Save Esquina Tango, Austin's East-Side Cultural Gem.
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Esquina Tango has been an epicenter of Latinx and international culture in Austin's East Side for nearly 15 years, offering courses in dance, fitness, yoga, and language, serving as a community center and fostering social capital, bridging demographic diversity unlike any other place in Austin.
Pandemic Phase I: Weathering the storm
Esquina enabled our community to access culture, different perspectives on experiencing life, interpreted through the performing arts--until the pandemic forced its doors shut for seven months beginning in March 2020. But Monica, Gustavo, little Beto and Alma, and the whole Esquina community met the circumstances with innovative resilience, shifting instruction and performance online, foregoing fundraising to create income streams for performing instructors--all while maintaining the valuable connection that pandemic-weary Austinites had been starving for.
Pandemic Phase II: The Great Comeback
But Esquina didn't stop there. After seven months of careful analysis and thoughtful input and support from engineers, health experts, artists, performers, and everyone in between, at a time when so many other small businesses, music venues, studios, and performing arts spaces in Austin are gasping their final breaths, the Esquina family knew the show must go on...just safely.
The volunteer army of experts designed, architected and constructed a series of carefully dimensioned platforms and an outdoor stage to accommodate instruction and performance, blessing the community once again with the gift of art and movement, in a socially distant--and responsible way with a strict reservation system that assured adherence to guidelines while enjoying the intangibles that make Austin who we are.
So innovative was this design that Esquina caught the attention of multiple news networks, also recently being recognized in the Statesman for their innovative and safe approach to keeping culture, music, and movement alive in Austin, providing livelihood for instructors, performers, and musicians while giving life to participants and attendees.
Esquina has long been a darling of East Austin, known as one of the city's best-kept secrets, a place that can transport you in a time capsule to old Buenos Aires, where deeply emotional music belies the toughness of the singer's countenance, the same kind of toughness that has kept Esquina adapting and evolving: for crying out loud, Esquina found away to bring back tango dancing--and safely--during the pandemic!
The irony is that it's not the pandemic that threatens to kill Esquina. It's the bureaucracy:
We live in a lovely city of kind humans, and our well-intentioned City government and leaders are doing their best to save venues and small businesses--often the most salient elements of cultural preservation in Austin.
However, inflexible regulations and siloed departmental structures mean that Esquina Tango received a notice that they may no longer operate outdoors because of a technicality: although any resident can have music on speakers within volume parameters before 10pm (as Esquina carefully does), Esquina does not have the same privilege due to permitting idiosyncrasies.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION in solidarity with Esquina Tango as we ask:
We implore our city leaders to assist in finding the temporary crisis-time mechanisms of flexibility that will enable community connection and culture to prevail--and prevent Esquina--and all of its community-strengthening elements (the music, the culture, the income for performers, musicians, and instructors, the neighborhood unity and the social connection) from becoming an unforced casualty of the pandemic circumstances we're all facing together.
In addition to your signature of support, we also encourage you to please leave a note ("Reason for Signing") or testimonial below on this page expressing what Esquina means to you, your neighborhood, and your community.
And as always, please feel free to donate and support the hard work of the Esquina Team.
On behalf of the entire Esquina Tango Austin community, from our loving neighborhood to our beautiful city to all corners of the world,
Complete your signature
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