There was an article published in the New York Times Science section at the beginning of April entitled:
This article was interesting and has some relevance I’m sure as to why we often dress a certain way for tango. The article spoke about what you wear changing you psychological state. I know this makes sense to me. I loved dressing up as a child and dressing in someone else’s clothing was preferable! And what about now?
I like to look nice, to look elegant, but getting there is challenging sometimes! Some of you know that I do not actually enjoy going shopping. I am probably one of the few women I know who would rather hire someone to do this job for me! Or shop online. Just make me look good but don’t make me go through the hassle of taking off and putting on clothes in a dressing room in a bunch of different stores, trying to find clothing that fits, looks good, feels good. HELP! Maybe this is a skill that we have to acquire? “The shopping skill.”
In preparing for the tango championship a lot of resources were spent on finding just the right outfits for both myself and Rommel and making sure we “matched”. When you look good and feel that you look good, it can have a transforming affect on the psyche. We essentially had to dress like winners and winners for this competition have to look a certain way. We learned this from last year’s trial run when some of the feedback we received was specifically on our dress.
I remember hearing my mother speak about a time in Buenos Aires on the Calle Florida (which is a major shopping area and tourist center now) when women and men would dress up to promenade on Calle Florida. My grandmother would never leave her house without dressing up and doing her hair. And there was a time when going to a milonga was a night out on the town where you dressed up, wore your best clothing, greased back your hair, and women never left the house without their stockings. (Incidentally nylon stockings were made in the US in 1940.)
I know this tradition hints at being alive at most milongas across the world. Dressing up in our best makes us feel sexy, appealing, attractive, etc. And we hope that of course, we will attract our perfect-in-the-moment tango mates.
In the article, the subjects of the experiments, in a nutshell, were asked to wear a Dr.’s lab coat and then were tested on sustained attention. And of course those who wore the coats, felt the coats, and had attached the meaning of it as being a “Dr.’s lab coat” showed greatest improvement in attention. The article concludes that clothing can change your psychological processes.
Maybe that’s where ladies tango shoe fetishes come in. If I wear those cute shoes, I will look like a tango dancer and therefore feel like a tango dancer and dance better. Well, readers, you know my stance on that, not if they don’t fit and aren’t comfortable!
A young student came to me after I encouraged the class to “dress to impress” for an upcoming milonga, stressing his desire for comfort. “Why can’t I wear jeans? I don’t own anything else, and I feel good in my jeans”. I understand this as I am very comfortable in my jeans or slacks and t-shirt too. But the truth is, going to a milonga is an event. Sharing tango with a community is an occasion, a happening. The dressing up is part of the magic. Each one of us plays a part at the milonga. Each one of us adds to its enchantment, to its excitement. So if you feel good and feel better in what you are wearing, you are preparing yourself psychologically for dancing. Ladies, have you experienced that dressed man who enters the milonga and takes your breath away? The suit makes him look sharp and angular, he is clean shaven and smells good, a part of the female brain says, I want to be with him! And I’m sure there’s an equivalent for the man, as they are very visual beings!
Next time you get dressed for a milonga consider the outfit that makes you feel like dancing!