Chop Wood Carry Water

“Before Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood, carry water” – Zen proverb

Years ago, my friend Mitra Martin asked me before starting the Oxygen Tango School with her partner and another dear friend, Stefan, what I thought were some ways to earn a living in the world of tango.

Over time I had seen the usual businesses – teaching, DJ’ng, merchandising, organizing or some combo of these. Now I realize that there are many more opportunities that people aren’t seizing. Here are just some..

Social media manager – this was a field that didn’t even exist ’til a few years ago, but a real opportunity these days. Teachers and organizers are busy with classes and running events. So who has time to handle all the Facebook posts, Twitters and never mind, online reputation work! Check out how my friend Kate Buck went from broke and unemployed dance teacher to full-time social media manager.

Catering / craft services – a full dancer is a happy dancer.. food is just as integral a part of dance events as the music; yet, only a few organizers “get” this.. plus, you can’t beat the ROI (Return on Investment) dollar for dollar of goodwill earned for each grape or piece of cheese your dancers enjoy. The best events I’ve attended involved a communal meal prepared together with the other dancers.

Producer / marketing manager – some folks have been doing this informally for some time. Basically, visiting teachers need eyes on the ground – someone who can help them promote their workshops and coordinate a lot of the other pieces well before they’re wheels on deck. This may take the form of flyers, announcements (both online and off-line), and logistics like booking studios. For the most part it’s a thankless job, but if handled well, everyone wins.

Travel planner / concierge – one thing travel dancers LOVE to do is travel. So there’s a real opportunity for someone who understands their needs and can maybe even design packages to fit budgets and get the most bang for the buck! Striking up deals with cruises or hotels around festivals is definitely a win-win for both traveler and businesses.

Room & board – maybe the most obvious need is where to stay after a late night of dancing. Some folks simply offer up their homes, while others rent out rooms. The rise of some sites like AirBnB offer some nice new options offering eBay facilitation with Amazon marketing.

These are some of the opportunities that I see as wide open today. Know of any others or maybe other needs that are going unfulfilled? Share them below. I’ll be sure to let readers know which ones I see as the most creative or original!