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June 28, 2007


Tango in Singapore, 8 years old

As the Tango scene in Singapore heads towards its 8-year anniversary, especially for those of us who have been dancing during much of that period, one can’t help but feel that much still remains to be done to popularise this dance we all enjoy.

After all, compared to other places in Asia which started at a similar time, e.g. Taipei (2000) and Hong Kong (1995), the Argentine Tango community in Singapore has remained relatively small. In fact, rather curiously, the two mentioned places have grown through opposite community dynamics: Taipei has blossomed through excellent teaching and management from a large but close-knit core committee, while the scene in Hong Kong has literally exploded through diversity and offerings from numerous instructors of differing styles. On the other hand, we in Singapore can only lament all the missed opportunities.

What will be the likely scenario for Singapore?

The message on TangoSingapore’s website ahead of the 8th anniversay contains a curious request for the community to

“regain its bedrock community value, and reembark on the path towards the Golden Age of creativity, excellence and inclusiveness.”

While it is fair to say that the overall level of dancing needs to go up an extra notch given the age of our community, it is not immediately obvious to me what needs to be “regained”. After all, has anything been missing in the first place!?

In fact, since the early days (and this was long before the term Tango Singapore was even mentioned which did not happen until 2003) when, despite the absence of decent local teacher, all the early “pioneers” were struggling and sharing ideas together in practicas in a small room at the (now demolished) Drama Centre, until the present where there are two event organisers (namely IXI Danza and Abrazos) and one or two others catering exclusively to the high society) and four dance studios offering Tango classes, all organized events have been well-publicised and open to public. Similarly as far as I can remember all new-comers have always been warmly received, hence befitting the “inclusive” tag. Even now, except for the handful of functions restricted to places requiring paid membership, it seems that there are no closed-door parties in sight!?

For the small Tango community in Singapore, offering choices and avoiding monopoly is in my opinion the best catalyst for growth. Furthermore, perhaps an important step towards greater awareness is to organize events outside of the usual venues, and bring Tango into more public places like restaurants and dance clubs? Another consideration is to of course to take more risks and invite the best overseas teachers to help improve the community’s standard.

It is also clear, however, that improvements as a whole can only happen through the continual dedication of local teachers, and supplemented by inviting top teachers with first-class teaching credentials from overseas. If very little excitement is generated in the community from time to time, status quo is likely to continue and, with natural attrition at work, our community can only suffer and remain small as a result. Nevertheless, I am certain brighter prospects will come through hard work and dedication to the Tango truth.

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