Chasing The Tango High

“An organism steeped in pleasure is an organism disposed to continue...” Tony Robbins

There is nothing more pleasurable than a tango high. One of the first times I experienced it was with a dancer who looked like Fabio - golden hair down to his shoulders, white shirt unbuttoned a little extra, a gold chain. As silly-looking as I thought him to be from a distance, once I was in his arms I couldn’t help but forget about his stylistic shortcomings. The feeling of effortless connection and gliding of bodies, losing the sense of physical boundaries, two bodies moving as one... volumes could be (and have been) written to describe this ecstatic state and it would still fall short. 

I thought he was my soulmate. 

After the dance I felt jealousy rise as I watched him walk onto the floor with another dancer. I found myself craving more, hoping for another dance which didn’t happen, but I was hooked. Would I ever find it again? 

I was relieved to learn that this experience was not limited to just one person. My dance became about chasing this ecstasy and with time I got to experience it with more and more people. 

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Eventually, I started noticing some interesting peculiarities about this state called the “tango high.” Sometimes I would experience it with people I least expected. Dancers who did not look very good when I observed them dancing would embrace me and there I was experiencing that bliss again. However, this state wasn’t guaranteed the next time I danced with that same person. For whatever reason, when I danced with them again it felt completely different. Other times I would dance with someone for years, over and over experiencing this high state of bliss only to one day suddenly lose all interest. I also started noticing that the quality of the high was changing and with time I was experiencing physical sensations that were completely new to me.

In particular I remember one night dancing in Buenos Aires when I suddenly felt myself leave the body and hover somewhere to the left of it. I was for a few moments literally suspended somewhere out in space observing my body move with exact precision and speed while I myself felt like I was doing nothing. Other times I became aware that I could sense the space through my partner’s body, as if I was able to move through them like a hand through a glove. Experiences that first were glimpses, became prolonged and I began to sense that there was some sort of volition involved on my part. As if there was a switch of some kind that sometimes got flipped. 

Things got even more interesting once I started having these experiences outside of tango. Whether it was blues, salsa, contact improv, or swing, or solo movement, they all lead to the same destination. So I started wondering whether the source of this high was actually my own body and whether I could learn to access it on my own. 

The short answer is yes (the long answer will have to be a book).

Having explored this over the past few years I have come to see this state as natural, like sleep. And like sleep, in order to achieve it, certain conditions have to be present. To sleep I have to make sure I’m lying down, I’m warm, I have a pillow under my head, it’s dark. I learned to access the dance high in a similar way by observing my body over time. I’m sure this is going to be unique for every person so it’s not important to articulate what exactly I do for myself. What is important to know is that it requires an awareness of physical, mental, and emotional spaces. My body has to be pain free and energized, my mind has to be clear about what I want, my emotions have to be positive. When those conditions are established, it really doesn’t matter who I dance with, the high is there as a default to different degrees. 

This is the state in which I find myself do most of my learning. Whatever questions I have, whatever movements have been evading me in practice, once I am in that state, the riddles solve themselves. My next logical question became, what is possible when the high is no longer a destination, but the starting point?