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.

September 4, 2011

True Beauty Comes from Within

We love tango in part because tango is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with that. People pursue beauty for the same reason that plants bloom. It is natural. It pleases the eye and attracts mates. It provides better chances for living things to reproduce. Beauty is a valuable quality for those who own it. Consequently, it is admired, worshiped, idolized and imitated. Cosmetics, fashions, hair styling, face-lift surgery, silicon implant and many other methods are developed to make people look beautiful. Billions and billions are spent each year for it. As a result, beauty now is no longer natural and real. It becomes artificial, perverted and delusive.

When we are obsessed with superficial things, the substance is often overlooked and problems occur. A beautiful woman may have advantages, but at the same time she may also have disadvantages. She may be spoiled, arrogant and unprepared for the tough realities in real life. She may demand more and be hard to please. A prey of men, jealousy of women and heart breaker to many admirers, she could have more enemies than she can handle. Consequently, she may become suspicious, self-protective and unfriendly. Her relationship with others could be problematic, and she may live a less tranquil life. One has to bear in mind its cost when pursuing beauty. Beauty is only a skin deep. It is neither the only thing nor the most important thing in life as well as in tango.

Just like those focusing on the external things tend to overlook the substance, people fond of fancy steps often ignore feelings. However, without the feelings tango becomes an empty show. True beauty comes from within. It lies in the shared commitment, understanding, cooperation, accommodation, agreement and harmony. If you go to Buenos Aires, you will see that is how tango is danced by the milongueros and milongueras. They don't care much about how they look. They don't do fancy steps but concentrate on the relationship and feelings, and their dance is so beautiful that it is imitated by shallow minded foreigners without understanding its essence. (See The Conceptional Beautify of Tango.)  

Tango is still too young in this country. It takes maturity to overcome shallowness and understand true beauty. The more I dance with women of all ages, the more I appreciate mature women. Even in Argentina, I find that mature women are better dancers overall. Their youthful freshness is fading away, and they start to focus more on the substance rather than the superficial things. It is my hope that tango in this country, too, will overcome its shallowness and pay more attention to the substance, as our tango community becomes maturer.


  1. Dance reflects a culture, and tango is the USA doesn't have and will never have the culture of Buenos Aires. Tango as a dance will never be the same in the USA as it is in Buenos Aires.

    I heard tango music in Chicago as a child when the dance was popular for ballroom dancing. It wasn't the same style as the Argentines danced, but it was tango music.

    Americans are focused on form and how things look and who is the best, etc. It may take a long time for dancers to dig deeply within to find the feeling of tango. In the meantime, those who have discovered tango in their being will dance it with the same passion as Argentines.

    Glad we had a chance to meet during your August trip to Buenos Aires.

  2. Food for thought...Thanks for sharing.

  3. I wish more men felt that way about "mature" women!!! We'd be dancing as much as we desired. There would never be complaints about lack of connected, advanced leaders. How wonderful that would be!

  4. In my community it seems that the men put on a “show” for others instead of dancing with their partner. I always see women get kicked around, pushed or being manhandled. When I first started Tango several years ago, I wanted to learn the big flashy moves. Now that I am a little more experienced, the less I want to do. A simple beautiful connection with my partner is all I look for now. I may not dance much during a Milonga, but when I do, it is great. A few really good Tandas is a whole lot better than a bunch of bad ones. A few really good steps with the music and connection with my partner is a whole lot better than a whole bunch of bad step out of rhythm or no rhythm.

  5. I've learned a big lesson from reading these posts...just be myself and that's enough...

  6. Paul Yang. You seem to understand the tango in the way that some do not. I'd like to dance with you! I love what you've written and admire your candid approach to the dance. Thank you!