The importance of leaving unsatisfied

It felt as though, on Friday, our community had a little life injected into it. Life in the form of a handful of visitors from a neighboring community. Interestingly enough, I only danced with one leader out of the ordinary, but I still felt like the entire evening was refreshed by their presence. I also had the frustrating experience of finally catching up to one of the other visiting leaders as the last tanda began, and as usual I was already taken for it. So I ended the night with that desire to keep dancing.

And it made me think: I have been noticing a stronger sense that our community is too small, that our community is stagnating, that it feels tired. I think it can be traced to a fairly obvious problem. At every milonga I go to, I see more or less the same people. In the course of one night, I can usually dance with every single leader who interests me. I can even dance with them and still have time to socialize. As a result, there isn’t the pull to the next milonga. I know that at the milonga tonight I am likely to see the same people I saw on Friday. I will dance with my friends and enjoy it–goodness knows I love the experiences I do have–but I am rarely left with that sense that I missed out and need to catch someone next time.

There is no easy solution. We can’t magically bring excellent dancers into our community, and they don’t spring up from nowhere. But I also feel the sense that there are few beginners, few dancers who are coming to classes or moving from classes further into the community. I wish there were a clear way to help our community grow, because as much as I love my favorite leaders I think I need more. I want to go to the milonga and leave wanting more.

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5 thoughts on “The importance of leaving unsatisfied

  1. A very interesting question. Influenced by a lot of things. The interests and priorities of the individuals who make up the community are not necessarily the same as each other. Then there are some individuals who have a real influence over what happens, and a lot who don’t – or whose influence is limited to either handing over their money, or not doing so. The problem of moving from classes further into the community is quite important, I think. That’s where it starts to matter a lot what the community looks like to an outsider.

  2. I think the biggest success I have seen in our community is at one of the universities. They attract a lot of graduate students (who tend to stick around for quite a while and are more interested in the community outside of the university itself, unlike most undergrads). They have classes as well as a free practica. So it isn’t too hard for a student to be curious enough to take a class, after which they decide to practice a bit, after which they decide to check out a milonga (knowing that a good number of dancers who attend the practica will be there). The downside is when those students, or the students who organize the activities on campus, get busy with quals and the like.

    Sorin, if I had a little more time for travel I would definitely come visit! 🙂 Someday, I am sure.

  3. Of course there are some leaders I can dance with again and again and never get tired of… so I always have the “Just one more tanda” effect… I mean if you do one tango, vals and milonga with someone… that’s three tandas right there… add in alt… and dances with the other fave leaders… and that pretty much fills a night…

    On the other topic, I am actually shocked at how FEW people have escaped the University vortex and make it into the community as a whole. (Those who actually run the milongas or their SOs being the exception, not the rule). Most of the “university people” are actually imports from other university programs that continue dancing once they get here… not sure how to change that….

  4. Very true, but it seems somehow qualitatively different when you don’t get any dances at all with someone in any given night…

    I might have a skewed perspective on the university issue, given that I came out of it in just the way I described (grad student encouraged to go to the practica and lured to SN with promises of familiar faces). I think this year’s wonky university leadership (resulting in hiatuses and less university-wide collaboration) has hindered things significantly, but I also can’t speak to what happened before I started. Hm. Maybe all we really need is more publicity and hype to attract people.

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