If you have a low opinion of milonga marketing, the following is not going to improve it much. As you know, a weekly milonga absorbs the full effects of popular Champions League matches, obscene city center parking rates, and rain. It may drive organisers to morally questionable decisions. The diversity of options for tango dancing sometimes seems like modern day television: too many options and nothing on. To cope with the unpredictable fluctuations of demand, some milongas attempt guerilla marketing tactics. The oldest and most used trick in the book is, to come up with something to celebrate.
I never really noticed the remarkable stream of celebrations in tango land, until I got into milonga organising myself. Suddenly, it seemed parties were happening everywhere, similar to how you see the new car you just bought on every street. I couldn’t help thinking: hang on, don’t we have something to celebrate too? Soon enough, the question was not, which pretext to use for a party, but how many celebrations can one realistically get away with? Valentine’s Day, King’s Anniversary, Liberation Day, Easter and Christmas are all perfectly justifiable, of course. New Year’s Eve is tempting, but a poisoned fruit, because many people prefer to stay in the warm embrace of family that night. New Year’s milongas, on the other hand, are great: you can never have enough of those in January.
The ‘party’ has become the most frequently used weapon in the war to attract indecisive tango nomads. Inexplicably, our Amsterdam milonga is permanently decorated with a full array of party flags and serpentines. We don’t really have an explanation for it but we are always ready for a party. Christmas decorations appear magically by themselves and stay up for at least two months; the trees only go away when the weather gets balmy. Shortest Day, Midsummer’s Day, World Day of Tango… all plausible ideas that have proven to work. You can throw in an Umpteenth Milonga Milestone party, or, the inevitable Visit Of A Very Important Maestro. Birthdays of regular visitors can be effective. Also, I have seen a Commemoration Of A Famous, Recently Deceased Milonguero, if presented with some taste, it will get the job done.
For many people, the desire to break the pattern of everyday life is strong. That’s why so many of us book our next holiday the day after our return from the last. Having something to look forward to makes life so much more enjoyable, and, ruthless milonga marketeers exploit this weakness of the human psyche. However, one wants to avoid credibility issues and something called ‘party devaluation’. This is why I propose to celebrate, every week, the fact that all of us made it to another Tuesday. Let’s call it the Carpe That Diem Party. It’s as good a reason as any, I simply love to see you and that’s all the celebration I need. Soon, we may see our Four Hundred And Eighty Third edition, and the week after we’ll celebrate edition Four Hundred And Eighty Four, or whatever milestone comes to mind. I mean, that’s huge isn’t it?