Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating philosophy, culture, and lifestyle. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit 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.
March 13, 2014
Tango Is the Search of a Dream
Tango reflects and expresses the dream, longing and hope of its creators - the early immigrants to Argentina. (See Tango: The Historical and Cultural Impacts.) A milonga is a utopia where brotherly love, fellowship, intimacy, kindness and equality triumph over prejudice, hatred, conflict, power struggle and injuries, where masculinity and femininity still attract, comfort, compliment and bring out the best in each other, and where peace and harmony are still achieved through submission, cooperation, accommodation and compromise. It is an oasis in which one can enjoy a temporary relief from the confrontation, competition, animosity and self-interests of the modern-day living.
Those who regard modernization as a progress overlooked its down side. It also is a dehumanizing process that leads mankind farther and farther away from nature and humanity. Modern science and technology have empowered the individual and made him/her increasingly self-sufficient, independent, egocentric, arrogant and aggressive. It diminished the natural bond that united people, shifted our attention from on the common survival to self-gains, and deprived us from the connection and cooperation that we used to share. The fraternity, attachments, interdependence and mutual care among people have faded away, family has disintegrated, the common values and common cause have been lost, the environment has suffered irreversible damage, natural resources have depleted, the society has been polarized and demoralized. Individualism, feminism, homosexualism, divorce, same-sex marriage, single-parent family, materialism, competition, stress, psychological imbalance, violence, cruelty, corruption and crime have grown in intensity. In short, humanity has been replaced by modernity. (See Tango and Individualism.)
The popularity of tango in the contemporary world is a profound phenomenon. We dream of a society that is equal, fair, friendly, cooperative, orderly and harmonious, like a well-organized milonga, not one that is driven by self-interests and imbued with competition, hostility, injury, stress, madness and polarization. Is modernity at the cost of humanity and environment worth pursuing? A blogger wrote, "The world is like water and mankind is like ink. What men do to the world is like what the ink does to the water. With the passage of time, the ink only makes the water muddier, not clearer. Comparing to the postmodern world of today, the past is simpler, purer, hence better." A woman wrote, "In modern-day life, we are centered around our work, which demands aggression. But if we keep being aggressive in our marriage, constantly fighting for self-interests and pushing our partner to make concessions until he gives up, then such marriage can only create an unhappy person." A Facebook friend wrote, "How many American businessmen lie in a hospital bed, after their heart attack, before they look around and ask themselves, 'How did I end up spending my life this way... working too many hours... the love of my life is a stranger, if we haven't divorced... I missed my children growing up because I worked too much... I spent my lifetime, not with my friends, but pursuing financial security... and in the end, I ended up here?'" Indeed, modern life is like a fatal attraction that causes us to lose the essence of being human. What happened to our intelligence and sanity? Why couldn't we create a world for ourselves that makes more sense? (See The World Needs a Different Philosophy.)
I believe this universal reflection on modern living and the nature of being human, this yearning for a balanced life and a harmonious society, is not irrelevant to the revival of tango today. One hundred years ago, immigrants far away from home created this dance in which they placed their dream, a dance full of human spirit and beauty, a dance that highlights human interdependence, connection, cooperation, complement and harmony. I believe tangueros and tangueras today are searching for the same dream. People who have had the fortune to get involved in tango must take the responsibility to preserve this sanctuary for the mankind. We not only need to teach others how to dance tango, but also need to teach them its ideas, because without these ideas tango could be dehumanized and assimilated by the world as well. (See The Freedom in Tango.)