Better than Sex

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1477495_10201134834068917_1905675156_nWhen Argentine Tango is good –when the partners are able to maintain a sublime level of connection, moving as one– it is absolutely rapturous. It feels like [Hollywood] Movie Sex looks: smooth, passionate, consuming. This experience is so intense that it can trigger romantic emotions, the sensation of being in love – even though we don’t know much (or anything) about this person. It’s possible the partners have never even spoken, or only superficially. And when we are inside this feeling, such trivia doesn’t seem to matter. We feel a deep intimate knowledge, a timeless and incomparable connection.

Experienced dancers know:

  1. These emotions are a by-product of physical skills.
  2. Anyone who has the skills to do this with you, is also having equivalent (or better!) experiences with others, many others.
  3. The sense of profound knowledge of another person is false. Lots of people who meet you in the dance as you feel you have never been met before in your whole life, once you get to know them, fail to sync with your values and life, often dramatically.

Who is this person you are dancing with?

After 10 years of dancing 4-6 nights a week, living in 5 countries and visiting others, befriending and loving many dancers, I can tell you some things about the person in your arms.

A single man who has worked hard and long enough on his tango to give a woman the Sublime Rapture Experience is a man who is aware of and managing a personal vulnerability which drives him to seek a form of intimacy other than {option 1} having a girlfriend/wife or {option 2} seeking casual sex. He may have emotional or sexual problems, emotional trauma after a failed relationship, social insecurity, or he may simply have decided that he finds relationships burdensome and has decided to avoid them. He has discovered that if he cultivates a great embrace and a sweet personality, he can have all the girls he wants up to exactly the point he wants to go. Whatever that point is, he has the hard-won confidence to know he can always and easily get another girl.

A single woman who is willing to suffer the humiliation of sitting in a room waiting to be chosen by one of a bunch of men (who, let’s be honest, would never turn her head on the street) is a woman who has become addicted to an experience much much different from sex. If she is smart, she knows that subtle evocations of sexual availability during the dance (the famous Polish nose-nuzzle is a perfect example, but you can use various parts of your body) will keep a man dancing with her, or coming back to her. This evocative promise is her skill, comparable to the man’s embrace.

What about the married people? For some, it’s a couple activity. But if they are dancing a lot with others, it means there is something missing in their relationship and they are trying to find a loyal way of feeding their needs as individuals so they can stay in the relationship. Tango turns out to be more dangerous than they anticipated.

What about the (rare) handsome, svelte, or stylish men? Are they really the “catch” they seem to be? Probably very damaged or frozen in some way. These attributes are an even stronger indication that they are dancing tango as an alternative to being a boyfriend or as a supplement to an existing commitment.

600701_3471409579917_1511930788_nTango is “better than sex” for men and for women, but that means something very different

For men, tango is better than sex because it allows them to cut off emotional engagement at any point. Some men cut it after the tanda. (They are off promptly to find the next girl.) Some men focus on connection with one partner for an entire evening, and then cut it at the end. (The next time you see them they may act like it didn’t happen.) Some men use tango to find an endless stream of casual sex partners (or even an endless stream of inconsequential casual girlfriends, with whom they never partner).

For women, tango is better than sex because the average tango experience is more tender and passionate than the average sex experience. Of course some men are really great at sex, but many women have never met such a guy, and searching for this is something she may be unwilling to do for lots of reasons. In tango she may be having the best romantic physicality of her life, and she is aware that the sex which could follow is unlikely to be as tender, attentive, and dignified.

Nevertheless, the romantic feelings which are stirred in women by this experience often cause us to want more. If the tango is good, we fantasize that the man is good, and that the relationship we could have with him could be as superlative as the dances. For something so promising, we are willing to risk everything for a chance to find out. In the moment that we heedlessly open our hearts, we are forgetting: If he has the skills to create these feelings with me, he is also creating them with many other girls. The very fact that he has these skills and is hanging out at a milonga several nights a week is an indication that he is probably not a superlative man and/or not interested in being a boyfriend to someone.

What he is interested in is having a constant drip of fresh women’s desire and sensuality (either because he has an emotional need for it, or simply because he stumbled on tango and has realized he can have something better than he ever imagined). A woman who allows herself to fall in love with such a man will soon be mainlining suffering.

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Books

Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

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