Wow, what a mix of reactions when we announced that our monthly pass would be donation-based. Some of our members felt inspired and enthusiastic, and many felt confused and concerned.
It is too early to tell if this experiment is going to be a permanent feature of Oxygen Tango, because we need more months to see how it affects the community's numbers.
In the meantime, four things stand out to me as wonderful facets of the donation-based model:
1. Flexible prices foster the diversity that fuels inspiring Tango
A “pay what you choose” approach welcomes the grand diversity of people from all life-stages, socioeconomic levels, backgrounds, and levels of Tango experience that creates a rich and vibrant community learning experience.
It embraces all the people who can benefit from and contribute to a joyful community: from grad students to retired people; artists, engineers, and entrepreneurs; doctors and healers; people with all kinds of backgrounds and capacities; people in transition or stability; people who may be your next surprise best friend, mentor, life-partner, Tango travel companion.
2. The freedom to choose what you want to give supports everyone's individual autonomy
When prices, and rules relating to those prices, are set by the organization, people sometimes feel anxious, protective, defensive. A pay-what-you-choose model reinforces your own strength, power, freedom, and ability to set your own meaningful boundaries and be generous within them - all very essential Tango principles!
We love that a donation-based community expresses the truth that YOUR being and presence is what creates this place; give what you wish, and make it what you want.
3. Community is sacred and priceless; fixed prices don’t fit with its nature
When you join Oxygen, you are joining a whole network of new and potential relationships. Friends, peers, people who inspire and enrich your life - AND, and opportunity to turn around an enrich theirs. In community giving is receiving.
The priceless experience you can enjoy here is sustained by the enthusiastic, persistent giving of countless invaluable unseen gifts and donations. Experienced dancers who help beginning dancers. Volunteers who create amazing events, help you find what you're looking for, make information flow smoother and easier, donate home-baked cookies and bottles of wine. Anonymous donors who offer guidance, financial and physical resources.
Instead of “charging” a fixed price for access to this - which feels weirdly antithetical to its nature - we are seeking to create a culture where those who benefit and have been enriched are inspired to give what they can to enable the experience to survive and thrive.
4. We want everyone to passionately pursue their unique interests and still be able to afford a Tango home base
Tango can get expensive! Not only do instruction and social dancing events cost money, but there is also the cost of shoes and attire as well as more hidden costs like transportation, travel, meals with Tango friends.
And when you really are inspired you’ll want to take advantage of all the learning resources all around you - private lessons, courses and challenges, festivals and marathons, guest teachers, and all that jazz.
When you passionately pursue your own interests, this fuels the whole Tango ecosystem! We WANT you to have enough dollars to take that next step: training with any of us here at Oxygen or with the other wonderful teachers who live in or visit LA or at the awesome events all over the region and country!
And we think you should be able to afford doing ALL of that while still having a friendly and familiar Tango home with great music and loving supportive faces where you can come practice what you're working on and maybe even enjoy paying it forward a bit too. If we decide to believe we can have it all, maybe we can create a future in which that’s possible.
So those are the four things I love about donation-based Tango so far!