It makes fools of us all

Why do you dance?

I dance because I love it, because it’s the only place I can take a break from everything and just ‘be’ in the moment.

I dance, because my husband and I use to dance before he passed, and when I dance I feel like he’s right there waiting for me after my tanda.

I dance because I was once a mother of three and after a story that would make Hamlet look like a fairy tale, I now find myself childless, and tango is the only thing that lets my mind escape the dark corners I usually live in.

I dance because it’s the only place I feel safe.

I dance because it makes me feel  like I’m a part of something.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget….

Whatever the reason, to those of us who truly dance it (or are desperately trying to dance it), the significance of the word tango goes well beyond that street dance made popular about a century ago.  The word passion doesn’t do it justice either; it’s closer to an obsession that turns into an addiction, and once you get a good hit, you’ll do anything in your power to get it again.  I’ve heard stories of CEOs, doctors, lawyers, nurses, accountants, astronomers, dog groomers…!!!?!!..... leaving their businesses or practice to devote themselves, almost entirely, to the pursuit of tango.  And just like a drug addiction, it’s something that you can only understand once you’ve tried it and then it’s too late.

There is also another truth universally acknowledged (additionally to the fact that single men of good fortune must be in want of a wife :) ), which is that tango will make fools of us all.  Tango is like the lover who will never say ‘I love you’, let alone, ‘I hope this will last forever’ (Yes ok who really says that anyway…) and for some reason, this un-affirmation is what makes you want to hear it even more.

That’s a little how tango works, whether you’re a world leader of the likes of Barack Obama himself, a sex icon like Brad Pitt, or even a professional dancer with a lifetime of experience, tango will remind you that sometimes you know nothing, in fact you know even less than you realize.

At times, the fear amongst tangeroes learning a new step they cannot master, is so palpable you can almost touch it, like a haze of fog on an English autumn night.  And due to the nature of the dance, this is particularly true for leaders; sometimes during class, you can see how desperately they don’t want to hear the teacher say those dreaded words ‘change partners please’ ... Go reveal yourself inadequate to yet another partner.....,  ‘Noooo, I’ve just barely gotten over embarrassment with my last partner, not again, please.’ their eyes seem to say. The smartest or most prominent of professionals alike, with tango we are all sometimes like scared children that just want to hide behind our mommy’s skirt.

Then when you do get that dreaded sequence, the following day you either can’t do it any better than on your first attempt or you are confronted with something new, and then the entire ordeal starts again.  

And then, tango’s final blow, just when you start to get it; when you’ve broken in your shoes; when even the 12’’ heels start to feel ‘comfortable’; when you start gaining a little confidence; when the quick glimpses of you in the dance school mirror reflect your pretty shoes and handsome partner and reveal a slightly more aligned foot and a straighter left knee that give you enough confidence to say ‘Ok, I’m going to film myself to see how it all looks’…. And you realize that on film you look like those giants blow-up tube men they put outside of shopping malls or car dealerships…..Tango has struck again.

So then why do some many stay in this almost abusive relationship with tango?  Why not just give up altogether and stop feeling like you’re constantly trying to stay afloat in a rising tide or climbing and incessantly growing Everest? Why?

Well maybe, it’s exactly that which makes you want it more.  Maybe it’s that seemingly unattainable final goal that is the secret to its appeal.  Maybe, it’s that putting yourself in a position of complete discomfort and realizing you can succeed, or maybe you fail but you realize you can survive the failure, make you feel ‘alive’.  Maybe it’s that you realize that, just like in life, it’s only when you go out of your comfort zone and reach far beyond the ordinary that you can reach the extraordinary (then again maybe it’s just how beautiful the shoes are).


  1. What a superb piece, brilliantly written! It sums up my relationship with tango perfectly.

    1. The red tube man did make me think of you :)


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