(Originally published on Facebook in January, 2017)
I have taught Argentine tango professionally in Korea since 2008. I am writing this for all women who are interested in learning tango.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault do occur in social dance communities. Often it is the male teachers who perpetrate these crimes against female students, in particular against beginners.
I hope that you can learn tango safely. Here are some signs that should alert you.
1) If in a class the male teacher pays a lot more attention to you than to other students.
2) If a male teacher tries to contact you privately, for example sending personal text messages only to you but not the other students.
3) If a male teacher tries to meet with you one on one in a private space. He may use teaching you a private class or asking you to help run his dance club as an excuse.
4) If a male teacher offers to perform with you or to teach with you, but you are still a beginner and your dance levels are obviously very different.
5) If a male teacher uses tango as an excuse for sexual body contact. For example, “tango is an intimate dance; in order to learn tango you need to be physically intimate with me first.” This kind of statements are outright lies. In tango there is more physical contact than other social dances, but it is always done in a respectful and mutually-agreed upon manner. Do not accept any unwanted physical or sexual contact from someone in the name of tango.
(1) through (4) are not necessarily inappropriate. They may be done with good intentions. But they are also common ways of how dance teachers abuse their position to take advantage of students. So if they are happening please take steps to protect yourself. (5) is for sure wrong and you should stop learning from this teacher immediately and take any other action you see fit.
I want to emphasize that it is not the female students’ fault that these crimes happen; the perpetrators are solely responsible for their crime. It is unfair and unfortunate that you have to worry about this problem and spend energy to protect yourselves.
Please feel free to share this notice if you want.
January 31, 2017