5 years ago, I went back to school to study physical theatre.
It was a part-time course, which meant I could still work while studying, but suddenly my monthly income dramatically decreased. It was uncomfortable, but at least I learnt to do with less, which is always a good skill to have.
I also started to be much more aware of the cost of dance classes, and the cost of dancing in general. I developed a radar for ‘budget-dancing’.
Tango is democratic, and tango teachers and milonga organisers try to make sure it remains so… but for dancers, classes, milongas, festival, fancy shoes.. can add up…
And it can be difficult to keep up with the tango world.
Dancing is too important! Money can’t be the reason why you stop going to classes and milongas…. So, if you are short on cash, but still want to enjoy the tango world, here are a few things you can do…
1. Find discounts for group classes
Does your favorite tango school have a ‘loyalty’ card? Check out the reward systems at your tango school. For example, we offer a free class after 10 classes with us. Also, if you are a student, some schools offer student discounts (again, we do here).
2. Share private classes
You can have all the benefits of a private class at half the cost by teaming up with a partner you like dancing with. Usually private lessons are slightly more expensive for a couple than for one person, but it still works out cheaper for each student. The added bonus is that you share something fun with someone you like hanging out with.
3. Find private classes’ package deals
Also, if you know that you want to take more than one private lessons with a teacher, check-out package deals. Tango teachers usually offer a discount if you pay upfront for a series of private lessons. You’ll need to see how long you can take the classes for (sometimes it is 3 months after purchase, sometimes 5, so you don’t miss out on your pre-paid classes)
4. Keep up with your individual practice
If you want to improve your dancing, we can’t emphasize enough the power of practicing individual exercises at home. The added bonus is that it’s free! And you can do it whenever you like. From walking, to strengthening your core muscles, to improving your dissociation…. there are plenty of exercises you can do at home. Ask your teacher to show you what they would recommend. For a high quality resource with plenty of exercises to pick from, you can check out our online course Tango Core.
5. Listen to Music
Listen to a lot of music. The cheapest way to improve your tango is also the nicest! To dance well, you need to know the music very well. So, listen to a lot of tango songs. This is an advice that is often given to leaders, but we can’t stress enough the importance of listening to music for followers too.
6. Find good free/donation-based milongas
In some cities, there are plenty of free/donations-based milonga. They are often outdoors – for example the Quais de Seine in Paris. There is one thing to be aware of, though: tango is much softer on the knees when you dance on floorboards, so stop if you start feeling pain in your knees. Also, make sure you give a little donation to the organisers at the end.
7. Offer to help-out in milongas
If there are milongas that you love in your local area, you can talk to the organisers, and see if they need extra help in exchange for free admission. They usually need people to help with setting-up and tidying-up afterwards. Most tango teachers and milonga organisers are very generous with this but tango is not an industry with a lot of money, so respect your end of the deal.
8. Attend the classes before the milongas
Choosing classes that are just before the milongas can be a very good deal. Usually, if you decide to attend both the class and the milonga, the price you pay for the class is very cheap. In some cases, it is even the same price to attend the class and the milonga, than the milonga only (e.g. in the entrance for our saturday milonga, the intermediate class is included – and we have amazing teachers). Plus, if you don’t know a lot of people, you get to meet people in the class, which makes inviting afterwards easier.
9. Check if you can assist a teacher
If your level is good, you can offer to assist a teacher who teaches without a partner. That way, you get to dance and learn from their teaching. This will usually involve showing with him/her during the class, and maybe helping out individual students in their practice. Make sure you are nice and polite, and do not interfere with the class until you are invited you to do so.
10. Help-out in festivals
If there is a festival in your local area, you can bet that the organiser will welcome an extra pair of hands. So don’t hesitate to go and offer your help in exchange for free admission. What is usually needed is: help setting-up and tidying-up, welcoming people in the entrance, helping at the bar, picking-up and dropping the visiting teachers/performers to the different venues, and, if your place is big enough, offering accomodation for them. Added bonus: you meet plenty of cool people.
-> Shoes & Dressing-up
It is important to invest in a good pair of Tango shoes – yet they can be a dent in a budget. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get beautiful shoes at a discount.
11. Ask about your school’s loyalty card discounts
First, check out the discounts your school offer; For example, we have a 20% discount on Madame Pivot shoes with our loyalty card. The card is free, and you get the discount (+ an extra free class) after attending 10 classes. Your local school might have similar deals for you.
12. Find good-quality second-hand shoes
There are plenty of good-quality, barely-used shoes, available for grabs. Sometimes we buy a pair, then realise it is absolutely not a good fit for our feet. So you can easily find second-hand shoes that are almost brand-new.
The first thing to do is ask the teachers/milonga organisers: they often know people who have shoes to sell and will hook you up with them.
If you happen to be in Paris, you can check out Le Vide Dressing du Tango, a facebook group where people sell second-hand clothes and shoes. There are usually good-quality items available at a fraction of the price. You can also decide to create a similar page for your local community (if you do, let us know in the comments section, and we’ll update the article).
13. Get them from Buenos Aires
Finally, you can go the Buenos Aires route. Even though BsAs is now much more expensive than a few years ago, it still works out cheaper to get your clothes there than in some countries. You can ask a friend who is travelling to get you some. Make sure you both agree on the brands before they leave.
We hope that these tips help you keep your passion for dancing alive! If you have any more tips to share about the big-tango-love/little-cash-paradox, let us know in the comments section.
We look forward to hearing your ideas,