Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, 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 team, 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, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
March 15, 2010
I don’t know her name. She looked like in her early 30s, sitting with her girl friend who was about the same age. They sat across the floor in the women’s section, chatting and not dancing. I had an impression that they came not for dancing but watching other people dance and spending some time together, which is not uncommon in Buenos Aires.
While they were talking, she looked at me. But I didn’t pay enough attention because I didn’t think she wanted to dance. It was more like that she happened to look at my direction while chatting with her girl friend. I ignored her and searched for other prospective partners. Occasionally, her girl friend went to dance, but she never took any invitation, just sat there watching. When her girl friend returned they resumed their conversation.
I danced a lot that night. Every time I returned to my table, I saw the two girls were still talking, and she was still looking at my direction. But I chose to disregard her. I didn’t think she wanted to dance, or even could dance. However, I kept my eyes on her girl friend whose dance impressed me. The girl must have noticed that, for at one point I saw she talked to her girl friend while looking at me as if telling her I was watching her. But her girl friend only gave me a brief look and quickly turned her eyes away. Only she still gazed at me.
At that moment it suddenly dawned on me that maybe she wanted to dance with me. She might not be a good dancer but I was willing to give a try since she had being looking at me for so long. I nodded at her, and she nodded back. To make sure she was responding to my cabeceo, I turned my head around to see if someone else was communicating with her, but I saw no one was doing that. So I stood up and walked towards her. She stared at me all the way until I reached her table. “A very patient girl, confident, brave and persistent.” I thought. That was one thing I learned that night from this girl.
I was wrong. She was a very good dancer, even better than her impressive girl friend. Her beautiful and stylish footwork showed solid techniques that could only result from years of training. In fact, only a professional could dance the way she did with such control, elegance and precision. In our brief conversation she told me she was a stage dancer. I was curious why a stage dancer like her would come to a social milonga to dance tango milonguero. “This is not your style. Why do you come here to dance?” I asked. She looked at me for a moment and said, “There are too many young dancers on stage. I can’t compete with them any more. I am old.”