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Background on the Tango World COVID Survey project

Beginning in March, we (Korey, Mitra and Meredith) started having Zoom conversations to explore how we could support one another and the tango community. Doing a small research project was one of many ideas that emerged. 

Initially intended to be a brief 3-5 question survey, the scope grew as we realized what an unusual moment in tango history this was and how much there was to learn. We wanted to learn from pros as well as non-professionals. We wanted to make the survey accessible to those who speak Spanish. We identified a survey platform that allowed skip logic and translations. 

We launched the survey on May 21st 2020 and kept it open for 2 weeks until June 7th 2020. We promoted awareness via email and social media. 

About the survey process: 

The response to the survey was absolutely staggering. The community enthusiastically spread the word with scores of shares. We received over 2000 responses. 

In the process of working with this material, we have already learned a great deal: 

  • A LOT of data is generated when two thousand people reply to open-ended questions or fill in their answers to the “Other” category. To be honest, we weren’t prepared for the landslide of data we received!

  • Protecting each survey participant’s anonymity requires thoughtful agreements. This was very important to us, as we expanded the research team, so we needed to put some effort into creating data confidentiality agreements appropriate to the project. 

  • We made some screw-ups in the survey design! We’re grateful for the feedback, and want to acknowledge how much we celebrate dancers who dance both roles; DJs; volunteers — and in general how special it is that so many tango dancers play so many different roles within the world of tango. We will strive to be more inclusive in our next research. Thank you for sharing your frustrations and for your patience with our learning process. 

  • There is so much to learn here and we intend to steward the gift of all this data with great care so that the world tango community can derive as much value out of it as possible. In particular, we see that this data has potential to help foster a broader understanding of the importance and transformative power of the tango modality. 

The makeup of the survey participants 

We were glad to see that participation was relatively diverse. Here is a report of the makeup of the survey participants [graphic below]. You’ll notice that we heard the voices of people of a wide range of different levels of tango experience, as well as from many different-sized communities. Although we received many more responses from North America than other regions, we were able to sample a relatively geographically diverse group, with representation from communities literally all over the world. Our hard work to translate the survey and reach out to contacts in Argentina paid off, as we received solid and statistically useful responses. 

We learned about the range of roles members of the tango community play: aspiring instigators; dance therapists; vinyls DJs; coaches using tango for professional development, tango artist management services providers, and a puppet of the tango gods — something I believe many of us can relate to. 

Unfortunately we didn’t include questions about racial/ethnic identity, which was a big mistake because this data would have helped us understand both the makeup/diversity of the community, and the differential impacts of COVID on tango dancers of color. We have begun developing a survey to study the question of race and tango and hope to secure resources for future research projects like this.  

What’s next: 

  • We will share insights from our preliminary analysis August-September 2020.

  • We are still in the process of discovering how an asynchronous team of research professionals can best collaborate on the analysis and synthesis of large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data.

  • We believe creating a “tango think tank” like this would lead to many benefits for our world community, but creating it is non-trivial and will likely require funding. We would like to carry out future surveys on race and tango, sexual harms and tango, and strategic messaging for new tango dancer acquisition. 

charts outlining survey participants

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