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In Praise of the Superficiality of Tango

posted Mar 3, 2015, 4:49 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Jun 5, 2017, 4:06 PM ]
Sharing this post from Tango Therapist. It made me reflect on the power of the dance and the substance and effect of our relationships with other tango dancers. 

'Superficial' is generally a pejorative term but here the Tango Therapist is using the word to refer to how sometimes just a brief contact (a contact of  usually just twelve minutes of dancing) can reveal so much to us about that person, about us, about life, and about being human. These brief connections can be so profoundly revealing, stimulating and comforting.  Yet another reason to learn tango!

north sydney tango lessons
image by: Maurio Moreno
SUPER-ficial Tango Relationships
Posted October 4, 2012

Superficial moments -- whether we like it or not -- shape our personal destiny and even world destiny.

But humans don't like this fact. So we bring order to the world with our well-groomed gardens and well-organized kitchens. And we define our meaningful relationships as having real depth to them, which takes time to teach others what we want from them and learn what they want from us.

But that is not the way of world or even the cosmos.
Face the fact: Tandas may give you better clues to the nature of the universe than the friend you have known for 30 years. You see, just like "superficial" tango relationships, angels also often do not dwell long in our lives.

Angels dance on surface of time, and then leave, changing our entire lives, introducing us to our life partner, leading us to an article or book that changes the direction of our professional lives.

No one will argue that "real" relationships -- family, friends and colleagues at work are far deeper than "superficial" tango relationships. After all, the connection you feel is ephemeral, superficial, and maybe delusional. At best, you must be naive, especially to people who do not know. But if you decide to argue that these superficial relationships are somehow magical, I will join you as one of the few who seem to know that superficial is not necessarily ... superficial.

Let's dare together to be naive. The world will laugh at us. I recommend you not even try to explain to others what you feel in a tango connection. It's ridiculous! It doesn't make sense! But you and I know something that others do not.

You know -- or perhaps better said -- you feel something is more than superficial when you have danced and felt a connection to someone. Maybe you find it hard to find any words for it. "Real" relationships are healthy, and your feelings must therefore be "unhealthy." Maybe you even should be properly ashamed that tango connections have more power than you should allow. So you call your experiences unhealthy by laughing at your tango "addiction" -- just as the cigarette smoker laughs as she takes a deep drag from her cigarette, all the while telling you she is enjoying yet another nail in her coffin.

Your tango relationships can indeed be superficial, but are probably not:
  • You may feel the natural attraction of Yin and Yang (male and female) again, even after having been hurt to the core from an unfaithful spouse.
  • You may feel that the embraces are more genuine than they are at your place of worship.
  • You may feel you communicated more of your essence to someone without words than you ever have with words. And received more of their essence as well.
  • You may feel that the mastery of music is more satisfying than playing in the community band.
  • You may even feel that after watching the news and having a sense that the world is a terrible place that the milonga's order and culture brings back a hope that perhaps the Universe is not such a bad place to be after all.
This thing, called tango, is an addiction? Superficial?
Each person you meet has a message. Because of this I define a true friend as an ἄγγελος, an angel. Angel in Greek is not a theological term but simply means a "messenger." The way I am using the word is for relationships, however brief or long, that influence us in positive directions.

Tango friends have a good chance of being angels.
So if we go by influence -- the influence to be better people -- those who save your life in a brief encounter, and even those whom your rarely see and who try to harm you may influence you to be a better person. These are the deep relationships of life -- superficial only in the face of time. Spotting angels takes patience, like the bird watching. But after one Angel comes and goes, others will surely come.

When I am 90 years old and I have outlived all my friends, and perhaps even my family, will I still have the ability to recognize the deeply important relationships that briefly pass through my life? If I am dancing tango, I will. Or will I feel abandoned in life because all my "deep" friendships have come and gone?

Cherish your SUPER-ficial relationships. The next angel you meet may be someone you are holding for just one tanda. So listen.


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