tango

The Gifts of Tango

Something magical happens when people come together to dance. I remember our apartment in Moscow crowded with people, my dad sitting in the center with a guitar, crying. Everyone around him also moved to tears, singing songs together that expressed something sad and ominous. I remember the comfort I felt falling asleep among all the guests, the pulsing drone of all the voices… laughing, yelling, crying, exclaiming.

There was something so magical in the air. Something that arose over time, after hours of drinking and talking, when gradually everyone’s guard was lower than when they came in, emotions were easier to admit to, conversations became more honest. I felt more kindness between people. This is when I felt the happiest.

It is still my happiest place. I realized this last weekend during a tango event at Tango Berretin in Portland, OR. After three days of dancing we all gathered around to hear some live music by Alex Krebs, Andrew Oliver, and Adrian Jost. The air was thick with that same magic and I found myself once again in awe of the power of tango to bring people together like this.

Why We Are SOTANGO About It, Part 4/4: Let's Make Art

Tango comes into existence every time each individual dancer steps onto the dance floor and takes the embrace. Tango is a result of a collective act of dancing together. Tango is perpetuated into evolution by the pure joy experienced by each dancer. The more joy a dancer experiences, the more they want to dance, the more tango is created, forever, into eternity. The external form of tango will alter over time as each dancer individually undergoes personal and physical evolution. New trends, new music, new inspiration will surely influence how people dance social tango in a century or so. But in the end, it is not about how tango evolves, it is about how we can use tango to evolve ourselves. How creative, beautiful, empowered, confident can we become through tango?

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Social tango is a collective art. It is an urban phenomenon that arose among people who were desperate for connection. Everything within tango - the figures, the etiquette, the music - developed over time as a collective expression, a conversation among dancers, musicians, poets, writers, artists… The result is a form of creative social practice that has successfully spread throughout communities around the world.

When considering why social tango has been so successful, I believe it is because it answers to a deep longing within ourselves to connect, to express, to belong, and to create. It fulfills an essential human need for healthy physical touch and intimacy. It integrates communities, bridging the gaps between ages, cultures, and belief systems. It provides continuity that fosters building of supportive relationships. In essence, social tango functions in our culture the way dancing around a fire functions in tribal cultures - it is a social glue. As such, it is capable of tremendous personal and collective transformation that we so need at this time.

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.
— Agnes de Mille