From outside the world of tango, people often see it only as a place where other people chase illicit pleasures, the kind that most cultures don’t easily allow: full-body contact with multiple partners in dimly-lit public places.
Tango, they say, is all about sex.
It’s hard to deny. There are all those quips that people like to repeat, such as, “Tango is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire.” Or like the experienced milonguera counseled me when I was just starting out, “Kevin, every dance should be like a 3-minute orgasm.” (If she was telling me this, it was because mine weren’t.)
When you go to the milonga, what do you see? You see the fancy dresses of the women, the exquisite shoes, the exposure of skin in unexpected, enticing places. All that closeness. All that sensuality. The men who strut and preen, some gentle, some rapacious. And there’s that embrace that puts two people impossibly close together even as they move like fluid on the dance floor.
Through rhythm and movement two bodies create a thing of ecstasy and beauty.
A lot like sex – yes. But also more than sex.
When I dance a really good tango with someone, I am already sated. I do not need more because we have already reached a sort of pinnacle of communion that cannot be surpassed. This feeling of completeness can only be equaled perhaps another time, in another dance. But not surpassed.
I think of tango as that thing people aspire to when they want to make love to someone else.
It is a balancing act. It is precarious. It can be sustained for only a short time before we fall back down to earth – which is why at a milonga you dance one set with someone and then go back to your own table.
Sex, I would say, is a simplified version of tango. Tango is what sex promises to be but often isn’t.
Yes, I agree with them: Sex is all about tango.
By Kevin Carrel Footer – www.kevincarrelfooter.com
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Write me here or leave a comment below.
Want more of my writings on tango, Buenos Aires and the Creative Life?