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.

December 14, 2011

Tango and Romanticism

When people comment on someone’s tango dancing as doing gymnastics or acrobatics, they are referring to a lack of romanticism in the dance. Gymnastics is an athletic exercise involving skilled physical movements aiming at developing muscles and strength. Acrobatics is an exhibition of physical feats, such as flipping in the air, balancing on one hand while doing the splits, bending the body 180 degrees backwards, etc. Such exercises are designed to show what human bodies are capable of for sportive and entertaining purposes. They are physically challenging and difficult to do, and are not intended to be romantic and comfortable.

Tango, on the other hand, is a social dance that connects the dancers and displays the elegant beauty of their movements in dancing. It emphasizes the artistic aspects such as feelings, sentiments, musicality, aesthetics and harmony rather than the physical aspects such as strength, speed, thrill and tricks. What matters most in tango is how soulful, coherent, harmonious and elegant the dance is rather than how challenging, difficult and thrilling the steps are. Tango is created to be a romantic and comforting experience that involves intimacy, tenderness, sensuality and romanticism. It serves the need for affinity between the opposite sexes and is suggestive of an affectionate, passionate and idealized romance. In the soul of tango is romanticism, which distinguishes tango from gymnastics and acrobatics.

If we take romanticism away from tango, what's left is a sport or show. Unfortunately, in a culture where games rather than classics, sports rather than arts, and technologies rather than humanity are the main influences, that is what tango increasingly becomes. People, especially young people brought up in this culture exhibit a lack of depth and lasting quality. They focus too much on the flashy form rather than the substance, and constantly seek changes and novelty. To retain tango’s classic, simple, romantic and elegant style, we have work to do. One of which is to reflect more romanticism in our teaching and dancing, for example, being simpler, going deeper, slowing down, showing more feelings, and focusing more on the emotion and elegance rather than tricks and degree of difficulty of the steps. Fashion will be outdated, but never will be romanticism, because it resides in the humanity. We only need to awaken it.


  1. Paul,
    I read everyone of your articles here and I love everything you have to say. It is as though you read my mind. As I read your blog, I find myself thinking "Yes! that's what I mean! that's exactly what the problem is!..". It is as though we are on the same wavelength.

    The problem is I know tango communities where even though they know about these issues, they would ignore it, go on about their business as usual. It is so sad that in our society we are so gravitate toward instant gratification, don't want to cultivate anything that is hard but meaningful.
    Thank so much for sharing your thought.

    With regard,