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.

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 concept. For example, in the minds of men, "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 make us different 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 the image of goddess with perfect face, eyes, body, curves, hips, legs, softness, flexibility, sexuality, temperament, etc., - an ideal lover, partner, companion, friend, wife, and mother of human offspring. (See The Conceptional Beauty of Tango.) 

In fact, it goes further. Desirable features are even highlighted. Statues of women often have exaggerated curves, fuller breasts, narrower waist, wider hips and longer legs. This kind of 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)

Tango as an art form is aligned with the holy words. It humanizes us, elevates our humanity and enables us to transcend vulgarism and hypocrisy. A culture that separates decent humanity from vulgarism and sanctions the former, I believe, is more human and civilized than that equates the two and disapproves both. (See Close Embrace and Open Embrace (I).) Tango women must be honest about their body, draw on it in the dance not only to receive information, but also to comfort, seduce and bring contentment to their male partner, for example, massages him when twisting in his arms, rubs him when rocking to and fro in ocho cortado, etc. (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) Using her femininity to comfort, seduce and bring contentment to her partner is an essential part of the woman's role in tango. (See The Gender Roles in Tango.)

The same is true for the man. 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 must be mindful 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 body to support, protect, lead, comfort and bring contentment to them is the essential part of our role in tango. (See The Gender Expression in Tango.)

The innocent intimacy and playfulness in tango is human and healthy, which satisfy our need for connection and love, strengthen the bond between the two sexes, comfort and excite us without being offensive and disrespectful. Despite the critique that tango is a politically incorrect dance by those trying to promote a "sanitized version" featuring open embrace and gender neutrality (See Tango and Gender Equality), the argument that tango leads to sexual misconducts contradicts the reality. Tango dancers all over the world can testify that tango is not a sexual dance. The minds of the dancers are so focused on the music, emotions and artistic expressions that other mental exercise is unfeasible. It would be like attempt to compose a poem in fishing when the fish is actively biting. Tango, like other art forms such as ballet and figure skating, is an artistic sublimation. Moral defenders either are 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 be reminded that good manner is the number one card people play in tango, that misconducts will meet resistance, that nobody will dance with you if you show no respect to others, and that repeated offenders will not be welcomed by the community, so the "sanitized version" is superfluous. 

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