I don’t know how many times the phrase “tango community” has come out of my mouth. Too many to remember.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a community, and how community building works. I have been thinking about why people stick with tango and how the community has to do with that. I have been thinking about the different roles that exist in a community. And today I read this:
In modern times, the idea of “community” has increasingly been expanded to include not just the place where one lives, but the web of relationships into which one is embedded. Work, school, voluntary associations, computer networks – all are communities, even though the members live quite far apart.
But according to psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, for any group to achieve community in the truest sense, it must undertake a journey that involves four stages: “pseudocommunity,” where niceness reigns; “chaos,” when the emotional skeletons crawl out of the closet; “emptiness,” a time of quiet and transition; and finally, true community, marked both by deep honesty and deep caring.
Source: “The Joy of Community”
Sometimes, it really feels like tango creates a pseudocommunity (at least in some places). Sure, real friendships can grow out of it, and small groups of friends can thrive in it, but all in all the greater community doesn’t feel honest or caring. And maybe it doesn’t have to. Some people talk about the anonymity of the milonga, a place where you can step out of your real life and just dance. Sometimes I want to retreat into that shroud of mystery, too.
But isn’t tango about the connection? About opening yourself up to your dance partner? A community may always have those mysterious, unknown people at its fringes, but at the core of any community there has to be openness, honesty, and trust. There has to be support. The article I linked to talks about the importance of consensus (and deciding what “consensus” means — read the article for a GREAT definition). I don’t think my tango community really has all of that. Does yours?
So here I am, with a good vision of what I think a community should be—and a community that isn’t there yet. But I am not considered a leader in my community. So now what?