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 people and species. 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 and birds sing. It is natural. It pleases the eye and attracts mates. It provides better chances for living things to reproduce. Beauty is a valuable resource for those who own it. As a result, beauty is admired, worshiped, idolized and imitated. Fashion, cosmetics, silicon implant, face-lift surgery and many other methods are developed to make people look beautiful. Billions and billions are spent each year for it. Beauty now is no longer natural and real. It becomes artificial, perverted and delusive.

When people are obsessed with superficial things, the substance is overlooked and problems occur. A beautiful woman may have advantages. But at the same time she may also have disadvantages. She could be spoiled, self-centered, arrogant and unprepared for real life. She may demand more and be hard to please. A likely prey of men, envy and jealousy of other women, and heart breaker to many, she could have many enemies. Consequently, she may be overly suspicious, self-protective and unfriendly. Her relationship with others could be more 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 tend to overlook the internal, people fond of fancy steps often ignore feelings. However, without the substance the look is an empty shell. True beauty comes from within. It lies in the shared commitment, intimacy, understanding, agreement, harmony, comfort and cooperation. 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. They 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, and they start to focus more on the substance rather than the surface of beauty. 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!