Connect/ disconnect/ reconnect

Tango is …

Intimacy for the Attention Deficit.


Stay with me.

The other day at a casual social function …

I found myself alone with my neighbour on a small square of danceable floor. The trio a few feet away was playing some soft, light jazz. We instinctively ended up arm in arm, doing the simple, sultry, highschool shuffle for the remainder of the song.

How sweet is that?

For about a minute and a half, …. then it started to wear a little thin. By the end of the song there was no thought that we might dance another. Done.


Compare tango.

Three songs, non-stop, same partner and the energy intensifies as it progresses.

(OK. That is perhaps the exception rather than the rule. Often by the end of the tanda I am ready to retreat to my table. But nonetheless, generally speaking a respectably pleasant ten minutes is had by both partners.)


What is the difference?

Complexity certainly. No chance to get bored. No dance is more intricate and complex.

But for me, complexity is not primarily what makes for an engaging dance. In fact, some of the most satisfying dances are the simplest. Conversely, some of the busiest are the most empty.

What makes tango an absorbing dance is not so much the technical intricacies but rather the ….

emotional connection.


How do we dance emotional connection?

Close Embrace or Salon Style?

Typically people attribute the tango high or the warm inner glow that lingers after the dance to the distinctive tango close embrace. But our highschool shuffle was full frontal as well, the entire dance. But without the charge of adolescent hormones which carried us through  highschool and a few years beyond, it wears a little thin after half a dance.

In salon style - moving in and out of close embrace throughout the dance - we potentially heighten the energetic charge from the embrace and strengthen the emotional connection. 


Relational Dynamics

When it comes to relational dynamics … we are all ADHD.

Our attention span is approximately 10 - 12 seconds. The brain and the heart need continual change up, novelty. Too much of anything eventually becomes boring or stressful and breads discomfort or disinterest. Our muscles atrophy or strain. We check out.

A certain amount of closeup brings warm fuzzies and fosters feelings of connection. Too much feels like clinging and inundating.The right amount of detachment breeds strength and independence. Too much feels like abandonment and undermines intimacy.

Couples need breathing room. They need to space to expand, find their own centre of balance, be creative. And then they need to come back together to reconnect, to grow in love, to become the one together that is greater than the one apart.

Our energetic connection is charged, intensified, strengthened by this oscillation between connect and disconnect, closeness and separation. If this connect/ disconnect/reconnect is done with loving intention, carefully, sensitively, then it strengthens  and enriches. If it is done carelessly, disrespectfully, insensitively, then the process actually weakens or undermines the relationship.


The same is true with tango.

I maintain that tango is a mini practica on relational dynamics. Whatever is true on the macro scale of relationships is also true in the micro world of tango.

Tango steps and music allow for changeup regularly. The oscillation between open and close embrace has the potential to emotionally charge the dance and create that euphoric tango high.

The dance of intimacy is not a clinging onto or a smothering. It is the energy or connection that is created in that dramatic interplay between coming together and separating, between holding on and letting go. It is what happens in the middle when equal time and attention is paid to the drama of letting go and embracing. The back and forth, in and out. From dessert to desert to dessert.


Of course, as with everything in tango, there is a right way and wrong way to do this. THere is a way to connect, disconnect and reconnect that feeds the sense of intimacy and a way that undermines. More about this next blog ...