The Waiting List Conspiracy

Story | Opinion | Martin van Kesteren | 20 Mar 2023 | 0 comments

‘Waiting lists for events are just a bullshit way to keep certain people out,’ she said to me. ‘Isn’t it just because women respond quickly, and men don’t?’, I offered. She chuckled at my naivete. ‘Men are slobs.’ I couldn’t argue with that. She added, ‘Men are not looking at event schedules because they’ll get in any way.’ ‘But how can they? Some events are like rock concerts, they sell out in hours.’ ‘It’s the women, with their fingers hanging over the Send button. There are no waiting lists for leaders. They slither in, just before the event.’ I knew this to be plausible. Happened to me one time. ‘But I’m sick of it. I’m going on a Leading Ladies training and sign up as a leader myself’.

Yes, there is such a thing as a Waiting List Conspiracy Theory. For those of you unfamiliar with the field, popular tango events have waiting lists, almost exclusively filled by women. Dancers want a balanced event of leaders and followers, and compatible dance levels. So that’s what the organisers try to give them. But it sucks to be on a waiting list. The suspicion of nepotism has been hanging over waiting lists, ever since the phenomenon emerged. ‘I’m certain they move you lower on the list for a friend or a pretty face, ‘she continued. ‘First come, first serve, my ass. Some sexy dancer signs in late and goes straight to the top of the list. Who’s to know?’ I could see her point. ‘I don’t believe tango people would do that,” I said. She chuckled again. “You don’t know tango people the way I do.”

I remembered this conversation, and similar ones, when I launched a balanced event myself, a couple of months ago. On the word-of-mouth buzz of the event the first burst of applications was 60% followers, 39% leaders, one percent double-rolers. We have limited space, so we must set a threshold. After a few days, I had to stop accepting followers because there weren’t enough leaders signing up. I published the event on various sites. Leaders trickled in, but the followers kept their momentum, too: among them old friends I had been wanting to dance with myself for some time. So now, I was the one with Waiting List Power to wield and to carry the burden of integrity.

Satan kept me awake at night, whispering in my ear. “Who are some of those women, who made their reservations at lightning speed? You never heard of them, right? They haven’t been in your milonga before, so what do you owe them?” Like Oscar Wilde, I can resist anything except temptation. However, I’ve learned the hard way that a man must be able to look in the mirror and respect the person looking back at him. So, I resisted “optimizing” the list to make some friends’ lives a little better. But I realize most organizers are humans: some may have been avoiding mirrors lately, or still have to experience this opportunity for personal growth.

“Maybe you should organize your own event”, I suggested to my friend. “Ensure it’s fair.” “I’d rather train to be a leader,” she said. “I’d love to know what it feels like to be one of those slobs myself, for a change.”

 



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Published: 20 Mar 2023 @ 19:04

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