Minutes from the First Tango Chat

Tango Addicts are known to hide shoes in the freezer


The first ever TangoChat was a great success—just like the dance, full of improvisations and surprises. On Sunday, June 19, at 4 p.m. fifteen of us showed up at Caffe Trieste for this inaugural event. Like other 12 step meetings, we introduced ourselves with first names only: Sasha, Camille, Christa, Federico, Bruce, Sandy, Sonja, Bob, Carolyn, Jody, Michele, Helen, Greg, Lewis, Linyee.

“I believe in tang-god,” said Federico when we were all assembled and called to order.

“Second the motion,” I said.

We went around the table introducing ourselves, making comments here and there:

• My name is Camille, I’m a tango addict. I quit my day job six years ago to devote my life to it.”

• Welcome, Camille!

• I’m not really an addict; I’ve danced ballroom for 20 years.

• Well, maybe we can work on enabling you.

• Tango is my mission [in life].

• I’m married to a tango addict.

• I got addicted in Santa Fe—I became obsessed with tango’s many nuances, facets, flavors, its multi-level subtleties.

• I’m not really a tango addict.

• We’ll work on you, too, enabling you.

• I have totally blacked out during a tanda (a leader saying this); I couldn’t remember a thing about it later. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

• I tango five nights a week. I train when not dancing—soccer, running.

• Hi, my name is Bruce, I’m a late-onset addict. My wife is not as hooked as I am. I had to learn how to do it for a trip to Paris.

• Welcome, Bruce, keep coming back, you’ll love it.

• (From a leader): I’m thinking of putting up orange cones at some of the milongas [where the floorcraft is anarchic].

We went on to discuss things important to us. For example, one leader asked could there be a non-violent means of communication between him and the follower where she could gently signal him if something is off for her, like a squeeze of the hand say if he is holding her too tight. Sonja nodded and agreed, yes. The follower can move her back a friendly way to signal the leader, “too tight” or “too high, too low.”

You’ve heard of the 8-step basic, here are the Twelve Steps: I am familiar with Al-Anon, having once been a regular attendee, so I took it upon myself to playfully transpose the Al-Anon 12 Steps to Tango Addicts Anonymous 12 Steps. I tried to adhere to the original wording and asked the TangoChat participants to comment, edit, alter, or not. To my pleasant surprise, everyone took the steps very seriously and had many good changes. I didn’t capture them all. But here are the steps as I transposed them with some of the suggestions for word change in [brackets]. Enjoy and share your own:

1. We admitted we felt more powerful [engaged, present, vibrant, joyful, alive] with tango—other dances had become uninteresting [less interesting].

2. Came to believe that a power greater than the sum of tango’s parts led us to the dance.

3. Made a decision to show up at milongas, surrender [or yield to the night, the music], and dance tango as we understood it.

4. Made a fearless and searching inventory of the steps we knew and those in need of improvement.

5. Admitted to the gods, ourselves, and that one other human being of the moment, the exact nature of our tango style.

6. Were entirely astonished how dancing tango removed [softened] all our defects of character.

7. Humbly asked our teachers to help us with our shortcomings.

8. Made a mental list of those we hoped to tango with and became willing to meet them on the dance floor for an entire tanda.

9. Made a show of [Let emerge] our favorite adornments except when to do so would injure our partner or surrounding dancers.

10. Continued to take classes and improve our inventory of figures and when we stepped wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through this dance and its contemplative aspect to improve our contact with higher consciousness and the gods [goddesses] of tango, praying only to [stay connected] be able to carry out the next step without anticipating.

12. Having had an awakening as a result of tango, vowed to carry this message to others, enable tango addicts everywhere, and practice these principles in all our affairs [or give a good ride?].

Sonja, who also teaches Transformation Tango on Saturdays at La Pista, had to prepare the caffe for her class and milonga. So we adjourned a little before 6pm and ten of us moved to my little studio in the Marina to eat, drink, and chat some more. We had crowd-pleasing pasta (lemon-pepper ribbons with mushroom sauce and rigatoni with sausage and tomato sauce), wine, bread, cheese, salad.

At 9pm, we all headed to Studio Gracia and followed our passion.

If you couldn’t make this one, watch for the next one – in late August or September. We’ll post at tangomango.org.

I have an idea for an illegal outdoor milonga-meeting. The bunker tunnel on Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands is a sacred place now that World War II is behind us. If you have not heard the Tibetan bowl player chant there, you must. There is a flute player, too, from Hawaii. And I think it would be a good place to christen with Tango for Peace. The floor is concrete so it would be a token milonga – not lasting long, just enough to infuse the stone, woods, the ocean views, the bridge, and all you can see from there with tango, the dance of peaceful revolutions.


  1. Pj Schott says

    Thank you for sharing. Such a brilliant concept. And I love the idea of putting up orange cones to enforce line of dance.

  2. PJ, come to the next Tango Chat – meet Drs O & N.

  3. Dear Camille & friends, My name is BB. I am a tango addict going thru withdrawl. What to do? Our milonga is only once a month, classes once per week. My practice partner is unavailable and its unknown for how long. I am having spasms of doing boleos while walking and holding my dog to my chest. Reading the 12 steps was empowering, but did not address how to survive w/out a partner… I am weekening, my power dissapating…can you offer any help? or sympathy? Also, Ive never put my shoes in the freezer…what are the benefits of that? Will it help me in my deprived state? Ready to try most anything….signed, Tango starved…

  4. Dear BB, Hang on – OMAT! one moment at a time. I am consulting with Tango Doctors Ocaramia and Nureyev and they will have a solution for you within 48 hours. Meanwhile, I suggest you read about them in Tales of Two Tangos:
    OH, the shoe in freezer: If you look closely you’ll see a bag of ice – as the water expands it stretches the shoe – sometimes this works, but this time it was not as effective.

  5. Thank you for sending the link to tale of two tangos… It was completely joyful. I look forward to advice from Drs O & N. Meanwhile, remaining grateful for being on the tango road, while going thru the desert…