There’s nothing wrong with Contentment

postitleswirl

Tango, like any art form, is rich enough to provide space for lots of different interpretations and personalities. And, like every art form, it’s rife with debates and policing. “That’s not a painting!”

But Tango is also a “social dance”, by which we mean a medium for socializing. And, according to doctors these days, a healthy one. It’s a way of interacting creatively and expressively with our environment, getting out of the brain (and the computer) and into gravity and sound and touch. I’m so glad you are dancing!

In any room of tango dancers, there are people who see themselves as making art, and people who see themselves as out for a low-key snuggle, or a chance to dress up, or a place to meet people, or just be around people… And none of us is so simple to have only one pure reason; various motivations and pleasures drive and satisfy all of us, in different combinations, on different nights.

Chatting with a friend once, we observed that so many tango dancers seem Complacently Content. I’m talking about leaders who’ve been dancing for years, dance several nights a week for several hours at a stretch, using about four moves. I laughed and said “but we need a name just as derogatory for ourselves… “Irrationally Ambitious“? That was a mouthful, so we settled on “Ambitious Acrobats” (since someone had recently disrespected a  bunch of members of the community by calling us “acrobats”).

Yup, I’m an acrobat. As a leader, if I start repeating moves I get so bored and ashamed that I have a hard time finishing the tanda As a follower, I am disappointed when leaders control me instead of trust me. I don’t mind if leaders make mistakes, I want them to practice on me and improve, not try to impress me. My legs start to ache if someone doesn’t occasionally lead a voleo.

But this post is about Contented Tango, or what another of my friends gleefully calls “the huddle and twitch”. Of course as a follower I know that it doesn’t take many moves to have a great dance, as long as they are done with a wonderful feeling of suspension. The healing part of tango, the part that saved my life, is not in the acrobatics or the art. Its in the experience of connection with another human being.

In life, in my experience, connection is rare. It happens on 2nd dates, and sometimes we spend the rest of the relationship trying to experience that level of connection again. It happens with a very few best friends – mine are scattered across the globe. I’m lonely. But when I dance tango, I get that connection immediately and consistently, because tango demands it. It requires what we’re too bored, alienated, and distracted to give each other most of the time — total mutual concentration and responsiveness. And I can do it with anyone, anytime. We don’t need to speak the same language, agree about politics, or like each other.

I’ve walked into milongas in tears, in rage, lost, afraid. And the experience of human connection has reliably stabilized, grounded, and uplifted me. I am much happier than at any other period in my life, and so grateful for the gift of Argentine Tango.

I want you to know that you are not alone…

embrace orig crop

… neither in your dreams for tango nor in your frustrations.

My deepest desire is the same as all my students and friends … those who have yet to start dancing and those who dance a lot.

It’s partnership.

One thing I’ve learned on this quest, we need to:

Stop Waiting for Partners, and start Building them.

I’ve written a 10-step Action Plan.

Are you ready to find the Partners you want?

 

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Important Insights

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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