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February 2, 2009


Politics in Tango?

Had an interesting conversation after the milonga the other day. Eventually the topic of conversation turned to politics in tango.

I have to admit, despite having come across the phrase “tango politics” in various blogs and conversations in the past, I am still not entirely sure about its precise meaning? Very often “tango politics” seems to be used to describe situations where various groups/schools exist in the same “community” and they don’t see eye to eye. However, even in such cases, I think it is usually an overkill to use the term “politics” because this type of group dynamics is part of human nature, no? After all, isn’t that why people have close friends, acquaintances, “hi-bye” friends, etc.? It is normal to have likes and dislikes and people are free to choose who they want or don’t want to work with, as far as I am concerned.

In addition, jointly organising events involves many practical issues. While it may seem like a good idea to have all camps involved in some project, at the end of the day, there are surely business or creative decisions which are best made by the people who are both more capable and experienced. As a matter of fact, if the various groups are catering to different segments of markets, then they should be able to co-exist happily without needing much interaction, even if similar services are provided.

On the other hand, it is a rather clear-cut situation of “politics” at play when you have a teacher who actively discourages his students to mix around with other groups. Or, imagine having event organisers who promotes their own events by denigrating events organised by competitors.

However, what would you call it when you get the rare situation where a teacher actively encourages his students to try out different groups’ activities but decides to sit out (for one reason or other) from the activities run by others? Can you still label this as “tango politics”!? For me, it would be a tough call because attending an event/activity or not is very much a personal choice. It is also clear that any event should be able to stand on its own, without needing the “endorsement” from a rival. Unfortunately, from experience, once different groups come into existence, people tend to automatically associate the community leaders with unhealthy competition of the first kind.

I wonder what’s it like in your part of the world?

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1 Comment
  1. Aaron Michael
    Aug 11 2012

    Cooperation – Competition – Co-opetition? If there is mutuality and the acceptance of preferences, then how might the distinction between them allow for growth. In the end, the mutual goal for all is to grow the market.

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