Have you too been glued to your phone all weekend avidly reading news about the Brexit? Trying to make sense of what our daily life will be after this political earthquake? We have spent the past few days trying to figure out what the Brexit will mean for Tango in the UK: will there be less people dancing? Less tango teachers? Will we have less milongas? Will the quality of our dancing be impacted?
Have you too been glued to your phone all weekend avidly reading news about the Brexit?
Trying to make sense of what our daily life will be after this political earthquake?
We have spent the past few days trying to figure out what the Brexit will mean for Tango in the UK: will there be less people dancing? Less tango teachers? Will we have less milongas? Will the quality of our dancing be impacted?
If you’ve been so Brexit-obsessed that you forgot to go to your favorite milonga, read on…
It is hard to draw definite answers today, as little has been decided yet. But still, we can get a sense of what our Tango community with or without some of its EU citizens might be…. So, at a times of uncertainty, here are our first conclusions on how our Tango scene could be impacted.
Before we start, we want to say that even though we sided with the Remain side, we respect all points of view. We love the openness of the country that welcomes us. We know that the referendum vote was about more than ethnic divisions. Plus, we’re idealistic and believe that tango is a welcoming world where all political views meet in one big embrace.
But hey, it doesn’t mean we can’t try to figure out what happens next!
Will there be less people dancing Tango after the Brexit?
The London tango scene is blessed with dancers from all over the world. It seems, though, that the majority of foreign dancers in the UK are EU citizens – from Italy, Portugal, France, Poland…. There are no stats, obviously. Yet, when we think back about our classes and milongas, we get a sense that over half of the London tango scene overall is made up of EU citizens. This should come as no surprise: Tango is quite close to the cultures of continental Europe.
So, will half of our fellow dancers leave the EU?
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was very clear: EU citizens currently working and living in London will not be kicked out. So, the number of dancers will not decrease dramatically overnight. Furthermore, it seems likely that the UK strikes a deal with the EU in which citizens of both parties can live and work across Europe relatively freely.
It doesn’t mean that our tango community won’t be affected, though:
A lot of the people who join us in tango classes and milongas are part of a “rotation” of dancers. These are people who come to the UK for a short time only. They join our tango scene in the hope of finding a welcoming community while they are here. They are university graduates who study for a master’s degree, young professionals on short-term contracts, tourism workers who take 6 months off to improve their English…. They bring to our classes and milongas a lot of energy and a desire to meet and learn.
We don’t know yet what the new immigration rules will be. However, if they make it harder for EU citizens to stay in the UK without a long-term project, we believe that our milongas will feel the loss of these people.
Will there be less tango teachers?
If you’re attending tango lessons in London today, there’s a 60% chance that your teacher (or one half of the teaching couple) lives here with a EU passport. (This is a stat we are sure of, we did the math…). Tango-fact: most Argentine teachers living in the UK hold an Italian or Spanish passport (for more on why, see European people’s massive immigration to Argentina at the turn of the past century).
Again, it’s unlikely that they get kicked out.
However, if it becomes harder for EU-passport holders to work and live in the UK… Then yes, there will probably be less tango teachers in London.
Because let’s face it, when you work with tango, you’re not in it for the money. So there is a big chance that the current or future tango teachers can’t meet the requirements for a UK working permit if they ever need one.
Will there be less milongas?
The same situation for the teachers applies for milonga organisers – in even more dramatic numbers, it seems. Apart from a few exceptions, milongas here tend to be organised by tangueros from Argentina or the rest of South America….who have a EU passport. So, if the immigration rules get more complicated, the number of milongas might decrease.
But again, the milonga organisers currently living here are likely to stay. So for now, we’re ok 🙂
Will the “quality” of our dancing overall be affected?
What do we mean by “quality? The level of dancing overall, the excitement of world-class visiting teachers, the variety of DJs who share their love of music with us, the embraces of visiting dancers, the festivals we can attend close from home….
Today, the UK is not in the Shengen area. So for people visiting on the short-term (teachers, DJs, Dancers), nothing should change, right?
Let’s start with the visiting teachers. Most of the time, they are from Argentina or South America. They come to the UK during a tour of Europe. Will the Brexit make it more difficult for them to come?
Currently, there are three ways teachers and performers can come to the UK:
- They have a European passport and can work legally all across Europe. Thus, they often plan a stop-over in the UK. So, if the Brexit still allows EU passport holders to work in the UK, nothing will change. If the regulations become tighter, they are much less likely to come visit us and will probably focus on continental Europe.
- They apply for a working visa. With a change of regulations, they’d have to apply for two: one for Europe, one for the UK. If it is too much of a hassle to apply for two work visas, they’d have to decide which region they would rather work in (Europe or UK).
- They come on a tourist visa and work even though they are legally not allowed to. You know… I guess that’s what they’ll do…
What about the visiting DJs? Isn’t it lovely when milonga organisers fly over a DJ from Berlin or Ibiza? Thus we can discover the music that they love?!
So again, they’d have to apply for a work visa – or won’t…
What about tangueros visiting us?
The great news is this should not be impacted. People will still come and visit, Brexit or no Brexit, and we’ll still get to feel warm foreign embraces.
Brexit or no Brexit, Tango in london is here to stay! However, our Tango scene will probably evolve: a lot depends on what the new legal relationship between the UK and the EU is. We know we will keep dancing. But we hope that we don’t lose the energy and invigorating freshness brought by people who come to “visit us” for a few days, a few months, or a few years….
Now that’s our view with the little we know so far…. we’d love to hear from you if you’d like to add to the debate. Respectfully, obviously, this is just a tango blog 🙂
See you soon on the dance floor for warm, multicultural tango hugs!
Pablo and Anne