What’s wrong with sexy?
“It misses the point.” So says my colleague, dance partner, Reiki teacher and author, Julia Kopala. Easy for her to say.
I am a man. Everything has to do with sex. Right? What other point could there be? Oh sure, my libido has ratcheted down considerably as I approach the sunset years, but nonetheless, the prospect of standing in close embrace with a beautiful woman on the dance floor would seem nothing if not “sexy.” NO? (Am I wrong, Donnie? Stay with me on this.)
Certainly that is the impression that tango likes to give. Particularly performance tango, with a scantily dressed woman hanging off the squared frame of a gangster-fashioned man. This just oozes sexy. (Unless of course you find the lurid images of slit skirt and bodies draped over each other offensive, which, truth be told, at this stage of the game, I do. Bedroom great. Stage, not so much.)
But this is stage tango. This is done for entertainment value and “sexy” sells. This is not social dancing. None of this power-over and submissive posturing makes it to the social dance floor. Although the lead and follow’s steps and skill sets are distinctly different, tango requires such an attentiveness to bodily communication, support, shared axis, that there is no place for power struggles. We are talking mutuality and respect.
Nonetheless, we have a dance with includes physical closeness, sultry movements, sensuality. “Is this not sexy?" “Maybe if you are dancing with your lover,” Julia allows. (My wife and I could attest to that. There has never been anything quite as tantalizing as dancing tango alone in our livingroom.) “But otherwise, no.” “So what is the point then?” “It’s a feeling" “Sexy is not a feeling?” “It is the wrong kind of feeling.”
Sexy is about going somewhere and doing something other than dancing. Sexy takes you out of the moment, beyond the dance. It creates an energy of agitation and anticipation. Tango is the blissful feeling of being totally present in the moment, wanting nothing other than the connection that you are feeling with your partner then and there. Any thought about something else, somewhere else, destroys the feeling.
I agree. In my early days of tango, sexy definitely felt like the point. But after countless three minute liaisons I started looking for something else. I did not know what or why but I felt a draw to keep searching.
I am finding it, I think. It is an acute sense of one’s self in relation to another, in supportive, creative interplay. It is a unique blend of sensuality, communication, connection, intimacy. What word do I give a word to that? A counsellor friend calls it “attunement.”
Could I call it love? (I am always looking for more moments of love in my life.) I reflect on my relationship with my wife. I could give words, a lot of words, but nothing would come close to encompassing the intangibles, the sound of her voice, the comfort of her touch, the surety of knowing she is there with me and for me. I don’t want to compare tango to that experience - nothing can measure up. But, hell, if I can love a pizza! And that creative mingling of attentiveness and affection on the dance floor with an ear to the melancholy strains of the bandoneon. Certainly that has to rate somewhere up on the positive-human-interaction scale.
This has been one of my life focuses - to get to the point where I can communicate with the opposite sex without it being about sex. I grew up in a household where every day presented itself as a battle of the sexes, culmincating in divorce but with a lot of ugliness inbetween. I wanted out. I envisioned a world where men and women could communicate in a way which was healthy, healing, nurturing, connecting, sharing, expansive. Too much is missed or lost if we can’t do this. Too many broken hearts, too many betrayals, too many crimes of passion and violence, all committed in this power struggle between men and women - or, at very least, not corrected by the balance that the other sex could bring, (which is why I find those tango performance poses of a helpless-near-naked-women-collapsed-over-her-partner so offensive.)
The new world order must be shared: neither dominance or submission, neither patriarchy nor matriachy, all connecting on a spiritual level, learning to communicate, share, trust, touch each other, deeply, respectfully. That is the point.
Which is one of the reasons I have taken to tango. Tango puts it all up front. It is all laid out there in front of you. I have 3, 6, 12 minutes in the arms of a woman - perhaps a total stranger - and we have the opportunity to connect at an intimate level, body against body, and create something of beauty.
Julia calls it “tango heaven.” Fine. I will go with that. Sounds like a pretty decent definition of heaven to me.
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006F3M3LK
Check out the whole story at www.traumatotango.com.