Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of humanity, connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, 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 team, 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, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

August 24, 2015

Artistic Sublimation and Vulgarism in Tango

Humans are able to draw on common nature or essence of things and abandon their individual and non-essential property in order to formulate a transcendental concept. For example, in the minds of men, a woman often is not a specific female person, but an abstract idea. As Carlos Gavito put it, "She's a dream of something I want in real life, but that ideal does not have a face." Abstract thinking is one of the things that separate us from animals. While it may lead to generalized biases such as racism, it also is the origin of art. Beauty, after all, is an abstract concept. We take common properties of all women to formulate a Goddess with perfect face, figure, curves, hips, legs, softness, flexibility, temperament, character, intelligence, sexuality, etc., - an ideal lover, companion, partner, friend, wife and mother of human offspring. (See The Conceptional Beauty of Tango.)

In fact, desirable features are even highlighted. Statues of women often have exaggerated curves, fuller breasts, narrower waist, wider hips and longer legs. Such abstraction is found in nearly all artistic expressions. We read even in the Holy Bible such verses, "Your breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle." (Song of Songs 7:3) "How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love, with your delights! Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit." (Song of Songs 7:6-7) The woman echoed, "I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment." (Song of Songs 8:10)

As an art form, tango is in line with the holy word that sublimes rather than vulgarizes our common humanness. A culture that separates decent humanity from vulgarism and sanctions the former, I believe, is more civilized than that equates the two and disapproves both. (See Close Embrace and Open Embrace (I).) Women must understand that tango is an intimate, soulful and loving dance, using their femininity to attract, comfort and bring contentment to their male partners is a part of their role in tango. (See The Gender Roles in Tango.)

The same is true for men. As Perri Lezzoni wrote in his essay A Little Machismo Goes A Long Way, "One of the most difficult things leaders have to learn is how to put some machismo into the tango connection. The tiniest amount will do but exuding it without offense is not easy. It is the most important spice in the stew; without it there are no women and without women there is no tango... Machismo is the expression of a person’s inner warrior and it is not solely manufactured by men. It is the fighter inside of us that the follower finds so alluring."

Men need to understand that what makes us special to women is the makings of us, our manhood, strength, masculinity and machismo, not political correctness. Women like to rely on our broad shoulder, melt in our strong arms, feel our muscles, admire our strength and enjoy our protection. It is of their nature to seduce us, get our attention, arouse our hunger for them, submit and surrender to us and follow our lead. Using our masculinity to support, protect, lead, comfort and bring contentment to them is an essential part of our role in tango. (See The Gender Expression in Tango.)

The innocent intimacy and playfulness of tango serves our needs for connection and affection, strengthens the bond between the two sexes and quenches our thirst for affinity with each other. Despite the criticism that tango is a politically incorrect dance by those who try to promote a "sanitized version" featuring open embrace and gender neutrality, their claim that tango leads to sex harassments contradicts the reality. Tango dancers all over the world can testify that though an intimate dance, tango is not sexual. The mind of the dancer is so focused on music, emotions and artistic expression that other mental exercise becomes unfeasible. It would be like attempt to compose a poem in fishing when the fish is actively biting. Tango, like all other art forms, is an artistic sublimation. Moral defenders are either outsiders who know nothing about tango, or hypocrites with dubious intentions. Instead of blaming tango, they should get to know the dance first. They should understand that good manner is the first card people play in tango, that nobody will dance with you if you show no respect to others, and that bad behaviors will not be tolerated by the community, so the "sanitized version" is superfluous. (See Tango and Gender Equality.)