would discuss this interesting topic of yours in person rather than online because virtual discussions or chats are mostly misunderstood in terms of lacking facial expression or not being native with the language. That means as you choose to reduce your carbon footprint by not travelling for tango, i choose to travel even just to sit,talk, dance and discuss about this kind of interesting topics. Tango itself is not the main reason that drives people to travel but the social pleasure. And i think this is the only remark that is directly connected to your local tango statements. When there is a drop on local tango scene, it is not the same discussion. It can get better or worse regarding to your local tango leaders(as in teachers, organisers, djs) Dancers has very few effect on this circle yet they will probably have effect on the positive way. Imagine i travel around and make friends and invite them over to visit me(not for tango) and we all go to local milongas so local dancers get to meet and dance with them. I think your argument does not really stand for major cities but more like small town communities. And that one is always hard to maintain.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 11:01 | Last modified 10 Jan 2020 @ 12:51 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
Hm, discussions face to face are better, I agree. But sometimes this is not possible, and happily we have the alternative of communicating respectfully via the internet. From my point of view, all air travel, for whatever purpose, tango, work or social, should be kept to a minimum for the sake of the environment. There are other things we can do too to minimise the footprint we leave behind, such as reduce our use of plastic, not buy bottled water, not drive a car, recycle our waste, and so on. It’s a huge subject, but I limited myself here to discussing the sides that relate to tango and the increasing volume of tango travel. It is nice that you invite your visiting friends to local milongas. As for big or small cities, Stockholm has quite a large tango community, although a large part of it is out travelling at weekends. There are smaller towns in Sweden with not so many dancers or events. But it is possible to take the train to a larger city. PS I hardly ever travel abroad for tango (four times in 14 years) but will be taking the boat to Finland for Tangosauna this summer! So if you want we can continue this discussion face to face then. But I will be there to have fun and dance, not to argue. 🙂
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 11:15 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:15 | View and share
Serdar Hızal replied:
I would love to discuss this face to face in Tangosauna which i also will be coming. This is not an argument from my side but more of a disagreement with what you say. Everybody wants to contribute the efforts of making world better place. If we start taking it down to this kind of details then we should also discuss about how we evolve and advanced on many disciplines that created this massive consumer minded community. For instance why people want to eat tomatoes whole year? It can only be available for 1-2 months in relatively warm climates during summer. But the world is consuming it whole year unrelated with their climate. I agree every little action drives the big picture and i appreciate your initiative about improving local tango scene but i do not see your point not to travel for tango as a solution to any of the concerns.
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 14:26 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:17 | View and share
Gabriella Berggren (Author) replied:
Yes, I believe there are lots and lots of things we can all do to gradually achieve change. By living according to our beliefs, and by letting others know what we believe in, we can prepare the ground for more fundamental and infrastructural changes. Eating local produce in season is a good example (the tomatoes you mentioned). Air traffic has increased enormously in recent years, and consumer cultures such as the one that tango has become are part of the problem. We can all help by looking at our own habits. I don’t think it would be realistic to hope for a total ban on flying. But most of us can reduce our air travel voluntarily. Abstaining from two or three trips a year, and taking the train when possible, would make a difference, if everyone did it. Meat is another serious cause of greenhouse gases. Not everyone wants to be a vegetarian, but we can reduce our consumption to perhaps once a week, or once a month. See you this summer! 🙂
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 15:07 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:15 | View and share
Serdar Hızal replied:
Looking forward
Posted 27 Mar 2018 @ 15:42 | Last modified 8 Jun 2019 @ 10:17 | View and share
Submit comment

Other stories

Event News: A magic ride! Get a glimpse of what went on during last year’s edition And prepare fo…
Sofia Galanaki | 20.03.23
Event News: It’s the early bird that catches the worm! Check out the 48h super early bird discoun…
Sofia Galanaki | 15.03.23

About stories

Share news or videos. Write reviews, interviews and essays. Blog about anything and everything ‘tango’. It’s completely free and everyone is welcome. Login (or Signup) and tap the ‘CREATE’ button in the menu.

Explore stories
Join our worldwide community and post your tango events and stories too: Signup or Login
Tangofolly Cabeceo

Keep in touch

Get a periodical roundup of all the events, stories and other news straight to your email inbox. You don’t have to be a member to stay in the loop and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Tangofolly Facebook Page Tangofolly Twitter Page Tangofolly Tumblr Page
Copyright © 2022 Tangofolly Ltd | A Follyfox Design