Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

April 30, 2011

Tango as a Philosophy

As a comprehensive art form, tango is different things to different people: to men it is leading, to women it is following, to novices it is steps, to veterans it is feelings, to lovers it is a relationship, to peacocks it is a display, to social dancers it is a dissipation for personal pleasure, to professionals it is a job to entertain others, to heterosexuals it is a gender expression, to homosexuals it is a gender-neutral play, to ordinary people it is a simple interest, to Milongueros it is a lifestyle, to foreigners it is only a dance, to Argentinians it is also a deeply rooted culture... We all understand and dance tango differently for who we are and what philosophy we have.

Tango philosophy involves issues that make us different. The following is an incomplete list of such issues. Each may have many answers. Every dancer is entitled to his/her own opinions. Some may be more or less correct or incorrect, others may just be personal preferences and neither right nor wrong. But collectively these opinions and preferences define the way each of us dances and behaves, and put us into different categories. Studying and exchanging views on these issues can help us deepen our understanding, learn from each other, improve our dance, and, hopefully, achieve mastery through a comprehensive grasp of all aspects of tango.
20. Dictation vs. conversation
21. Pluralism vs. monism
24. Improvisation vs. choreography
25. Progressive dancing vs. spot dancing
28. Comfort vs. beauty
38. Buenos Aires vs. international


  1. Do you regard all of these pairs of concepts as strict dichotomies? I think some of them are actually hard to separate out, such as "movement orientation/music-feeling orientation" or "personal enjoyment versus show-off" (we want to look good while we're dancing so as to get more dances and hence more enjoyment!) or "elegance vs. comfort" (if your aesthetic involves a very natural, smooth look, which is also comfortable to dance) or "rhythm versus melody" (I am still sceptical as to whether we can really dance to the melody, as opposed to the rhythms within the melody). It sounds as though there is potential for some interesting discussion.


  2. We hope beauty and comfort go hand in hand, but that is not always the case. Movement oriented dancers like to do fancy stuffs that catch eyes and use whatever embraces that help to expand movement possibilities, often at the cost of their own and their partner’s comfort. On the other hand, those who dance for personal enjoyment may be embrace specific, use simple steps, focus only on personal feelings and don’t care much about how they look.

  3. Dance to the music does not only mean stepping on the beat, it also means dancing with cadencia. When in motion, the body produces a momentum in each step, which can be maneuvered by accelerating and then halting the body motion to create a lilt or cadence in the horizontal direction, like a wave of motion across each step in correspondence with the rhythmic flow of the music. The rhythm is faster, regular, and less emotional. The melody is slower, more sentimental and often irregular. Dancers with good musicality can use different cadencia and other means, such as slow motion and pause, to express different emotions.

  4. To: Terpsichoral. I certainly appreciate your comment. But, in reply to your statement that reads “we want to look good while we're dancing so as to get more dances and hence more enjoyment!”. It seems that you’re dancing to impress others instead of concentrating on your partner and how she feels and how you connect with her. If she is pleased with your dance, I can guarantee she will tell other ladies and they will want to dance with you. If she is not pleased with your dance because you are focused on putting on a show for others, then she will tell her friends and they won’t want to dance with you.
    I’ve seen this happen so many times at Milongas.