About eight years ago, I went on a camping trip to Yosemite National Park with a friend who worked as a software engineer at Google. (In San Francisco, it’s hard to throw a rock without hitting a software engineer.) Malcolm and I first met because Malcolm came to every single one of the Quirkyalone Day parties I threw in San Francisco between 2003 and 2013. Quirkyalone Day is a holiday I created to be inclusive of single people and celebrate all forms of love. Malcolm was pretty special to come to every single one.
We were speeding along through the mountains in our friend Rik’s car toward the jumping-off point for an intense hike, and Malcolm told me that someone had asked him about me, and he hadn’t known how to describe me. “I didn’t know what to say,” he said. “You exist beyond categories.”
At the time I felt insulted. How could he not know how to describe me? Shouldn’t there be a label for who I am? The idea of existing beyond categories produced anxiety in me. What would I call myself at a cocktail party or on a business card? Would I be poor if no one could recognize me?
(This camping trip came a month before I was about to quit a conventional, well-paid job in order to re-pursue my more natural unconventional existence–the one I had already lived between 27 and 33–so I was feeling especially nervous.)
In the years since I have come to accept and even celebrate that I exist among a small number of people in the world we live outside of labels. Mostly, people who are like me are writers, coaches, guides and community builders in the service of something larger. Usually the empowerment of women.
If you want labels, I am:
WRITER * AUTHOR * HOLIDAY CREATOR * COACH WHOSE CLIENTS OFTEN CALL HER THEIR THERAPIST * TANGO TEACHER *
I am interested in a lot of things that feminists and spiritual people are interested in but I would be embarrassed to call myself an advocate of the divine feminine. However, a lot of my work these days is about the divine feminine. These days I am all about something I picked up here in Argentina: ensenaje, which is the combination of teaching and learning, or the idea that we learn when we teach. What I teach you is how to trust yourself and be confident as a woman in bold choices, whether you are single or partnered. Quirkyalone or quirkytogether.
Hey, thanks for visiting my site!
I’m a writer, a life coach for women, and a transformative tango teacher living in Buenos Aires helping my clients here and via Skype worldwide. I’m also a tango guide and teacher who helps women reconnect with their confidence and sensuality through tango.
In my books I look at taboo topics we rarely speak about. . through writing about the deeply personal and mixing the personal with the sociological and cultural. My readers tell me they have a “Thank god it’s not just me” reaction to my work. In addition to writing books, I write personal essays. My essays have appeared in Vice, Wired, the Village Voice, Utne, San Francisco Chronicle, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, and many more.
Quirkyalone: It’s about self-love and being true to yourself, not being alone, actually
I’m most well-known for starting the quirkyalone movement back in 2000, which is all about recognizing our ability to create happiness whether we are single or coupled. As the New York Times puts it in 2016, “The single state itself is also now aspirational, with boosters like Sasha Cagen, the author behind the Quirkyalone blog and book.”
A lot of people get confused and think I’m just about supporting single people. That’s not it at all. I support you to be quirky and true to yourself. And to be “quirkytogether” too. And even to marry yourself if you feel called to do so! Self-marriage is not about being single–it’s about honoring yourself.
Here’s a video where you can see me chat with Anderson Cooper about quirkyalone back when my cult book Quirkyalone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics first came out.
To-do lists, and what they reveal about us
My second book is To-Do List: From Buying Milk to Finding a Soulmate, What Iur Lists Reveal About Us which was a follow-up to my popular magazine To-Do List.
Here you can see me give a talk at Google about some of my original research on our to-do lists and what they reveal about us.
My coaching (wet and quirkyalone with a dash of to-do lists)
I work with amazing women to help them stay true to themselves and lead turned-on lives. I work with my clients remotely via Skype, so my clients live all over the world.
Here’s a video where I talk about how I help my coaching clients.
I’m a proponent of self-marriage, not as a barrier to relationship or a commitment to celibacy (no, not at all!) but as a way to honor and commit to yourself through vows. I’ve been interviewed in many media about self-marriage since I was one of the first to popularize the concept in Quirkyalone.
. . . women who decide to take their own hand in marriage aren’t necessarily rejecting traditional family structures; in fact, many of the women interviewed for the Cosmopolitan piece said they hope to find a life partner in the future.
The self-marriage lot are, however, pushing back against the stigmatization of single women by proclaiming their independent lives as something worth celebrating. “Marrying yourself is a way to commit to your dreams,” said Sasha Cagen, a women’s empowerment coach who got married to herself three years ago. “It helps you go for the life you want if your life hasn’t fulfilled the storybook requirements.”–the New York Times, Women in the World, December 25, 2016
Tango: More than a dance, a way to heal and find yourself
I’ve been obsessed with tango since I discovered the dance on my “life churn” solo travel through South America. I actually discovered tango in Cali, the world capital of salsa. SInce then I have written about tango extensively and since 2014, I have taught a 7-Day Transformative Tango Holiday in Buenos Aires called the Tango Adventure.
Here’s a video inviting to you to learn tango with me in Buenos Aires. What if you could discover yourself through dancing?
When I was just beginning tango, I did something absurdly audacious. I gave a show in the place where I first ssaw tango, La Matraca, in Cali, Colombia, after only dancing for six weeks. You can see that show here.
And here’s me dancing in Buenos Aires in 2015 exploring “active” following from the traditionally female follow position.
I’m now at work on a memoir that’s tentatively titled Wet. Wet is a memoir, and on a literal level, it’s about a woman in her thirties who had literally dried up, sexually and soul-wise, working in Silicon Valley trying to regain her sexuality (wetness) and aliveness by going to Brazil, a country of sensual and alive people, and finding not only cultural blocks but internal blocks to feeling worthy of love, happiness until she finds the key to her healing by finding the courage to face the darkness in her past. That healing comes via undersanding herself through her posture in tango, the most intimate partner dance.
(This is all about me, of course, but I’m describing the narrator.) A universal, abstract question short enough to fit on a Post-it Note from this book: How do we heal from damaging incidents in the past? It’s also about, how do we heal and let go of shame to move forward?
This is a podcast conversation I did about WET with the ladies at “Fuck Dating”–listen to this to get a sense of what I mean by “Wet” vs. “juicy” and also some of the deep themes of boundaries, self-respect, shame and self-love I’m exploring in this book.
Some kind words from readers, students, and clients
“Finding the Quirkyalone book by accident was a miracle for me.”—Jodi Gillitzer, Wisconsin
“The top thing I learned by working with Sasha is to value sex. I’m having the best sex of my life.”–Jeannette, 46, UK
“Taking the shame out of being single is a gift you have given our culture.”—Martha, 39
“I like the uplifting, positive, adventurous, creative feeling of Quirkyalone.”—Erica
“Sasha has a gift for naming the shit that comes between me and getting the hell out there.”—Jenny
“Reading your blog, I felt such a relief – I’m definitely not crazy, and there’s more of us out here than I ever knew.”–Melissa
Sasha Cagen is up to something that could be as important for women (and men) as The Feminine Mystique was years ago: We aren’t just halves of couples; we are distinct individuals—as complete and potentially happy alone as we are with our families and lovers.”–Barbara Ehrenreich, veteran muckraker and author best known for Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
Sasha Cagen is something of a hero for the growing ranks of singletons who are learning to feel secure with their status, and she is often their public face. She appears frequently on popular national television and radio programs to explain that going solo is a viable, legitimate, and not necessarily lonely way to dwell in a city—a point that is surprisingly controversial given how many people are already living alone.”–Eric Klinenberg, professor of sociology at NYU and author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone and co-author of Modern Romance with Aziz Ansari
Homeown: Cranston (Creeaaaanston), RI
Education: Amherst College, Columbia University, CTI (Coach Training Institute), and thousands of tango classes
Origin of name: Sasha is a Russian nickname for Alexandra. I’m named for a Ukrainian great-grandmother.
Words clients use to describe Sasha: adventurous, wise, willing to be vulnerable in her work, highly intuitive, funny, and articulate
BBC World Service’s “Why Factor”: Why do we make lists?
Diario Critica de Argentina: “Solo y Sin Apuros” Fascinating magazine article on Buenos Aires quirkyalones
London Guardian: Are you a single or a quirkyalone?
The London Independent: Note to self: The therapeutic effects of reading other people’s to-do list
New York Times: The Quirky Habits of Solo Dwellers
NPR: Talking about spinsters, old maids, and how our ideas about being single have changed on this Quirkyalone Day 2013.. (A commenter called this show insightful and therapeutic and I agree.)
NPR’s Talk of the Nation: What Does Your To-Do List Say About You?
NPR’s All Things Considered: Talking about New Year’s resolutions and to-do lists
Self magazine: More and more women are marrying themselves, here’s why
USA TODAY: interview when my book Quirkyalone had just come out
Wall Street Journal: “Conquering the To-Do List”
Vice: Women Who Married Themselves Talk About How It Feels
Want to get in touch?
Want to work with me as a client, come to Buenos Aires to learn tango with me, or just want to say hi?
Go ahead and write me a message here.