Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, 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 species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.

Together we can awaken the world.




March 25, 2012

Why People Dance Tango


The reason we dance tango has something to do with the gloomy side of life. Some people say they dance tango because they like the music, but they can listen to the music at home. Some say they like the movements, but they can move their body in acrobats as well. Some say they like the unrestrained form of tango, but martial arts may give them the same satisfaction. Some say tango is artistically challenging, but ballet raises that bar even higher. If these were the reasons people dance tango, then there would not be tango, because the alternatives are many.

Tango triumphs for a unique reason. While most dances are created to celebrate life, tango serves a different purpose. It is created by the less fortunate to shelter their sorrows. They do not come to the milonga to play peacocks, but to expose their vulnerability and seek comfort, to dance the loneliness, homesickness, nostalgia, and grief in them, to find a shoulder to rely on, to take refuge for their wounds, to quench their thirst for love, and to touch and be touched by another human being. These are ordinary people, poor people, immigrants, construction workers, waiters, waitresses, shop assistants, maids, and taxi drivers. They may not be splendid in their appearance, but you feel it when you dance with them - their embrace is warm and affectionate, their heart is sensitive and sympathetic, their feeling is deep and sincere, their movement is raw and infectious, and their dance is passionate and sentimental. Tango is their refuge. The intimate, soulful, sensual and comforting nature of tango reflects and serves their deep, inward, human needs. This is the tango still danced in the milongas of less affluent societies, such as Argentina and Uruguay.

Not all people share these needs, of course. Rich people, successful people, arrogant people, and shallow people, for instance, like the beauty of tango but don’t embrace its purpose. Instead, they use tango to celebrate their life, to glorify their success, to show off their style, to display their ego, and to boast their superiority. The traditional tango is too modest for them, so they make changes - opening up the embrace, inventing fancy steps, adding ostentatious tricks, using exotic music, etc. As a result, they created a peacocky version of tango. It looks flashy and feels empty. This kind of tango now is the fashion in affluent societies such as ours.

Tango has survived many challenges in the past. It will survive this one as well, I believe, because needs, desires, yearnings, loneliness, love, interdependency, tenderness, sentimentalism and romanticism are an intrinsic part of human nature even among the toughest. The less fortunate people are particularly vulnerable, which is why they created tango. This may also explain why milongas are more crowded in bad times than in good times, why more women dance tango than men, and why the revival of tango happens now when there are more travelers and immigrants in the world than ever before. Tango will always be the dance of the lonely, homesick, nostalgic, needy, vulnerable, sentimental and romantic. The fortunate people need tango, too, if they are not blind by their success and arrogance. After all, we are human, and tango is for all who search inward for their humanity.


9 comments:

  1. Agree, but I think Milonga dance, that also is related to tango, is the other face of the coin. Turning some of the sorrows off and reminding you that life is a blending of experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dance with me.....you sound like an old friend.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. "While most dances are created to celebrate life, tango serves a different purpose. It is created by the less fortunate to shelter their sorrows. They do not come to the milonga to play peacocks, but to expose their vulnerability and seek comfort, to dance the loneliness, homesickness, nostalgia, and grief in them, to find a shoulder to rely on, to take refuge for their wounds, to quench their thirst for love, and to touch and be touched by another human being." I agree with you. That's why I dance tango.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi there--I love this. I just wanted to let you know I quoted from this post, crediting you and linking to your blog. I hope this is ok. It's for a good cause!

    ReplyDelete

  5. The reason why people dance this is to get the feeling of connection. No other dance allows such a close and deep connection. This is why people persist with that goal for a very long time. If it were not for that, people would give ups the dance requires a lot of sustained effort to develop that connection. It's human nature - we all want to connect with other humans.

    ReplyDelete