Why We Are SOTANGO About It, Part 1/4: Myth vs Reality

By Yelizaveta Nersesova

“If people saw what I see, everybody would want to do it…” This statement was the tiny seed that germinated to grow into the passionate mission of SOTANGO.

When I tell people I dance tango, most of them imagine that I do this…

And if someone was curious enough about tango to look it up online, they would see this…

However, those are all examples of what is called “stage” or “performance” tango. Fortunately for me I don’t have to do that. I say fortunately because that looks like a lot of work and I am pretty lazy. I suck at choreography and I don’t like to practice. I don’t feel comfortable wearing short skirts and I don’t like to wear heels.

When I go out dancing I am interested in one thing only - having fun! I want to be swept away in the romance of the embrace, the feeling of belonging in a community, the adventure of playing with friends. This, I have found, is the best that adulthood has to offer. I used to fantasize about this when I was a kid.

So what does the tango that I dance almost every night look like?

Tango is an improvised dance constructed on the spot by two people who learn to lead and follow each other. Sometimes it is women who follow, and sometimes the followers are men. It depends on their preference. Some dancers like to wear heels, others prefer to rock it in sneakers and boots.

The dance is simple enough to be adopted by a person of almost any age. And it can get as complex as one desires, there is a lifelong amount of exploration and innovation available. Each dancer chooses their own path. Personally, I consider myself a strictly social dancer so I prefer less talking and more dancing, less studying and more partying.

No dance background necessary! Seriously! In fact, most people who dance tango do not consider themselves dancers. As the saying goes, “if you can walk, you can dance tango.” But since there are even people in wheelchairs dancing tango, even walking is not a requirement.

So, coming back to my original statement, “if people saw what I see, everyone would want to do it.” What is it that I see? I see people of various cultures, ages, backgrounds embracing each other, smiling, laughing. I see people feeling good about themselves, I see bodies come alive right in front of me. I witness life-long friendships, partnerships, collaborations that arise from the simple practice of coming together to dance. I see people cracking the shell of long term limitations having to do with social anxiety, depression, inferiority complexes, loneliness, fatigue. It is nothing short of profound to observe the depth of impact and life changes that social tango facilitates.

So here is to the limitless human creativity that produced such an ingenious language that allows us to practice love for each other. Here is to social tango as a force for good that can easily change the world.

Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.
— Don Miguel Ruiz