The Beauty and Sensuality of Tango

Photo taken May 2018 at Escadaria Selaron in Rio de Janeiro Brazil

I was originally inspired to write this by Marcy, another Medium writer who wrote this piece about Tango. Thank you to my tour guide from the company Tango Trips in Buenos Aires. It’s high time I wrote about why this dance has captivated me. So much so that I danced tango on my 50th birthday.


Tango has, like most dance, roots in Africa with a mixture of European waltz and polka. I learned from my teacher and another tour guide that this dance was born in the slums of Buenos Aires in the 1880s and was shaped by dances of the candombe from Africa. I was lucky enough to have a chance to witness a group of drummers playing candombe on the streets of Buenos Aires during my tour. This particular group of drummers were heating the drums with a small fire on the streets to make the skin easier to play. Which was amazing since I cannot imagine allowing fire to be lit on a public street in the USA. Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures.

Tango was not danced by the elite, only the poor. The elite considered it beneath them. “It is for those other people,” they would say, looking down from their high perch. It was not until it went to Paris that it was accepted by the elite in Buenos Aires. Typical.

Now, there are milongas (places to dance tango) that pop up in neighborhood squares, clubs and other spaces available for rent. There is normally a person who organizes the milonga and then spreads the word. Sometimes organizers even have a theme. The one I attended had women wear lacy stockings or lacy nylons. How fun!

This particular piece has been sitting in my drafts for quite some time. I was having a hard time finding the words to truly explain this dance. Tango must be felt to be understood. You must become a part of the dance. Watching tango does allow you to see the beauty and sensuality, but to really know how it feels, you must dance.

There is something raw and primal about the movements, yet elegant and smooth. And being in sync with another human being is quite remarkable.

I hope my words will encourage you to step toward your partner and try to tango. Whether or not you have rhythm. Even if you feel you have two left feet. The power of this dance, the rawness of the movements and connection with another person, is worth getting out of your comfort zone and doing it. If I can do it at age 50 with very little experience, so can you!


Stillness.

Bodies embrace. Arms circling, touching backs. Hands holding. Sweetness of the touch with slight pressure. Torsos rest together. Knees soften.

He shifts left to right. She responds.

Staccato
bandoneon
Sharp and Smooth
violins
Melding
piano

Anticipation as the bodies feel the sounds.

He moves back. She moves forward.

Anticipation.

Torsos continue inching closer. Closing gaps.

Sounds quicken. Smaller movement.

Sounds elongate. Slower and larger movements.

Anticipation.

She leans in further to feel his breath on her neck. His hand moves up her back and settle near the center. She softly moves her arm down his back toward the center.

Quick, smooth movements.

Space.

She turns her legs away, but stays connected to him. Her arm moves down his arm as he holds her closer. Always closer.

He holds the space, until he stops her. She steps over his foot, softly and slowly brushing her leg across his leg.

Small pause. Shifting. Breathing together.

Begin

Quick, smooth movements.

Her eyes close to feel his rhythm. To feel her aliveness. To sense his awareness.

The heart beat and breath connect while two bodies entangle and entwine.