Hello good people,
September marks the 10th year of Abrazo Queer Tango. Goodness. To mark the occasion, I’d like to take a moment to review how we began, our origin story, to put down for the record how it is that we arrived at this point. Jump to the end for the queer tango schedule this month.
This is how I remember it and what it meant to me. In early 2010, a group of queer dancers from QueerTango SF (love to Auriel, Winter Held, Amy Little and Marc Vanzwoll) and Tango Fuego (gratitude to Maya Bergman) wanted to dance several times a week, and so we headed out to straight tango venues in small packs, 2-3 at times, 15 peeps deep at others.
We met wonderful folks, dancers, teachers and organizers who were cool, deep into tango, so talented and supportive from the beginning and still today. We also came face to face with subtle and not so subtle forms of homophobia and transphobia. It was challenging, but we pressed on, arranging “queer tango outings” each week. An email list developed. Favorite teachers and venues identified. We huddled after outings: was this working for everyone, how were folks feeling, what were folks doing to deflect the bigotry and still take in all the joy. A pattern emerged: Some of us had a pretty good time, most of the time, and some of us were taking it on the chin more often than not.
And then two things happened. A teacher was overheard questioning why we had come to his class — it was one of those nights when we were 15 deep, outnumbering the straight dancers, putting the room on edge. On another night, a trans guy, a beautiful follower with the most genuine embrace, was passed over by several leaders in a beginner’s class at one of our favorite spots. He was not supposed to be alone in class, but a couple of queer tango peeps had cancelled. A few of us taking the intermediate class ran into him outside. He played it off a bit, wished the rest of us a good night, but his eyes were wet around the edges, and he never came out with us again. He quit tango.
This was a breaking point for me. You’d have to ask others there at the time what motivated them, but I wanted tango without the blah blah blah for myself and my peeps. I didn’t want to organize another tango event that didn’t hold up every queer and trans dancer as beautiful and worthy. The hardest thing about learning tango should be learning tango.
Things moved quickly over the next year. We hosted a free night of tango at Duboce Park Cafe in SF on Tuesdays. A queer milonga in SF on Sept. 10th 2011, organized by myself, Evan and Marc, was a blast that lost money (but we paid our teacher and DJ well). Someone made flyers. Soon after we rented a room at Lake Merritt Dance Center for queer classes, originally on Wednesdays. A day of queer tango workshops followed. Someone figured out wordpress. And Abrazo Queer Tango was born. We had a different name at first, but the mission was the same: let’s learn to pivot in peace, let’s get as big as the European and Buenos Aires queer tango communities, lets come, all of us, as we are and dance as we wish. (In the line of dance people!)
This quote from Peter Staley sums it up:
“I think it’s a great way to live, to fight for yourself, to fight for your friends, to fight for a community of individuals who are sharing your experience and to fight for dignity and a better life, and there will be a tipping point. There will be victories and they will be joyous.”
Since that first year, so many talented and beautiful people have put their time, energy and money into making Abrazo Queer Tango what it is today, a volunteer run organization with weekly queer tango classes and a practica, a monthly milonga, special events, and a queer tango festivalito. We are a part of a growing and diverse SF Bay Area queer tango kingdom that is connected with a stunning world wide queer tango community. I’m excited to see what happens from here. Thank you for being a part of us.
If not for COVID, we would do it up so very grand this month dear ones, instead, we are happy to announce our first true beginner’s class + hour long practica since the pandemic started. Seems fitting to start this month in the simple way that Abrazo began. If it’s safe for you, we would love to see you. If not this month, one day it will be so.
Long live queer tango.
COVID SAFETY REMINDER:
We dance on with caution and care following the Covid guidance from Alameda County.
For Abrazo Events, dancers must be fully vaccinated* with proof of status required.
Class size is limited to 22
*Find out how to provide proof of vaccination and read our full policy: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hwC5NYb0Cdo2tuB7OcdYs5zR3lklCz45jTdRuB0UOK8/edit?usp=sharing
BEGINNER’S SERIES WITH MIRA BARAKAT
Finnish Brotherhood Hall | 1970 Chestnut St. Berkeley.
September 5, 12, 19 and 26
Class limited to 22 dancers
3:30-3:40 pm Check in
3:40-4:30 pm: Beginner’s class, new dancers welcome. This is a fun, no pressure, introduction to tango basics ideal for new dancers, rusty dancers who haven’t hit the dance floor in a long while and folks who want to switch roles.
PRO TIP: Inviting a new dancer is one of the BEST ways to grow our community. Please consider telling a friend or two about our first beginner series since the start of the pandemic.
-4-week series, includes class and practica: $55
-Walk-ins welcome: $15 per class
-Practica alone: $5
-Students with ID: $28 series, $8 class + practica, $3 practica alone
No refunds or exchanges
Covid hit your pocketbook? Don’t worry we got you covered. Email us for a sliding scale / pay what you can voucher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cash or check at the door
Venmo: abrazo-tango (Karen Curtis)
We prefer the above payment options, but can also use eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/beginner-queer-tango-series-tickets-164758317563
Questions, please email us: email@example.com.
THESE THINGS ARE JUST COOL
This is from Tango Queer Santigo: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=190451882343300&ref=sharing, a short video that features Ariel, now with us in the Bay area, and it’s a beautiful reminder of what queer tango can do for us.
Humans of Tango: A podcast series with one episode that Features Augusto La Marshall being the shining gem that he is: http://humansoftango.com/e/reflections-of-a-queer-tango-trailblazer/
Lexa Rosean, the legendary butch milonguero who started the first lesbian milonga in NYC, on Being Queer in Tango before Queer Tango was from her interview by Miranda Lindelow at one of our virtual abrazo milongsas last year. Here’s an excerpt: https://tigerstango.blogspot.com/2020/12/on-being-queer-in-tango-before.html?fbclid=IwAR2iglef28dfQB86RIgYvetiObrpzsOvMeqMHGILJCXgJiTpbYvfzz32h38
Check out Lexa’s bio: https://abrazoqueertango.wordpress.com/guest-lecturer/
IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
A moment of gratitude to all of the wonderful magic makers who have been working the doors, checking vax cards, taking temperatures and rolling with the punches of set-up and clean-up. We could not be doing this without you, truly. Beverly, Alisa, Lenore, Nik, Douglas, Amy Dewey, Janette, Monika, Gaelle, Sabrina and Karen Goetz. Deep bow of gratitude for making it possible for us to dance and prance with a bunch of new safety protocols.
Please consider joining our Abrazo team workers–help keep our community running with a half-hour of time (or more): firstname.lastname@example.org