One of the things I love about Tango how it is infused with the culture that produced it. But in some Tango groups, appreciation of culture has crossed into slavish devotion to a cult.
What do I mean by "a cult"?
Well, in a cult there is a series of authoritarian rules. And members of the cult derive much of their identity from unquestioningly following the rules of the cult. Cult members dress alike, talk alike, act alike. Those who do not adhere strictly to these rules are excluded from the cult.
So when does Tango culture cross over into Tango Cult? Here are a few examples.
I have 3 pairs of Tango shoes. One very flashy "brand name" with 3-inch heels, and 2 much simpler, lower-heeled generic pairs. And I occasionally dance in low-heeled Ballroom shoes. Or jazz sneakers. Or moccasins. They all work. But there are communities where, if I do not wear my one pair of Comme Il Fauts, I get asked to dance less, and people assume I am a beginner. That is the sign of a Tango cult.
I know the Spanish names for all the Tango figures. But I am just as likely to use the English names. English is my native language, after all, and I live in an English-speaking country. But in some communities people will correct me if I use English terms, even though they know exactly what I mean. That is the sign of a Tango cult.
Tango Culture includes the unspoken invitation to dance - mirada and cabeseo. Tango Cult will not accept a polite verbal request for a dance.
Tango culture recognizes that there are many ways to dance Tango. Tango Cult says there is only one true way to dance Tango - usually the style of the local Tango guru. Cults have gurus.
Sharing Tango Culture should be an act of inclusion, not an initiation into an exclusionary club. Cults are exclusionary.
I want my Tango community to be warmly inviting.
Not a cult.