Longform

Dirty Dancing

Page 6 of 7

And while the web has been burning up with discussions of the Gale situation, many tango enthusiasts would prefer to keep the story to themselves, for fear that any publicity will hurt the tango community. Some have even suggested that the women who are now complaining about Gale have ulterior motives, including competing businesses.

"If Chas has a problem, a more impartial court will decide it with the services of a court-ordered therapist," one woman wrote. "We do not need to dwell on this. It is out of our hands. Those who do not have professional and personal grievances against him will address it. Outside of that, I believe that Chas is a great friend, who has always treated me with the utmost respect, honesty, humility and most of all, good humor. I love the man and believe him to be like many of us, flawed, but wonderfully rich and worthwhile. I have and will continue to support him, Gaia and the Tango House."

"There seemed to be some people who were more vehement than others to see Chas somehow drawn and quartered," says Jeffrey Brenman, an attorney who's been president of Tango Colorado since January. He notes that during his five years on the board, no one ever filed a complaint about Gale. In fact, some of the highest turnouts at the Turnverein were for Tango Colorado lessons hosted by Gale, and he always received great reviews.

"People who hate Chas would love to close down the Tango House," says Nina Pesocinsky, a longtime tango dancer who remembers the days when they had to dance in warehouses and people's homes. "I have this vision of them taking it apart brick by brick. But these are the same people who have never seen this community without a venue for tango. They come in and take it for granted."

But nothing's being taken for granted on the Tango Colorado message board. Some dancers don't want any Tango House events mentioned there or promoted at events sponsored by Tango Colorado, since Gale is still dancing at the Tango House and available for lessons. "He's a criminal, and if you want to dance with the devil, that is your own business," Angela says. "But to use Tango Colorado as a means to promote and support the Tango House is a direct conduit, for new people in our community who are unaware, straight to the perpetrator, the predator."

Brenman, however, says that banning any mention of the Tango House would be unfair to Gaia, who is now the business's registered agent — although Gale is still listed in city records as the property's owner. "We're walking a difficult line," Brenman says. "We're trying to be fair, we're not trying to destroy the Tango House; it's not our agenda to do so. We've done what we had to do, and we've bent over backwards to not do what we don't have to do."

Tango Colorado is now revising its code of conduct for teachers.

"When you have a teacher crossing the line, it's different than just another dancer making a pass," says Lucy. "If this was just another person in the dance community who tried to touch me, I wouldn't be upset, but he calls himself a teacher. In tango, it's close, it's intimate. You have to trust the teacher like you do a doctor."

And not only did Gale abuse her trust, but others in the community have failed to support her and the other women who've complained about Gale's behavior. "Once again, I'm being the black sheep because I speak up," she says. "People think it's no big deal, but it is a big deal when it's a teacher. Men behave differently. Sometimes they flirt, but you know where your line is when you dance. When you are a teacher, it is a completely different circumstance. You trust the teacher to hold you and to dance with you."

Angela knows why she didn't speak up sooner, and louder — her therapist has told her that victims often don't speak up — but she wonders why other men in the community stayed silent. "How is it that we have a group of people who are choosing to dance very intimately, who consider themselves a family, and were able to hold on to this deep, dark secret for so many years?" she wonders. "It's a contradiction. Why is it that they didn't come forward and beat the shit out of Chas when they saw him do these things?"

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Luke Turf