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May Your Tango be Playful

posted Mar 23, 2015, 7:57 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Aug 15, 2017, 10:03 PM ]
I read this quote today by Esther Perel about the importance of play.  Esther is a psychotherapist, celebrated speaker and organizational consultant to Fortune 500 companies. 

Her thoughts on play caused me to ponder on why we tango.  

"Play is an antidote to the mundane responsibilities of adulthood. Play seems to be seeped out of American life. Even the professional sports player, doesn’t seem to have much playful to him. It’s all dollars and cents. They have a problem with play because they have a problem with purposelessness with something that is just for fun, pure unadulterated play for pleasure. It is hard to work at play.

Play is not about efficiency, results, byproducts or perfectionisms.

Huizinga – Play is absorbing together with an element of uncertainty and usually involves a sense of illusion and exaggeration. True play exists outside of extraordinary life. Americans too often play for a purpose. They play to relax, to be with the kids, they play for self-improvement. They play to feel better, they play to make themselves feel stronger. They focus not on play, but on the benefits of play. In our society people want to achieve some recognizable results, to justify the expenditure of time. We end up using play rather than experiencing it. Play, like hope, springs eternal. Play is pure unalloyed enjoyment."


When I say 'may your tango be playful' I'm not meaning that you need to dance only to happy tango music (not much of that by the way!) have a permanent smile on your face while you tango or do cheeky clown-like tango moves to give you and others watching a chuckle.  You can play tango like this...
north sydney tango lessons
image: Le Tanguerrant

...or you can play tango like this. It's all tango. It's not about the expression on your face.
north sydney tango lessons

When I say 'may your tango be playful' I'm referring to the importance of having a playful attitude and approach to the experience of dancing tango and developing your tango skills.

We talk about the physical benefits we get from tango - improved posture, focus, presence, poise, balance. We talk about the social and psychological benefits - meet new people, reduced alienation, feeling of belonging to a community, greater connection to our body, sensuality and self awareness. Some marriage counsellors suggest to couples that they take up tango to help their marriage.

But one thing that is not so often talked about, and yet is probably the main reason we dance tango, is that it's just such a fabulous way to play! When we tango we can forget and escape the stresses and responsibilities of every day life.

This doesn't mean we don't work (or I prefer to say 'play') at improving our technique and becoming better dancers. But in the process of doing so let's remember that dancing tango is essential a playful activity. Let's not get too obsessed or competitive in the pursuit of perfectionism that tango loses it's fun. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

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