Monday, February 23, 2015

Honest Communications


Men and women have different opinions on what constitutes honesty. Sometimes, because of our true nature, or maybe because of our ignorance of our primal selves, I think that it is nearly impossible for the sexes to have an open discussion.
Tango allows for an honest exchange between men and women in a way that cannot be expressed in words. Perhaps that’s the beauty of it. Maybe putting things into words destroys the true meaning of what we are trying to say. I wonder what we said to each other before language was invented.
When I dance tango I hear so much from my partner that I find difficult to explain in writing. In my humble opinion writing is an exceptional form of communication. It gives us time to consider our thoughts and how and when we wish to express them.

I find dancing tango to be superior to writing. It forces me to convey my feelings without words and without caution. It is a spontaneous endeavor that has amazing results. A tango can be captured on film but what happens between the two dancers cannot. What transpires are moments in time and fleeting…..but honest and true and a rarity in our lives that does not have to be.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Missing Lapushka Once More

Where are you now,
My little Russian Tanguera?
How I miss my chances to make you smile,
Your perfectly calibrated molinete,
Our efforts to make this dance work,
Together.
More than anything,
I miss the love that is in your heart,
Love that could melt snow,
Love that could have pity,
For a man like me,
The straggler, the loner,
The broken daddy,

The tango dancer:-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Tango Crash and Burn


            Tango is a dance where two people, often complete strangers, move as one in an intimate embrace.  The touch of another person, particularly one of the opposite sex, sets off a physiological chain reaction in our bodies resulting in something we call emotions. This is not a onetime deal; our emotional state is in constant flux during the engagement: attraction becomes arousal which morphs into infatuation; frustration becomes anger that transgresses to disgust.
           To dance tango regularly a person must be in control of his or her emotions. Failure to do this can be embarrassing at best and devastating at worst.  
           Emotional discipline is not without consequences. An emotion is a part of us that is connected to the universe at a level we cannot comprehend. Emotion-damming is probably the greatest danger in tango. It is like unrequited love or a constantly recurring dream; it is inescapable because it is part of us.
           Harnessing the feelings unleashed inside me as a direct result of my tango dancing has not been an easy task. Blogging is how I come to grips with the most persistent sensations but there have been others that were not so easily placated.
           Mostly I am talking about attraction and infatuation but there are others. The more I learned about tango, the more I realized what a fool I was to think I was any good at it. Inadequacy, despair and humiliation are just a few of the curves on the emotional rollercoaster of tango.  
           A common scenario has me certain of my performance and the image I am striking in my partner’s mind. Something about her changes and my self-esteem starts to collapse. I stumble and my intentions become unclear. I begin to believe I’ve lost her confidence in me and I crumble inside.
           Several times I’ve found myself so infatuated with a woman that I could not concentrate on my work. As a father providing for two school-aged daughters this was a great dilemma: my parenting instinct was in conflict with my desire for these women. I needed to provide for my children but my passion was making it difficult for me to concentrate on my work.
           I have always resolved this by telling the woman about my feelings. Each time there was a different reaction. Twice I ended up in a relationship but today I am alone.
           Being infatuated is like writing a love poem and I enjoy the experience. I guess it makes me feel virile. 
            After eight years of dancing tango I am learning how to show my partner how I feel through my dance. I am writing rhymes in motion to the rhythm of the melody. I keep my heart on a leash lest it carry me away, careening onto a highway from which there is no exit other than crashing through the guardrails and bursting into flames.



Monday, February 9, 2015

Seduction, Romance, Passion and Tango


               I was talking to a tanguera recently about the passionate aspect of this dance and she replied, “Yes, it should be romantic!” I briefly considered debating the difference between romance and passion until she mentioned it several more times in the next five minutes. I chose to let it pass…until now.
               The nice thing about a blog is it gives me a chance to explore the true meaning of words. I could go to the dictionary and copy the definition here but that would not be of much real use because words have different meanings to men and women.
               I think my respectable lady friend was equating seduction with romance and she was afraid to say so. I could be wrong but that is what I think. I talked to several more women about their concept of romance and how it applies to tango. I didn’t get a straight answer from any of them. One mentioned lust, another was silent and the third answered my question with another question: what does passion mean to me?
               Off the top of my head I could only equate passion with anger but there is more to it than that for a man. So it is also with romance and seduction.
               Romance is what men do to strengthen a relationship. It is something we do without the immediate expectation of sex. Seduction is like romance except there can only be two outcomes: sex or rejection. Romance is like drafting a constitution; we are constructing a framework in which a future as ‘we’ can exist instead of 'you and me'. Seduction is like war as defined by Sun Tzu in the Art of War: it should not be undertaken unless the outcome is certain; failure could be devastating.
               Passion is emotion. Anger, sadness, joy are all emotions. In tango, the song inspires us with passion. Lust is an emotion but it is one that a man must ignore in order to lead. This is one of the great paradoxes of tango: the wolf must be caged but maybe the cage door is open.
               After eight years of tango education my sex drive has been reprogrammed. The desire I constantly held in check has turned into a need to enjoy my partner solely for what I can get from her within the parameters of the dance. Our engagement on the dance floor in no longer an opportunity to drive the ball down the field for a goal; now it is a passionate conversation on the interpretation of music into movement.
               I honestly don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I have to ask myself now, “why do I dance?” For so many years I had hoped that my involvement in this activity would lead to some sort of permanent relationship much like the marriage that I knew so many years ago.
               My mother always said I was meant to be alone. I guess I am a loner who doesn’t want to be lonely. Maybe I think too much about the meaning of romance, seduction and passion. Whatever the case may be, I am certain of one thing: dancing tango brings me great joy.
               In a world of war, famine and calamity, aren’t a few moments of happiness enough? Life is a tango and I guess I’m taking it one step at a time.

               

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Stigma of Follow

  
               For some women, to hear the term follow is like putting salt on a wound they cannot hide. I believe this has something to do with the pain of a past relationship. It is an injury of the heart that I have often encountered within the tango embrace and I have to wonder if this phenomenon is endemic to American culture.
               Of the many workshops I’ve attended, I can tell you that the instructors are very much aware of the hurtful nature of this word. They often try to find replacements for the phrase lead and follow, such as intend and complete or initiate and execute.  
               Some teachers use the tough love approach and tell their students to just get over it. That works for some but not for all.
               Love and war have many similarities. In helping my father put his memories of the Korean War into writing, I learned that men who fought together as a team experienced a bond so strong that their pain was shared collectively. If one man was injured, the whole team felt it. A team consisted of three men and they shared a foxhole together for weeks at a time as the enemy pounded them with terrifying mortars and gunfire.
               He said many times that the death of one was also a shared experience even though the remaining members lived.
               Marriage can be like that. It is not unusual for people who have been married for decades to expire within a few months of each other.
American media is constantly bombarding women with the message that they are smarter than men. I think that leads many women to believe they are undervalued in their relationship and this may be the birthplace of the stigma they begin to associate with the word follow.  
I am certain that I have been the cause of this injury in at least one instance. It was not intentional and it hurt me to see it happening like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
You may disagree with my explanation of the source of the injury and that’s okay. I am not a psychiatrist or someone who can speak to this problem as a professional. I am merely postulating a source. Whatever the cause, it is real and it needs to be acknowledged.
Tango is a dance where the men are men and the women are women. We are hurters and hurtees. The Stigma of Follow can be an impediment to the tango connection but it does not have to be that way. 
When I am dancing I want to experience fully the woman I am embracing. I need to move with her to the music and I can’t do that if she is hiding something from me. Of all the things she has, the thing I want to see the most is her pain. I want to share it with her. 
There is something special about sharing in someone else’s burden. Speaking for myself, it gives me a chance to be the salve instead of the source. It is usually therapeutic for both parties involved but it can be intoxicating for the person who is accepting it; it is a drug that creates missionaries and crusaders.
Don’t let your hurt stop you from dancing. Yes, you will be exposed when you enter that tango embrace but it is that exposure that will free you in the end. When the song is over and the music fades, you will find your cares a little lighter because some of it has been taken from you.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Woman Is Art


               In my last post I talked about the woman’s role in tango. I said she is the song as her partner hears it. I’d like to expound upon that subject further:
               Throughout history women have been the focus of mankind’s artist expression. Beginning with the first fertility symbol and continuing to this day with Taylor Swift. Men are endowed by Nature with a spellbinding attraction to the opposite sex.  
               Try to imagine the role this plays in tango. A man and woman are dancing; he hears the music and tries to convey to his partner what part of the melody moves him. All the while Nature has him under its spell.
               He asks her to move forward, side and to pivot; she does so. Seasoned by his infatuation, her motion appears to him as something that is beyond words; it is as if she can hear the music as he does and is moving in perfect synchronicity: she has become the song!
               He leads another back step. This time, for reasons unknown, she takes one step backward and then another to the side and forward. The rose-colored glasses are broken and his attraction to her dissipates. It happens so quickly that he is not able to hide his disappointment and that feeling is translated to her through the embrace. The dance is diminished.
               To men, women are art. We are programmed by Nature to see them this way. When the follower anticipates, she is moving to her own rhythm and loses a great gift that she has been given.

               

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Monster That Ate Tango


Tango is almost entirely dependent upon the woman. If she responds only to the cues she is given, the dance is a tango; if she moves on her own the tango disappears. Each step is a collaboration and the result is a spontaneous and unique interpretation of the music.

          During the dance the leader is doing many things: listening to the music, navigating, choreographing and conveying his intentions through body language. The follower is doing only one thing: she is being the song as her partner hears it.

It may seem that the follower has the easier task but that is not the case. She is constantly tempted by a demon called Anticipation. It inhabits that space of time in between each dancer’s steps. It lives and dies a hundred times a song. This creature has no place in the tango embrace; it is an abomination that destroys creativity.

          I think that a woman’s ability to wait for the lead is a sign of respect and respect is something all men crave. Respect enhances a woman’s appeal and adds mystery to the outcome of each step.

          Respect is a word with many meanings when applied to the follower’s role in this endeavor. She must give it to her partner as well as to herself. She must be confident in her ability to discern what she is feeling and to act on that information without fear or hesitation. She must believe in her own infallibility or else the tango dies and the monster wins.