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Tango High

May 28, 2011
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Gulls in Flight by shho on www.sxc.hu
It occurs to me that the “tango high” is not familiar to many people, including those who dance tango. Let me explore…

Social dancing has, until recently, been a necessary part of culture and social interaction. It binds people together, it lets off steam, and it permits (permitted) social interaction that might otherwise be… unwise. At one time, dancing was the only way a couple could meet and get to know each other; there are medieval and renaissance dance manuals that specify dancing to improve health and agility, and to provide an opportunity to observe the relative fitness of a potential marriage partner.

Having fallen out of favor, perhaps because of the puritans and other restrictive Christian groups, we are now attempting to rebuild a much-needed aspect of our social and biological selves. Social dancing, that is, touch-dancing with a partner, is coming into its own again.

Now to tango.

Many people have experienced ballroom tango, International Tango, American-style tango, and found it… acceptable. It affords the touch that the human psyche needs, though at a distance.

Enter Argentine Tango. Oh, it’s fresh from the barrios; it intrudes delightfully on the carefully constructed distance we North Americans place between ourselves, battering our isolationism with its innate sensuality. If we lack self-discipline, we can cross the line between sensuality and sexuality (and hurt and be hurt by it). But approached with the right attitude…

With the right attitude, it brings us closer to other human beings, both leads and follows. We change dance partners with every dance set to ensure everyone at a dance (milonga) has a chance to dance, and a chance to explore the varied expressions of the music with different partners. We dance close, heart to heart, to better communicate the intentions of both lead and follow. We listen to the music and reach into our souls, and together improvise an interpretation of the music in movement; we become a single heartbeat with four legs. In our co-creation is a magic found only in the creative mind, unsullied by mere conversation.

As we delve deeper into our souls, the movements become more subtle, more controlled, more elegant; we go from collecting fancy steps to simplifying, stripping off the outer shell of complicated footwork to reveal an intense connection, a connection that can be frightening yet… alluring.

If you wait out the discomfort, you will find… Every dance partner will be experienced purely, without comparison. Every dance set (3-4 songs in a set) will be an opportunity to know yourself better and your partner, too. Every dance will absorb your full attention. Every dance will take you another step closer to that concept of love that transcends individual love. And at the end of the evening, you will feel tired, quietly happy, willing to love the whole world, and … something else that I -still- cannot put words to, but I hope that you, too, will experience that tango high.

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