Connection relies on muscle control, but it is much more than that. Muscle control is just the entry ticket to the party. When we arrive we still have choices to make about how to interact, what parts of ourselves to share, and how deeply we seek to connect.
Tango can be a trip out of time and space into an energetic reality of altered consciousness comparable to drug experiences, spiritual ecstasy, etc. Indeed dance was used for spiritual journeys and healing by indigenous peoples. Tango is a powerful tool in service of these same goals. A number of research studies have shown that partner dance generally, and tango specifically, aids health.
The emotional dimension of tango is available to those who surrender their thinking mind, releasing their consciousness into the music, and emotions. Doing so requires intense trust in your own body and your partner, because you will be moving without thought and pre-consideration.
Followers are more likely than leaders to access this experience as beginners, but it’s possible for a leader at any level to switch off the planning mind and enjoy the movements already available to him.
Ultimately we want to dance not by thinking, but by feeling the music, partner, and the flow of fellow dancers’ power in the room.
The emotions of tango can be quite overwhelming. When we open ourselves to this experience we may feel intense feelings of connection, attraction, even love for a partner to whom we may never have spoken. The end of the tanda(s) provides a careful curtain to these feelings. You finally let go of each other and return to your former position, perhaps forever awoken, but for now separate.
Be perfectly clear that a partner who arouses your emotions likely has this effect on everyone they dance with. While they may value you highly as a unique dance partner, you are not the only one they feel this way about. Do not weave stories about secret romances. Don’t break your heart over an impervious dancer.
Students must be aware that teachers sometimes stimulate students’ emotions in hope of securing their loyalty as clients or to provide them with a compelling experience of the dance. Some teachers may feel that a little romance is part of students’ expectations. If you experience something romantic or subtly sexual with a teacher or any dancer, you only need to turn your face away or gently pull your body slightly away. They’ll get the message. If you are available for a date, be explicit about this and see if they follow up.
Dance romances are both inadvisable and unavoidable. You will have superlative experiences. You will connect deeply. The rest of your life will seem pale, increasing your desire to fulfill the promise of the dance. The very real threat is that if it doesn’t work out you may no longer get to dance with this person and your entire tango life may be contracted by the need to avoid each other. The passion of tango is safest contained by the tanda; passions once expanded beyond its bounds are not easily reshelved. The milonga and the dance itself can easily turn from a place of exquisite delight and tenderness to a place of raw anguish.
While long-married couples may find tango a space to safely explore extraneous desires, new couples may find jealousy triggered nightly.
It takes great psychological strength to dance tango as a single, to enter and leave that room alone. To wait, especially to wait. But it takes even more psychological strength to watch your love in the arms of another, to wonder what he is feeling, to keep your fantasies in check and not to punish or fight back by trying to make your love jealous in return or by gushing suspicion and fear at her.
The cumparsita is sacred for a reason: You don’t just come back to each other. You let go of others. You choose each other in the very face of temptation. You bring yourself back to your chosen relationship, away from spontaneous fantasies of flirtation. Fellow dancers should always encourage their friends back to their partners at this moment.
You don’t just go home together. First you give each other the best of what you have been giving to other people.