The Queer Tango Salon 2017 is happening in London next week – and Houston is there!

A BeInTango student Jace L. Valcore and my teaching partner Luis had a chance to share their experience about tango with others as a part of the upcoming Queer Tango Salon 2017 conference. In a pre-recorded audio interview, they discussed their feelings, ideas, challenges and approaches in solving them as a student/new member of the community and the teacher who is seeking the best way possible to welcome them. Their stories are personal, yet relatable to many, if not all. It clearly shows the importance of becoming vulnerable in order to help someone else become stronger.

We got a great opportunity to learn about the Queer Tango Salon Conference from its co-organizer, Ray Batchelor, his insight on tango development in Houston and beyond, and the importance of Jace and Luis’ talk particularly:

“Dancers who think and thinkers who dance” – this simple strapline more or less covers what this event is about.

Organized by three academics who dance (rather than dance academics), the London Queer Tango Salon 2017 follows the success of the one held in Paris last year, and brings together academics with expertise in the issues which queer tango touches on, and activists, dancers and teachers (the people academics sometimes call “non-academics”) who have invaluable insights gained from practice.

Co-organizer, Ray Batchelor says, “Academia can seem intimidating – but so can tango culture. We want both groups talk to one another, to listen, learn, and also dance with each other. Academics need to remember that they will be speaking to people who may not “know the literature”, and to listen respectfully to those who dance all the time, while activists and dancers need to be open to new ways of looking at what they may regard as ‘their dance’. Discussions can effect change – maybe improve things – but then, so can dance!”

This year, they have Mariana Docampo coming from Buenos Aires, a key figure in the global dissemination of queer tango, to talk about its tense relationship to Argentina and Argentinians; Professor Lisa Blackman from Goldsmiths University in London will be making an exploration of the idea that western philosophy might have come to radically different ideas if philosophers had thought through dancing queer tango, rather than just sitting at their desks, musing. By complete contrast, Federico Imperial from Paris, the guiding force behind the annual and very distinctively Parisian La Vie en Rose queer tango event will be appearing as “Dita LVR”, glamorous international spy and star of Aleksandr Vinogradov’s short film, From Russia with Queer Love.

Among the “papers”, Ray adds, “I would particularly like to thank Carrie Schneider from Houston, Texas, who, at incredibly short notice and against the backdrop of Hurricane Harvey, brought together tango dancer, Jace L. Valcore and their tango teacher, Luis Zuleta Benavides to produce a fascinating audio contribution, “Initiating, Marking and Language” for the Salon, reflecting on their personal experiences of this habitually gendered dance.”

Others papers include: “Where’s my mermaid trousers? A wardrobe for both roles”; “Embodied politics: Genderless Dance”; a review of a queer novel tracing a trans life in early 20th century Argentina, “Authentic by Choice or by Chance? The Gods of Tango (2015), by Carolina de Robertis”. And the dance research workshops – posing questions and using dance to try to arrive at answers – include: “The embodiment of femininity and masculinity through tango posture and attitudes”; “What can queer tango learn from intersectionality” and “

And every night for three nights, the Queer Tango “Salonistas” who come from around the world will go to mainstream London milongas at the express invitation of the hosts – and dance!”

We will have a chance to listen to their audio shortly after the conference. To learn more about the conference itself please follow the link: https://thequeertangosalon.com

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