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.

December 14, 2011

Tango and Romanticism

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

Tango, on the other hand, is a social dance that expresses the emotions of the music and the beauty of the body through movements. It emphasizes the humanistic and artistic aspects such as feelings, music, beauty and harmony of the dance rather than the physical aspects such as strength, speed and tricks of the steps. What matters is how soulful, graceful, coherent and harmonious the dance is, not how challenging, difficult and thrilling the steps are. Tango is intended to be an intimate, comforting and romantic experience. It serves the need for affinity between the two sexes and is suggestive of an idealized romance. In the soul of tango is romanticism, which differentiates it from gymnastics and acrobatics.

If we take romanticism away from tango, what's left is a sport or show. Unfortunately, in a culture where electronic games rather than classics, sports rather than arts, and technologies rather than humanity are the main influence, 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 forms rather than the substance, and constantly seek for change and novelty. To retain tango's classic, simple, romantic and elegant style, we have works to do. One of which is to reflect more romanticism in our teaching and dancing, for example, being simpler, going deeper, showing more feelings, and focusing more on the elegance rather than tricks and degree of difficulty of the steps. Fashion will be outdated but never will romanticism, because it resides in our 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,