Guide for promoting Tango
  I wrote this text originally to a discussion group.

From: Eero Olli
Sent: 21. april 2005 11:24
To: 'Discussion of Any Aspect of the Argentine Tango'
Subject: RE: Promotion of tango in general

> Aron wrote
> I am looking for good practices in the promotion of tango. I
> am merely hoping that countries with more experience with
> capitalism have already = been involved in such a campaign.

Hi Aron,

There is much that can be done.

The offical approach would be
A) What is the purpose of the promotion.
B) Define an audience
C) Define the message you want to convey (keep it simple).
D) Increase visibility for you message in the right audience.

To start with, I would say that be conscious about marketing, but do not spend much time and energy on it. It is more important to have a good product (a great club with nice people). Build continuity in marketing your regular work. One campaing will not achieve much. Think about rather as community building - show glimpses of this great community you have - and people will want to join.

High visibility for a bad product is bad publicity. If you have a campaign, you need to channel the created interest into something.

We have marketed DANCING not show. Thus what matters is that the people dancing are enjoying themselves, and not afraid to show it. We do not pretend we are professional dancers. And frankly, I think that too much show-dancing will just scare people off. It is not what people want to DO. We show them things they could do THEMSELVES.

Our campaigns have been basically of two different types. These are examples from things we have been doing over several years.


We have arranged 3 large festivals and one mediums sized one. We used a concert hall with 1400 seats, and we have a community of perhaps 200 dancers. Thus we needed to make sure that there would be 1000 non-dancers coming. The storylines were that tango is an exiting dance, and some of worlds best dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires/Paris/etc are coming to town. We feed the local and national media with stories and pictures of our artists over a 6 month period. You can get quite many stories out of an large event if you market - the decision to have an event, the orchestras, CDs, dancers, shows... Use the least publishable unit approach. Do not give everything away at once.

Locally, we made sure that we were visible at the right places. We had several performance gigs:

first, one choreographed piece, almost like a 30 min theatre piece, that we performed perhaps 10-15 times in town and nearby during the months before the festival, (with press coverage). We had lots of fun making it, and many people saw it. If this piece is good enough, you can actually sell it to the crowd, or companies who need some entertainment to their dinner parties. For dinner entertainment, a 15 minute piece, with only few people is better.

Second, outdoor milonga gigs. We would send a group of 3-10 couples just dancing (no show) on different venues. We would bring our own sound equipment and a roll of vinyl to dance on. This could happen at a few plazas downtown with lots of people during nice weather. These are important, because it is very easy to come in contact with people watching us.

Third, our shopping-mal gigs. We did get shopping malls to pay for us to dance in the malls. One to three couples would dance a 10 minute session (mix of show and regular dancing) perhaps 4 times during 2 hours. Really horrible, but lots of people would see us!.

Forth, our guerilla dancing gigs. We just love to dance. Go to a museum, they have great stone floors. Dance without any music, or if you know the people ask if you can play some music. At concerts dance hot tango to hot music. The whole idea is to dance tango at places where people do not expect it! Show that you love to dance, and the people who love to dance will come to you.

We tried to have a separate group that has the responsibility of these gigs (making arrangements, finding venues, getting dancers there etc). In otherwords, separate from arranging the festival, regular classes and milongas

Obviously, you need flyers. ALWAYS! At every milonga, there should be flyers lying at the door telling where people can find more information. In addition, you want to pass out flyers during some of these gigs to people who are watching. Never give a flyer to a person who does not stop to watch. Talk to everyone who gets a flyer - "hi, there will be a world-class show in September. We have beginners classes once a month. Hope to see you there!" One way or other, the people who see something interesting must know that they are welcome, what is offered, and where to look for more information.

We have also had good success with business card size flyers. Only information printed is the name of the club, milongas at Tuesday and Sunday. Beginners classes every month. A phone number and web-page address. Let MANY people carry these in their wallets.

A web page is a must. Make sure that it is always updated and correct. No excuses.

We have used very little posters, and only at places where you are allowed to post. These are put up by our members, often at work-places. Never any glued/taped stuff outdoors, because many people react negatively to posters. It looks shabby and does not fit well with the image of 'sophisticated' dance.

Send cool free CDs to local radio DJs. Local radios have often long 'talk shows' - they do always need people they can talk with. Find a cool story/angle, and let them know you are willing to tell about your burning passion - tango. Ask if you can bring a CD or two with you.

Make sure that people can by tango in the local record store. (it can be best to pick one record store - help them to order the good stuff, and make sure that everybody knows which store in town it is).

Make sure that the newspaper has a review of CDs by the bands that are coming.

Find places where they play music publicly and give them a good tango record.

Forget about paid advertisement in newspapers (unless you get the paper to sponsor your festival). But make sure that your milonga is included in the 'hot stuff happening in town this week' section.


Sometimes one wants to target a particular group of people. We have done this when we have seen that we need more young people into our milongas. We try to target one group - for example university students. Be visible at the university a few times during the month before a beginners class. Market at one place only. We suspect that more of the people will stay, if the group has people who know each other and can relate to each other. Next month we could choose a different target group. In general however, we have not marketed our classes for a particular group, only when we wanted to create a better balance.

We have had guerilla gigs at places where we new some important business people would be, because we wanted to few months later to get their company to sponsor the festival (=buy many seats to the shows).

Offer dance classes for companies. It is a nice perk to give for employers.

Make a gift certificate for a dance classes. A great gift for anyone! You can give them around for your business associates as a Christmas gift (which does not cost you anything, if the classes are not fully booked). There are always some people, whose cooperation and goodwill has been important during the last year (restaurant owners, the waiters, club-owners, etc). If they know how to dance....

I hope that some of these experiences, can be used to create interest around tango.


I have previously been involved in a tango club in Bergen, Norway

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