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▪ Letter From the Editor
▪ What, When, and Where
▪ Focus on Our QueerTango Community: Community Voices
▪ Contact Information

Letter From the Editor

Dear Queer Tango Dancers,

The good news is that COVID-19 numbers are going down. Which also means that eventually Queer Tango’s long and challenging hibernation will be over some day, and warm tango embraces will pop up like Winter Crocus Flowers.

The great thing about Queer Tango being a social dance, is that we also make friends. Friends that if we can’t dance safely with at the moment, are still friends that we can socialize with through technological means … landlines, cellphones, Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp, and so on. And in keeping this connection with our friends, we maintain community while also supporting people that may feel socially isolated. A warm voice, a warm smile, can do wonders in the absence of a tango embrace. (If you haven’t talked to a Queer Tango acquaintance in a while, this might be a good time to reach out.)

This month, because I sent out a question (see the Community section below), I was fortunate to be in contact with people who I normally only interact with while at tango events. Sometimes it was only through text, other times, video. And it was nice to be in contact, check-in with each other on how we were coping through the pandemic, discuss Queer Tango, share thoughts, and afterwards ponder on these interactions and ideas. One conversation that stood out was with Daniel and Reto regarding how Appenzell Innerrhoden (AI) became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues in 1991. Reto also mentioned that traditionally men raised their swords to vote. Swords passed down through generations from father to son. Coincidentally, the next day, Bernd and I viewed the Poster Exhibit at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, and we came upon a 1946 poster of the Zürich Cantonal Committee against women’s suffrage. As opposed to a raised sword, the graphic was a cane carpet beater. And below, the inscription, “FRAUENSTIMMRECHT nein”. Then. And now. We have come such a long way. And there remains still much to be done for a fully equal and open society.

It reminds me of Zürich’s progressive society and its present Mayor, Corine Mauch. People don’t care that she’s a woman. Or that she’s married to a woman. What matters is how Mayor Mauch governs. As it should be. Maybe not at the speed we wish, times continue to change with more egalitarian rights for a diverse population. And perhaps Queer Tango is a good example of what is possible in a progressive society.

Warm hugs,
Marc Vanzwoll

What, When, and Where

On 28 October 2020, the Federal Council announced new COVID-19 measures, which is why Chante Clair remains temporarily closed. The November QueerTango Zurich Milonga on November 27, 2020 must therefore unfortunately be cancelled.

Focus on Our QueerTango Community: Community Voices

The Two-Way Exchange Between Traditional and Queer Tango

As Zurich Queer Tango Dancers, and part of the global Queer Tango Community, we take elements directly from the Traditional Tango blueprint and shape them to fit our needs and in the process create non-traditional Tango aspects to suit the LGBTQ Dancer. However, is this a one-way flow? Does Queer Tango also influence and contribute to the development of Traditional Tango? We asked and following are some of your current thoughts and reflections.

Why Queer Tango?

“Dancing both roles is an extension and enrichment. I would even say that for someone the tango is only complete when both roles are danced. Unfortunately for many dancers, role and gender are (too) tightly connected. Of course, as a gay man I enjoy dancing with a man all the more; but what is most important to me is to experience a beautiful Tanda, no matter what role and gender of the partner is.” Alain Zurbuchen

“With the dissolution of normative gender roles, (for me) communication in dance becomes more diverse and equal.” Barbara Käser

“The Tango has as many faces as people who dance it. A person has as many faces as she or he allows. I like to give my ‘inner peoples’ space to live as they please. Queer is one of those spaces where I can switch between roles. Queer multiplies the possibilities of interaction with the other person, expands the horizon of experience. A veritable fresh cell treatment - this is how tango stays alive and reinvents itself again and again.” Daniela Huser

One of you also said that we might have to distinguish between social and passionate tandas and cultures, between open and narrow-minded, not only between LGBTQI and straight cultures. And you suggested to ask the question anew and in a non-binary way.

What Kind of Impact Does Queer Tango Have?

Some of you have said that the influence of Queer Tango on Traditional Tango is less on growth but more on quality. For example, you have seen tolerance in the Traditional Tango Community increase.

You also have said that Queer Tango can help break up traditional roles and rules in the wider Tango Community, and that this enhancement of perspectives can make the dance a better experience for all. In your words, “Tango should be a dance for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. The joy of dance and enthusiasm knows no gender and no affiliation - everyone can and should take on the role in the dance that suits them and gives them pleasure. ‘The Tango’ doesn't care who dances it - the main thing is to feel the joy and passion. The LGBT-Community can point with self-confidence to its uniqueness - there are no limits for us - we are open and free.”

With fresh imagery and outreach, certainly Queer Tango draws dancers from populations that are often overlooked when creating new generations of Tango Dancers.

"Queer Tango certainly has an influence on the growth and development of Tango. Since in Queer Tango the dance partners can often lead and follow, the role of the counterpart is perceived more consciously. That makes it easier to put oneself in the shoes of the dancing partner, and to imagine better what the other person feels while dancing.
The more same-sex couples dance in a traditional milonga, the more the traditional tango dancers are encouraged [to explore multiple roles] right away. [And therefore] there are more opportunities to experience tango and to improve skills. And this leads to a more confident attitude to move in the world of tango. This in turn leads to more tango dancers.” Isabelle Macciacchini

Not only does Queer Tango help improve understanding and skills, Queer Tango also directly questions gender roles. The Tango lexicon includes now common phrases; “Queer Tango”, “Open-Role”, “Same-Sex”, “Women Leaders”, “Male Followers”, “Role Exchange” and “Intercambio”, and with classes/workshops focused on these tango topics. Perhaps the Queer Tango community is more reflective of a progressive Zurich society in that it doesn’t matter the gender or sexuality or role, rather more important is the quality of the tango experience.

“Tango has changed with the times. Like today more women are working in an office environment than before, while more men are taking care of children than in the past. I think that regardless of gender, in tango people should be able to dance both roles like many Queer Tango dancers. If you can express both roles in tango, I think this is ideal for traditional as well as Queer Tango dancers. I'm a woman and I mostly act as a follower, but I think there is a leader's macho in my body. I think it is the charm of tango that I can show myself fully inside and outside. If you can play both roles well, I think you can dance tango most freely and happily. This is because many, if not all, people have the potential to play both roles. From this point of view, everyone - a leader or a follower - can take tango to the level of art where they can express both roles like Queer Tango Dancers.
Today, many tango dancers want to know all details of tango regardless of gender or role. People want to learn everything about Tango, its aspects for a leader and a follower. I think this will define Tango anew because of Queer Tango. We watch the Queer Tango more than before.” Doy Jeung

What Does the Future Hold?

“For generations we have been discussing in the mainstream tango scene how to change the fixed and outdated gender roles in tango. But so far, we have hardly succeeded in breaking these patterns. The Queer Tango scene has a completely different approach. It offers the mainstream tango scene a working, happy alternative and can be a model for change.” Karin Schneider


A word of thanks: I am grateful to everyone who responded. In addition to the people cited above, this includes Be, Karin, and Reto. I’m also grateful to the people I discussed the merits of this article with including Leslie Fernandez, Brigitta Winkler, and Karen Curtis. And importantly to Bernd Kasemir, my husband, for helping with the editing and translations of this article and newsletter.

Contact Information

Marc Vanzwoll
Tango Teacher – Classes, Workshops, Private Lessons

+41 (0)79 474 10 37
QueerTango Zürich

© Copyright 2020
All contents, especially texts, photographs and graphics are protected by copyright. QueerTango Zürich reserves all rights, including reproduction, publication, editing and translation.

What should queer tango be like in the future?

Open call: The Queer Tango Project is asking for answers in almost any format to this question to go into ‘Queer Tango Futures’ – its next eBook intends to help shape the future of queer tango. We welcome submission in English and Spanish.

The Deadline for submissions is 31st January 2021.
Email: queertangofutures@gmail.com

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