If you have been dancing tango even for a short time, you might already have noticed that everyone except for other tango dancers seem to have an image of tango that in no way corresponds to the dance that you are learning.. It is something that we tangueros have to learn to live with!
Family members, colleagues, even very close friends all ask well-meaning but totally misconceived questions.
And we canʼt blame them. We know that not everyone in the world will fall head over the heels with tango (though we’re not sure why!). And we know that tango – contrary to popular belief – is not a mainstream dance. Yes, youʼll find it in Hollywood and on Strictly, but thatʼs not the real tango!
Then there is the unfortunate coincidence that it shares a name with ballroom tango, leading people to believe that the two dances have something in common. Most tango dancers I know cringe to think that anyone they know think that this is what they dance every weekend!
Most people have no idea what tango is really about. And although a lot of us want to shout out to the world how amazing tango is, in some ways we like it that way. We like it that tango – real tango that is – is our own secret.
So what is real tango?
Beautiful Inside & Out
Tango is beautiful to watch. We know that! But it is how tango feels (for you and your partner) that is just as – if not more – important.
Tango is not just about external appearances, but about an amazing connection between two people. A connection that simmers beneath the surface so that it is barely visible to anyone outside.
It is often said that tango has a lot in common with martial arts – tai chi in particular – and there have been studies drawing parallels between tango and transcendental meditation.
Tango has a reputation for being a macho dance. And at first glance that would seem correct: the man leads, the woman follows.
But the lead is more about guidance, listening and communication, than giving commands. “Push” and “pull” are words you shouldn’t hear in a tango class. “Invite”, “breathe”, “lift” are on the other hand commonplace.
To cap it off, the lead is all about making the follower feel amazing. This is the leaderʼs prime objective. And what could be better than that?
Serious & Sad
People seem to think that tango is very serious, even sad. But there is another side to tango that is playful, upbeat and flirtatious. It is multi-faceted. Like a person, it doesnʼt have just one mood!
And even when the mood is more serious it doesnʼt necessarily make you feel sad. In fact, tango can take you away to another place, giving you an unparalleled feeling of escape, bliss and even at times euphoria. It is not uncommon to see a couple on the dance floor, gripped a close embrace, cheek to cheek, and each with a dreamy smile on their face.
Tango is like an onion: the more layers you peel off, the more you discover to enjoy.
As a a Beginner told me just the other day, after his third or fourth class:
“Tango is nothing like what I expected it to be. But itʼs so much better.”