What is tango connection?

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Almost every dancer of Argentine Tango will tell you that the most important and attractive thing about the dance is the special experience of tango connection. They are talking about the sensation of physical unity with another person, which also elicits mutual concentration and emotional warmth. (And addiction.)

This is hard to teach, but I’ve worked for years to be able to provide specifications and convey it rapidly and consistently.

But very few people knew about this when they started dancing, and it is not why they came.

They came for a very different idea of connection – social connection. They came to meet people in a different context than work, dating, bars…

Tango scenes around the world do reliably provide dancers with a sense of community. Walk into your local milongas any night of the week and people remember and greet you, often with kisses.

This is valuable in itself.

Moreover, many dancers do meet romantic partners through tango, although they may regret falling in love with a dancer once they experience the poignant jealousy of watching your love’s face while in the arms of others…

I’m usually writing about biomechanical technique or improvisation, but this post is about something else.

What is Tango Connection?

Beyond the sense of community, what is enriching and satisfying about tango is the experience of partnership.

Partnership is personal. It’s about knowing, seeing, and valuing, paying close attention, listening, appreciating, and desiring one another.

We are in “in it” together and we share the responsibility for what we do.

We trust the partner, and entrust ourselves to the partnership.

We give mutual concentration to one thing. (This gets us to Flow.)

We are committed over time.

We experience shared accomplishment.

It’s possible to have this experience within a tanda, or even within a single song, or over years.

And it’s also possible to dance tango and participate in a tango community without having these experiences.

It’s possible to have experiences of profound loneliness within the tango experience.

tango connectionBad connections

We can reach out through tango for connection, and find only static or pain.

I’ve been cheated by teachers who were not really “in it” or on my side, and would not tell me what to do.

I’ve been humiliated by dancers who didn’t take an interest in me.

I’ve been abandoned by dancers who did not honor what we had together, and were easily distracted by the next shiny thing.

I’ve been blamed by incompetent dancers who didn’t understand and take responsibility for their part of effective action.

I’ve been wasted by dancers who didn’t trust me and use me to achieve something new.

How to be a good partner

Men usually have the idea that they should be gentlemanly: polite, gracious, and charming. Women usually have the idea they should be obedient. Tango teachers usually have the idea that they are the star, and the student will never be as good.

This is not partnership. This is not tango connection.

A good partner shows an interest in the unique person in your arms (or in your studio).

A good partner gives their full attention when we are working together.

A good partner gives their best and puts their partner’s well-being ahead of their own pride.

A good partner is reliable.

A good partner shows interest and understands that desire is a gift (so long as it is not demanding).

And a good partner takes risks for the relationship, allowing themselves to be taken to new places by the sacred experience of connection with another person.

 

 

 

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Do you want to be a better dancer

but don’t feel you are getting what you need from your teachers?

Or do you get contradictory advice from different partners?

I got tired of hearing men tell me to be “natural”, “don’t do anything”, and “you’re floppy”, followed by “you’re stiff” …  So I studied biomechanics until I could teach perfect connection quickly.

We now have video solo practice courses that you can do at home to improve your knowledge, confidence, balance, and grace.

Order from our Digital School. Or enter your email below to preview the course:

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.

We didn’t start online education in March of 2020. We started in 2014. Learn more about our Digital School