Just in time for Valentine’s Day I am compelled to broach this topic.
One of my first tango teachers said, “you fall in love for 3 minutes when you dance tango”. And I remember giggling and feeling excited about this prospect. Who isn’t looking for love? At the time I was single, doing my Masters, feeling ready for Prince Charming to make an appearance, and I guess I was thinking tango might show me the way or at least introduce me to a few viable P.C.’s.
But for me there was a confusion between falling in love for those 3 minutes and wanting a lifetime romance. It took a few (million) tandas to realize that I can fall in love for that tanda and what happens on the dance floor stays on the dance floor. What happened to those amazing people off the dance floor? Or possibly what happened to me off the dance floor? It seemed like all the magic disappeared. Sometimes 2 people can be very attracted to each other and have a terrible dance or the other way around, not be attracted to each other and become very attracted after the dance! I soon began to understand that the context of the dance was important. The context of the dance, in the milonga space, creates this electrically charged environment. Those exciting tandas where I felt attended to, taken care of, playful, interesting, and interested often disappeared off the dance floor as I was reminded by a life coach friend of mine that the dance is a context for those emotions. And thus back to the idea that you do fall in love just for 3 minutes.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
And I definitely think I found and lost myself a few hundred times since those beginning days! And I still am finding myself within this art form.
I think most people have a love – hate relationship with the dance. Some still mistake their lust for their love. We get angry at the dance for giving us such great tandas and some bad ones too, for allowing ourselves to become too vulnerable or too this or too that. And yet, all this is part of being alive and human, isn’t it? To say that you have felt something?
Teaching a bunch of sexually blossoming and hormonally active 20 somethings (and sometimes not just 20 somethings) I find that the etiquette of the dance provide a structure and can serve as healthy boundaries for the couples in the dance. Where the arms go in a proper embrace? how to ask for a dance with a cabaceo?
And I think the roles help to guide the tango- is- like- love metaphor in the sense that regardless of the gender the roles in tango are what we are drawn to. And the idea that there are identifiable roles is very appealing.
To guide, direct, suggest, invite, protect, be confident, attentive, patient, playful, attune, musical, flirtatious, to dance.
To be invited, protected, taken care of, reassured, attended to, to be waited for, to feel beautiful, to flirt safely, to feel safe, to dance.
Our loves in tango, our love for tango, reminds us that we are alive and capable of the emotion.
On this St. Valentine’s Day may you all fall in love during your next tango dance.