Why Dance Tango
Would you like to dance?
When you tell someone in the States that you are a tango dancer, they almost always ask if you are going to be on "Dancing with the Stars," a popular reality show on television here. This is most people's idea of tango. They think Tango is what they have seen in a film or on stage somewhere. They think of a handsome, macho Latin man with slicked-back hair and a long-legged sexy Latin woman whose dress is open all the way up to the hip. They imagine the couple flying across the stage with the most passionate and intimate of embraces. And they think, "Well that is not me," and they try to imagine you in one of those roles. If you can relate to what your friend is thinking, it is quite a funny moment.
Tango is Social
Of course, the stage is a part of Tango, but most people have no idea that Tango is mostly a social dance and the main reason we dance is for companionship. We dance Tango because it is a quick way to make friends and puts us into a community of other people who like to dance. One of the traditions of Tango is that you change partners after three songs or one set of songs. So when you go to dance, you end up dancing with many different people. Most couples even follow this tradition because dancing with other people is fun and keeps your relationship fresh. When you first start learning Tango, you meet the other students in your class. When you start going to dances, called milongas, you meet other people who dance in the milongas. And when you travel, you can meet people in tango communities around the world. Just google CITY+Tango (for example, New York Tango) and you will see. When you visit a new community, just introduce yourself to someone who is having fun and tell them you are visiting. They will introduce you to their friends and make sure you have a good time. You have an instant community of friends wherever you go. Once you have been in Tango for a while, you may even find yourself going to a milonga and not dancing because you spend so much time chatting with your friends.
Tango is Not About How You Look
One of the great things about Tango is that it does not matter if you are young or old, fat or skinny, handsome or beautiful. If you learn to dance well and treat people with respect, people will want to dance with you. Tango is not based on how you look.
Tango is the perfect antidote to hurried and isolated modern lifestyles, especially for those of us who live in big cities. I come from New York City which is a city of work. There is a lot of competition there so you work hard and fast. You rush all the time and put in long hours. You do not let people connect with you in public because there are so many people and a few of them are crazy. You are away from your family and friends because you are working on your career. Surrounded by 25 million people and one of the world's great cultural centers, you can find yourself very, very alone. You wish you had a girlfriend or boyfriend to be intimate with, but people are so into their work and things move so fast in the big city that it is hard to create a lasting relationship.
In contrast to this modern lifestyle, Tango forces you to shut off the madness and focus on your dance partner. Tango forces you to be calm and still inside because your partner feels everything and feeling hectic and rushed does not feel good. Tango puts you in the community of teachers and dancers where you live so you find that you have friends and something to do with them on a regular basis. An entire night of Tango costs around ten dollars, euros or pesos, more or less. That is the price of one drink in New York City, and there is not much drinking or drug use in the Tango community. It's a very clean lifestyle, although we are a little sleepy at work sometimes.
The Tango Embrace and Connection
Tango is many things, but one of the main things is an embrace. It is more or less hugging another person and being hugged by them while you walk around the dance floor. You may still want a boy- or girlfriend for more intimacy, but you will probably find that your desire to hold and be held by another person is satisfied by Tango. We forget that this is a basic human need and that babies raised without being held go insane. Don't let this happen to you!
After a few months of dancing Tango, something you never felt before will happen one night on the dance floor. It's called connection and is why people go crazy for Tango. Once you relax enough and learn to listen to the music and open to your dance partner, one moment you will feel completely at one with them. You will feel like you are the only people in the room and everything slows down and you can dance like you never danced before. You will walk together in ways that you did not even know you could do. You might not know your partner's name or even speak their language, but once connection happens, you will want to dance Tango a lot just to have that feeling again. This is what it is to connect with another human.
There are many ways to achieve connection. Some people exercise, some meditate, some do yoga, some pray. You can get there by making love. A really nice thing about Tango is that making connection is something you do with another person and in the company of friends. Tango dancers get connection by holding each other close with respect, and opening into one another, the music and the community.
So this is why we dance Tango. It's about being with friends, having something inexpensive, relaxing and fun to do together, being held and connecting with people. You should try and see for yourself. Then maybe some day you will tell one of your non-Tango friends that you have become a Tango dancer and watch the funny look that appears on their face as they try to imagine you dancing passionately across a stage in the embrace of a gorgeous partner.
So I ask you again, would you like to dance?