The Hard Self-Work of Creating Safer Dance Spaces



One thing that increases my anxiety about returning to tango (online and in person) is the fraught debates over what constitutes unwanted, or "bad ",  behavior in milongas/practicas/classes. I won't wade into the specifics because I think those arguments risk missing the larger points. No matter how we decide to frame our community rules, or guidelines, for safe dance spaces - there are things we all need to remember, and work on.

TL;DR: Humans are messy. Human interactions are messy.  We make mistakes. We're not as good as we think we are at reading other people, or at communicating our intentions. And alcohol makes us even worse.

I took a "Dealing with Difficult People" training course when I worked at the University of Texas a few years ago. The first thing our instructor told us:
Someone out there thinks you're the *sshole.
Of course all of us had entered the classroom thinking we were learning how to deal with that other person, you know - the difficult person. The instructor's first point was his most important one - each of us is someone's "difficult person." We all behave badly at times. We all make mistakes. We all sometimes misread the room. We f*ck up.
Here are a few good starting points to guide our self-work when we want to judge others' behavior in tango events (or anywhere):

Like I said, we're messy.

I'm not advocating tolerating predatory or abusive behavior. I believe in making spaces safe for the kind of vulnerability that tango asks of us. Expectations at the community level should be as clear as we can make them. But the list of rules on a webpage is only the beginning of creating a safer dance community. The hard work rests with each of us.


Grieving, Healing, Returning to Tango


It looks like I will finally be able to rejoin the tango community and start going to milongas again. Hubby has informed me that I'm getting grumpy with all this isolation and it's time to be social again.  Masking will still be mandatory for me since I'm a caregiver, though masks seem to have fallen out of favor in my local milongas. We do have vaccinated-only events and I'll probably stick to those. 

Hopefully my nerves won't get the better of me. I haven't danced in so long. I stopped dancing due to illness more than a year before COVID hit. I'm out of practice and not as steady as I once was. I've started up solo practice again and I'll probably start out by going to practicas rather than milongas. Just to get my tango-legs, as it were. I'm hopeful.

It's been a long few years. I lost my mother, her mother and then her father. I've lost three tango friends, including my best friend in tango. I think losing my friend Renee delayed me even further in returning to tango. I don't know how to be in milongas without her. She was my tango soulmate. I miss her every single day. I miss my mom more than I can find words for. I still talk to her, still hear the way she might answer me. It seems like I lost so much so fast. Tango had been, up until a few years ago, how I coped with grief. Not having that outlet, that connection, set me adrift for awhile. I let the isolation take me over, I think. I forgot to want to go outside. I forgot to want to connect. It's hard to explain that sensation. 

My health is still an issue. I have some hearing loss that may be a permanent issue. I get tired quickly. But I have to do something. I have to get out of my house, out of my head, and out into the world. It's been so easy to stay inside.

I've never stopped creating tango art and listening to tango music. Creating art has given me a way to stay in tango, even when I couldn't go dancing. Creating prizes and marketing material for milonga organizers has been so much fun. I love the idea that my art is turning up in milongas in Greece, in the United Kingdom, even in Australia and New Zealand! I haven't been able to go to milongas, but at least my art has. I'll be sharing my latest art and where to find it on this blog. Though it might take me a little while to catch up.

I'll be using this space to chronicle my journey back into tango - the good and the bad. I'm in a very different headspace than I was when I last danced. I don't recognize the woman in the pictures tagged with my name. The memories feel like they happened to someone else. Two things are just as true now, though, as they were when I last danced, as they have always been.

Tango waits for you.

Tango meets you where you are.

See you in the milongas.


Art is a wound turned into light.

Hello Patrons, Clients and Friends,

Thank you once again for your patience and kind words, here and on the socials. It's been a hard year, and a particularly awful month. For those who don't follow me on the social media sites, I lost my mom, her mom (my grandmother) and my aunt (my mom's sister) in the span of 6 months. One year ago, on my birthday, I lost my birth mother. I've lost two of my pets who were elderly, and while that wasn't unexpected, it was still awful. A truly terrible year.

I only share all of this because I want to take the time here, on the platforms for the patrons of my art, to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. We are all separated, isolated from loved ones, scared and anxious for ourselves, our families and friends, our jobs. It's a terrible time for so many. And yet it's been my art friends, clients and patrons reaching out to me most and I'm so grateful.

Art has been all that gets me out of bed some days. Because I know someone has requested something, or suggested a subject, or requested a commission. So I have to get up. For the art. For my friends who support my artistic endeavors. And it's been the most rewarding thing to be able to pour myself into that. it gets me through everything else.

So thank you for your support - in all of the many forms it has taken. You are, all of you, a gift.

May you all keep safe and well through these challenging times,

Mari / Infinitetango

The trouble is, you think you have time.

I've been sick for a few weeks (because the heat makes MS much worse) and feeling sorry for myself, if I'm completely honest. I was hating this year. Hating feeling sick. Thinking how could this year get any worse? It already seems almost biblical - murder hornets, locusts, COVID19, quarantine. Every year I think it can't get any worse than last year.

I'm going to stop saying that shit.

I lost my mom on Monday. My mom who taught me the high art of fan-girling with subscriptions to Fangoria and Creep Show. Who watched every scifi and horror movie, no matter how terrible (looking at you "Night of the Lepus" )

She, of the photographic memory of anything she'd ever read - not to mention movie lines, song lyrics. We could have entire, deeply philosophical conversations using nothing but movie dialogue.

She had been sick for years with a blood clot near her heart that could neither be moved nor shrank with meds. It just stayed there, waiting. Two weeks ago she started feeling much worse. We don't know if it was COVID 19 because she refused to go to the hospital. Too many friends, and her own sister, had gone in and not come out. She didn't want to be away from home, away from family. So she refused to go in. She died at home. As far as we can tell, her heart stopped. We don't know if COVID gave the clot the opportunity to move or if it was something else. And now we won't ever know. I'm angry and hurt, but I can't really blame her either.

It's not just that COVID19 is sickening and killing so many - it's that it's isolating us. We can't support each other, comfort each other, or now, grieve together. We're all at risk to and from each other. We mourn separately. Talking on the phone. Sharing our music playlists and pictures. This is an awful time.

I wasn't going to write about this - not here. But part of what has me so angry is the denial so many people have about COVID19 - about their own responsibility in limiting the risk to others so we can get past this - past this to a time when we can visit each other and hug each other. My socials are filled with people saying it's a hoax, or it's just the flu. I'm in Texas and it's like the whole state is saying "you can't tell me what to do!" And we're all paying the price.

If you're reading this, protect yourself and protect others. Keep the distance. Wear a mask. Take this seriously.

And remember the advice from Jack Kornfield’s Buddha’s Little Instruction Book - "The trouble is, you think you have time." We never have the time we think we have. We never know if the last thing we said to someone, is the last think we'll ever get to say to them. 

"Memory is an event horizon. What's caught in it is gone but it's always there." - sung by Breq, Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie.

So Many New Things in Dance and Music Art!

First a huge thank you to my readers and friends for helping me through a very rough year and for being so encouraging of my new endeavors. I don't know how I could have made it through without you. Here's a recap of what I've been able to put together in a remarkably short period of time, thanks to an amazing support system.

My dance and music artwork, as well as some decor designs, are now on 3 platforms!

Some of My Art Categories on RedBubble

Infinitetango on Redbubble:

Infinitetango on Society6:

and most recently, my Infinitetango for Milonga Essentials store on Zazzle:

I have tango quotes, funny "Milonga Cats" series, Iconic Tango Musicians Portrait series, and the newest Roaring Twenties La Guardia Nueva series to celebrate the new decade of the 20s!

Tango Quotes from Gavito, Zotto, Hector Mayoral and more!

Milonga Cats using the Cabeceo, Tango Portraits and Buenos Aires Art

The new Roaring Twenties - get your flapper persona on!

Looking ahead to 2020 - here's what's coming!

  • More tango designs in Spanish! I know I've been taking way too long with these, but I want to get them exactly right and not embarrass myself lol.
  • More Tango Icons portraits
  • More Tango and Dance Inspirational Quotes since those seem to have the most demand.
  • More Tango Music - specific artwork. Orchestras, bandoneons and bandoneonistas and some more images I've hoarded from my trip to Buenos Aires.
  • More Art Deco Tango, Dance and Music designs. Inspired by Parisian posters and Erte etc., really feeling the Roaring Twenties resurgence lately.