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Tango,Mars,Venus,sexy,dangerous,close embrace,relationships

Is Tango from Mars or Venus?

Sometimes, Tango can become rogue and revert to its original purpose. What was that? It was a means by which a single male could find himself in the arms of a woman. Let’s not beat about the bush here. Many of the moves we see on the dance floor are very suggestive. I will never forget the first time a very beautiful young woman, half my age and a total stranger to me came into a close embrace. I was very new to Tango and had come from an arms-length Ballroom dancing background. This young woman was all over my chest like a rash and her left hand was very close to where the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck. My pulse rate has gone up just to remember it.

It was at the end of a class she had taught which was firmly based on the Basic 8 and in open embrace. There was no possibility to perform the ‘tricks’we had just learned while now in this hug and so I got a grip of my emotions, concentrated on the music and merely walked, simply and musically. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience in a dance sense but I would later come to recognise that she had taught me more in those few minutes than in the hour’s class. Now I am competent to dance in any embrace and actually prefer to be close. Indeed, I can think of nothing more sterile that encountering a partner who holds me away and wants to perform gymnastics. Actually, I can; it’s having a partner who thinks you can chat and Tango at the same time. That’s like having a conversation with a Polar bear who speaks Japanese in response to your French.

It’s clear to me that Tango means different things to different folks. I know several people who have absorbed the entire culture, learned Spanish, learned the lyrics and become familiar with the names of the common Tangos. They have extensive CD libraries of most of the well-known bands and understand the tanda system and the use of cortinas. They like the entire ‘codigo’ the code of Tango, including the ‘cabeceo’ as a way to invite a dance. Similarly, I know many more who think that’s taking life too seriously. Tango is just a dance to them and they care little about the underlying culture. They dance every track just the same as the next their minds full of ganchos, barridas, sacadas. They use the dance but are mot moved emotionally. They are able to stay on the floor for hours at a time because they are committing so little concentration. They certainly don’t appear to concern themselves about other dancers as they lead their partners into manouevres almost guaranteed to cause injury. I’ve seen such people fall over because they were attempting some showboating antic.

They are safe. Why do I say that? They are never likely to confuse what is going on between themselves and the person in their arms with a real emotion. It’s a lark. A bit of fun and they can remain cold to any of the original implications of two people staying in a clinch for several minutes. It’s not surprising really. Their minds are fixated on themselves, not their partners and certainly not on the music. They are only semi-competent at walking in an embrace so usually keep that as loose as possible. They concentrate on a series, if not a downright sequence of named moves whether there is musical relevance or the space for them.

On the other hand, if you are fully competent to walk in a hug and you know the music intimately, you are free to concentrate on the considerable animal magnetism that is now, for perhaps only ten minutes, closer to you than your overcoat on a winter’s night. Rarely would you get within such proximity with anyone other than your significant. I taught weekend courses on close embrace to Anglos whose previous encounters with strangers of the opposite gender had obviously only been handshaking after sedatives. One man quit, unable to deal with an unwanted erection. I have to confess to wondering what his normal management of a wanted one would have been but let’s gloss over that.

You get the point I seem to be labouring? At one level, Tango can stay as a dance, about as arousing as the Morris. At its deepest, perhaps most rewarding level, it can be a flirtation that might lead the unwary to misjudge the signals being given. You doubt it? Without effort, I am able to relive a tango with arguably the sexiest tanguera on the planet. This is a woman that makes dogs howl in the night. I had never found the courage to ask for a dance so maybe she asked me because that would have completed her set. I cannot imagine that she had watched me dancing and yearned for my lead. I’m OK and get my fair share of compliments but not that special. As we danced, she managed somehow to rub the inside of her left thigh up to my waist. No, I had not led a sacada, it was an unled gesture on a straight walk. I can even remember precisely where it happened but not the tune we were dancing to. I came as close to requiring paramedics with a defibrillator as you can be and still complete the tanda. Was the signal intended to be more than a dance move? I never tried to find out; after all, I am a happily married man and intend to stay that way.

I feel sympathy for the women sitting out at Milongas, particularly those who have come with their own life partners. Milongas appear to be places where single people turn up alone and dance with other people’s partners. I imagine their usual lives are less full of the regular intimacy which is the norm in happy relationships. The little hugs and cuddles that go on throughout the day and which we can easily take for granted within a close relationship are still part of how we feel about ourselves. Are we attractive? Are we still desirable? It really matters. If a single man, reasonably de-odourised and groomed can actually lead with authority, he will find himself in demand all night at a Milonga. If the same man has come with his wife, he’d better have developed a strategy that will look after the relationship in the face of the sad certainty that he will dance all night and his beloved may be obliged to sit out, watching him putting smiles on other women’s faces. If he gets carried away by the flattering attention and, at the worst, misses dancing the last tanda with his missus, he is a fool. I’ve known loving relationships forged through Tango but also known as many damaged by this very thing.


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