Tango in the time of Corona

March 18, 2020

Tango and Covid-19 Resources and Discussions

What you need to know as a tango dancer about COVID-19

Susana Miller writes about real dangers of Covid-19

Jennifer Lynn Olson, a tango teacher and outdoor guiding company program manager, writes about Tango and Covid-19

Bryan Frieman, a former biological outbreaks specialist and tango dancer, writes about Covid-19


Tango books to enjoy to lessen the suffering from tango withdrawal symptoms. 


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Jennifer Lynn Olson, a tango teacher and outdoor guiding company program manager, writes about Tango and Covid-19

March 15, 2020

Hello Radio Tango Angeles Listeners,

Jennifer Lynn Olson here writing to you from San Francisco. A bit about myself if we haven’t met – I’ve taught Argentine Tango dancing for around 16 years, I sell the top Italian Argentine tango shoe brands, and I also am the Program Manager for an Outdoor Guiding Company that guides cycling, backpacking, snowshoe, and rock climbing trips. 

I made the following post on my Facebook page a few weeks back which generated over 175 comments and numerous side discussions. I wrote: “Since no one is really asking the question yet, I’ll start. At what point do we cancel Argentine Tango milongas/festivals/workshops from an ethical standpoint? The demographic of tango dancers does skew older. I think this is a topic that all dancers and organizers should be asking themselves, but I feel like many are afraid due to the financial implications of what this reality looks like. Myself included. I’d love to know people’s thoughts.” I made this post in light of what had been happening in China, and more recently and closer to home, Italy and then Seattle. At the time I posted, no milonga outside of Seattle had decided to shutter their doors for the time being, and some were still open in Seattle as well. I posed the question as I personally was struggling with the decision on whether or not to attend SoCal Tango Championship to vend shoes. While I did feel more comfortable vending (I knew I already didn’t feel comfortable dancing and thought that it should pause for awhile), I didn’t yet understand if I felt my participation in the event was complicit. What really spoke to me over the next few weeks was how quickly public opinion in our tango community changed. I did see some initial support for closing the milongas and obviously general discussion about what we should do as a community immediately after I posted, but people were not as succinct as they would become after a bit more time, posting later with, “Now. Close now!” There were a few dissenting voices among the many in the discussion, but I do think the post attracted those that were thinking along the same lines as I was, but were cautious of being labeled as ‘over-reacting.’ Many great articles were posted, and the post became a wealth of information, not only hot takes from individuals. 

Interestingly enough, I feel the tango community is actually ahead of the general public here in the US. I suppose this makes sense since what we do is a higher risk activity in these times of contributing to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the illness, COVID-19). Now, it seems the tide has decisively swung in the direction of staying at home amongst tango dancers – respecting social distancing to flatten the curve and to do our part during this crisis. I think this also makes sense since many tango dancers are friends with Europeans who are now facing severe economic implications of their governments shutting down a large part of their non-essential business lives in their combat against this virus and attempt to reduce the burden on their over-taxed health care systems. These friends talk via facebook and information between them spreads real time. We have the fortune of being able to see ahead of the curve. Because of this, in a matter of two weeks, tango people who did not seem to be changing their lives much nor questioning the moral implications of continuing without change, have become incredibly vocal and enforcers of the ‘common good’ now on Facebook. It was quite the abrupt change – to which I am thankful as I do personally take a conservative approach to this all. 

However, I do still see the general public lagging behind a bit. I am also involved in the outdoors community and this community is only now starting to cancel events – but not completely as of yet. I believe they will catch up soon as every day is a new day with more alarming information being shared about infection rates and the severity of the illness that is more common than we think. I do not think we should sit back and passively look at how it will play out in the United States, but rather take a more proactive approach. Argentina has impressed me in many ways with their proactiveness. With very few positive cases, several milonga organizers got together and made the decision to close for two weeks. Additionally their government is taking much more decisive action than ours. Perhaps they are listening to what is happening in Italy with greater caution as Italy and Argentina are sisters countries in many ways? 

While my heart is breaking for tango and what it will look like for the next few to several months, I do appreciate the creativity that has spun from it in these depressing times – several facebook groups are popping up specifically with tango in the times of coronavirus in mind, my favorite being “Tango Covid-19 Comedy Club.” The originality of tango and it’s participants will not be stifled and we WILL hold each other in an embrace once again. We will survive and tango will survive. Please stay safe everyone! *Please note that these are my observations and opinions over the course of a few weeks of what I have seen on social media and only this, not more.*


Bryan Frieman, a former biological outbreaks specialist and tango dancer, writes about Covid-19

March 11, 2020

The coronavirus has thrown the world into turmoil. Many major events have been canceled in the past week. Given my unique position as a specialist in biological outbreaks, I can only see this as a positive move. Our world wide community of tango is defined by our close contact. In the context of an outbreak like this, the best thing we can do is mitigate the risk by temporarily avoiding contact. It is counterintuitive to our nature as dancers, but there is little choice.

The worldwide tango community is, by default, at risk to the spread of disease. We travel frequently and embrace dozens of strangers as close as we might our own family. But this intimate connection is the heart of who we are. We are seeing something previously unknown. While this is by no means the end of the world, or some zombie outbreak, it does place our community at risk for severe illness that no one wants to endure. While I’m saddened at the events cancelled recently, I also believe they have made the most prudent decision. For the organizers and teachers who do hold events in the coming weeks, keep a careful account of your attendees, and if any report illness, be prepared to notify the rest as necessary.

Susana Miller writes about real dangers of Covid-19

March 11, 2020

The real danger is the irrationality, the individualism, expressed in the taking over of hospital facilities, supermarkets, indiscriminate hoarding of essential supplies for the high-risk population such as masks. “After me, the deluge” mentality. The lack of love for the species is fatal to the individual.  Difficult situations reveal the human soul.


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