Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating culture, idea, lifestyle, and philosophy. In many ways, tango is a metaphor of life. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, 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 species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. We are humanists. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation and compromise. If you share this conviction, please join the conversation and let your voice be heard, which is urgently needed and long overdue.

Together we can awaken the world.




July 3, 2014

The Psychology of Tango


One

The attraction between masculinity and femininity could be so strong to ignite passion and creativity that Freud believes art is a result of sexual sublimation. Although sexuality is not the only driving force of art, the theory seems to explain tango. As long as we do not view sexuality too vulgarly, its link with passion, imagination, creativity and art is not difficult to understand. In fact, is it not true that all human activities are derived from the need for procreation and survival, thus lead to love, marriage, family, economy, development, politics, culture, corruption, pollution, crime, war, and so on? Sexuality can lead to evil, it can also lead to good. The vulgar understanding of human sexuality has caused the distortion and rejection of tango in the past. Tango's popularity today witnesses the progress of human understanding.


Two

Tango is a dance of immigrants. It is created by immigrants. It expresses the feelings and serves the need of immigrants. (See Tango: Historical and Cultural Impactst.) Those who love tango are either immigrants, or people like immigrants who are homesick, lonely, and yearning for love.

Jeanette Winterson said, "I want to go anywhere that is filled with love. I want to be like a migratory salmon, relentlessly looking for the trace of love." Love and loneliness are really the same feeling. Without that understanding, one cannot truly appreciate tango.

You do not have to leave your country to be an immigrant. Students going to schools far away from home, migrant workers looking for jobs in big cities, college graduates just stepping into the society, entrepreneurs struggling alone to start a business, homeless people, wandering travelers, lonely single adults, women who married a wrong man, powerless people bullied by the powerful. . . aren't they all immigrants? One can say that immigrant is the common status of most people. Ever since we came into the world, we became lonely migrants in search of the love and home in our dreams.

Thus, tango, known as a refuge, or home, came into being.


Three

"What is home? Home is not a house or place. It is the attachment, warm feelings and connection that we have in this vest mortal world. Without which, even a mansion of a thousand rooms is but a cold building. Home is where our hearts belong, filled with affection and love." - Xiaomu Zaixian

Xiaomu is talking about tango as well. Tango is not a form, but a feeling. Without affection and love, tango became a cold building.

But affection and love cannot be seen. People can only see the cold building.

Cancer patient Yu Juan wrote in her death bed: "When facing life and death, you realize that working overtime (long-term staying up late is suicidal), pushing yourself too hard, wanting to buy a new car or new house, these are all vanities. If you have time, spend it with your children, use the money saved for the new car to buy a pair of shoes for your parents, don't work overtime in order to move to a bigger house. Being with the loved ones is warm even live in a small apartment."

Yu Juan is also talking about tango. The most important thing in tango is not to impress others, but to enjoy your own feelings. Happiness is simple and artless, it belongs to yourself.

But happiness cannot be seen. People can only see what is impressive externally.


Four

The parents tell the children, "This cake tastes better than that." But the children do not believe, they want to try whatever looks colorful and tempting. After they have tasted everything, they decide that the parents are right. So they tell their children. But their children do not believe, they want to try whatever looks colorful and tempting.

The milongueros tell the beginners, "Fancy steps are useless in the milongas." But the beginners do not believe, they want to learn fancy steps. After they have studied all they can learn, they decide that the milongueros are right. So they tell their students. But their students do not believe, they want to learn fancy steps.

Again and again, how many efforts of the mankind are wasted on pursuing the vanity?

"Happiness is actually a lot simpler than what we thought. The problem is, if we do not explore all the complexities and experience all the miserable, if we do not climb all the mountains and fall all the falls, we would not believe that happiness lies in that small piece of shade under the tree under the foot of that hill." - Liu Yu

Perhaps that is how people learn. But those who can set aside ego may avoid many unnecessary detours.


Five

Zhu Deyong said, "There are two ways of life: one is to follow the expectations of others; the other is to follow your own heart. The former might get a lot of applause from others, but not your own. No one else would applaud for the latter perhaps, but you will surely applaud for yourself."

Tango is feelings, relationship, communication, oneness, harmony, comfort, love, refuge, home, etc. The only thing that tango is not, is performance. A performance is a pigment-added show, just like golden fritters deep-fried with recycled oil, made only for others to see. Have you ever seen anything that is made for others to see real? Tango is tango only when it is not a performance. 

Not that you cannot watch videos. But keep in mind that tango is not learned with the eye. It is learned with the heart, for love can only be felt.


Six

The hearts have genders. There are men's hearts. There are women's hearts.

Men and women look for different things in tango. What is programmed in the DNA of the male is strength, which is why men are attracted to women. They need to be comforted by women. What is programmed in the DNA of the female is softness, which is why women are attracted to men. They need the sense of security. Masculinity and femininity attract each other, complement each other and bring out the best in each other. This is the law of the universe. 

Woman, you should make the home comfortable, so that he may feel where you are is his home.

Man, you should lead and protect her attentively, so that she can rely on you and feel secure.

Happiness is a feeling. The secret of tango lies not in aesthetics, but in psychology.


Seven

Li Ao said, "If you want to remember the beauty of the flower, leave before it fades. If you want to enjoy the taste of the wine, walk away before you get drunk. If you want to find lasting love, do not date forever."

It makes a lot of sense for tango to be short. It is only three minutes, so the aftertaste is endless.

"Perhaps the most beautiful love is that you love him and he loves you, but the two of you are not together." - Anonymous

Tango does not need to be long, or danced by those who are together. A poem entitled "The Kiss" wrote, "I ran up the door, opened the staircase, put on my prayer, said the pajama, turned off the bed, got into the lamp, all are because the kiss you gave me, when you said goodbye." Many women left the milonga after a perfect tango, just to preserve that surprisingly wonderful feeling.

Tango is the art of feeling. It is created to feel.

In that feeling, many found a temporary home.

7 comments:

  1. I am reading your blog since quite some time and I appreciate your articles. Today I leave a comment for the first time.

    I also believe that tango is a dance for immigrants and that it allows them to find a home when they are lacking the feeling of coming home otherwise. Your first citation in part seven ends with "do not date forever". I wonder if tango is not in a certain sense an endless dating. In tango we can experience the feeling of "coming home", but this "home" is something very unstable, non-permanent. Tango allows us to feel a certain safety, of "coming home", maybe even "love", for the duration of one tanda. But then? Is not the life of a tanguero often lacking stable relationships? Is not this the reason for him to actually dance tango? In the light of the above citation, would not it be more sane to try to find enduring love, a real home?

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. But, I wouldn't go that far. Immigrant status may make people aware more of the importance of connection, fellowship, love, etc., it doesn't make them loners. People go to other places for connection, fellowship, love, etc., too, such as churches. Tango, like a church, is a fellowship or community, without which tango is nothing. Those who think tango as just a dance or show do not truly understand tango, in my opinion.

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  2. A friend of mine said that a room full of tango dancers is a room full of people with some serious baggage! Generally speaking, most people I know have baggage. Whether it's serious or not is a matter for speculation....

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    1. How interesting to think about the commonalities of tango dancers, isn't it?

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  3. Very interesting! Could you please tell me the sources of chinese quotes ? Thanks in advance, Damiano

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    1. You can find the original quotes in Chinese at my weibo page, http://weibo.com/3305653273. Weibo is the Chinese equivalence of FB. But it will take some time to dig them out. If you just want to read them in Chinese, please go to my Chinese blog page through the link 寻找探戈 in "My Website" on the right, then click the title 探戈心理学.

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  4. Thank you for this absolutely beautiful understanding of the essence of tango. I am a woman who has been dancing tango for a little more than a year now in southern Arizona.

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