Lessons in Tango


Being a single man, no kids and in my mid-40’s I’m afforded certain luxuries. At the moment its Tango.

Tango has always intrigued me. The faces of the dancers. Serious. Sexual attraction and tension. Not so much the music though. I grew up on my mother’s 70’s music and old school hip hop and when I got to high school I started dancing to both. The point is, I grew up dancing to hard beats and rhythms and even when I got too old for the hip-hop clubs, I discovered Salsa; more hard rhythms and African beats.

Now this Tango is something else. The rhythms are different, yet they call me; and the potential to connect with that other on the floor has always been appealing. That’s what I miss about my hip hop days. You could connect. Even though it was a youthful, puberty fueled connection, it was a connection nonetheless. But this Tango connection (I think) is on another level and I intend to find out.

What’s sucking right now is that I’m back at the bottom of the dance social-sphere.

Let me explain.

During my hip hop days, channeling the music through my body came naturally. Salsa not so much. There are rules to Salsa and if you want to be good you have to follow them. If you and your partner want to have a pleasurable experiences must agree to be at a certain place in time and physical space, synchronized to the music. And once you internalize that broad rule, once you can apply learned patterns rhythmically and intuitively that’s when you really start having a good time. But until then? Salsa sucks. And your at the bottom. And the women you ask to dance will stare at you while you bumble along and the women standing around the dance floor will take note of your bumbling and vow to avoid you or just flat out say no. This is a bit of an exaggeration drawn from my many years of being that guy bumbling around but the heart of this is true; you will suck.

That’s how I’m assuming Tango will be.

The problem is vulnerability. I really don’t want to be vulnerable again to rejection and self-doubt. The self-doubt is the worst. Again, some slight hyperbole here but…anyway. I think that being vulnerable can be a good thing if you open yourself up to it in a mindful-buddha-ommmmmmm way.

I’ve taken a few improv comedy classes and one of the concepts I learned was that Improve is about a wiliness to be vulnerable in every moment on stage and once you give into that, you find freedom and with freedom comes creativity and enjoyment.

But that’s my higher self speaking. The me that’s closer to the ground doesn’t want to be vulnerable. My ego is not looking forward to it and I’m not looking forward to being ever vigilant for the mental mind games my ego is about to play on me. The judging. The devaluing of self worth.

And that’s what this is going to be for me. Tango. An exercise in a willingness to be Vulnerable. Something tells me that, within those Tango moments that Ive seen, both leader and follower have opened her/himself up to the other somehow. I don’t know. I’ll find out soon.