Nine months ago I started taking Argentine tango classes.
Two months ago I took on the role of assisting my tango teacher.
From my experience so far as a student and as a teaching tango partner, I discovered some very interesting, sometimes surprising benefits of practicing tango.
Before getting there, let me clarify the type of tango I am talking about.
It’s not the competition, sport like tango. It’s not the rose in the teeth and handle the woman like she’s furniture cliches type of tango.
The tango I am talking about here, is a connection based one.
It is one where both partners are co-creating the dance, in spite of the names of “leader” and “follower”.
One where the embrace is used only for the pleasure of it and not to handle your partner.
And it is one where you relax, have fun and enjoy the ride!
To make things simpler I’ve divided the benefits into four categories: body, mind, emotions, social/relationships.
1. Sensitivity and Body Awareness
Like with every new skill you are trying to develop, in the beginning you’ll probably feel clumsy. In time, with practice, you’ll become more aware of the whole of your body.
You will notice you have muscles you had never really put to work before.
You’ll learn to dissociate in between your upper and lower body.
This means being able to maintain the upper body relaxed and straight while your legs are doing some crazy, sexy moves.
2. Posture, Flexibility, and Relaxation
In tango is important to have an elegant, straight but relaxed posture.
In the beginning the mistake is to get tensed and become really stiff.
In time, by increasing your awareness you start to relax.
And when you relax everything goes smoother. Your sensitivity increases with relaxation so you are more receptive to your partner.
3. Opening of the Heart Center. Ability to Connect from the Heart with Many Different Persons
In Argentine tango you learn to connect from the heart. To pass on the message, the leader doesn’t use his hands, like in salsa.
He uses his chest and his whole body. In order to give and receive the feed-back you need to be open and relaxed.
In tango is important to dance with as many partners as possible. That is because each person has a unique way of “talking” the tango language.
So you will need to adjust and connect in as many different ways as partners. In time, you will notice that your connectivity skills have improved a lot.
4. Being in a State of Active Meditation. Being Present and Mindful
To be able to really connect and feel what your partner is “telling”, you need to be 100% present every moment.
You can’t have a chat and dance tango.
As a woman, if you close your eyes while dancing you will enter a meditation like state.
I am not good at practicing still, sitting position meditation. Tango has given me the gift of being in meditation while dancing.
It’s a wonderful place to be in, you need to experience it to understand what I am talking about.
5. Spontaneity and Creativity Through Improvisation
Tango is all about improvisation. There are no fixed sequences to follow.
Once you learn the basic steps and principles you start using them as you like.
The man is leading and deciding what he will do next based on his creativity, inspiration and the response and contribution he receives from his partner.
It is a powerful boost for your creativity and spontaneity muscles, both for men and women.
6. Expansion of the Social Circle and Enriched Social Life
The most important way of learning and practicing tango after you start taking the classes, is by going to milonga parties and practices.
A practice is a place where you go with a partner or by yourself in order to apply what you have learned in the class. It’s a relaxed, non-formal environment, a great way to meet new people and learn together.
A milonga is a tango party. For this one you usually need to dress up, you can’t go to a milonga in your regular clothes.
This is a more formal environment, with specific rules that you learn about during your tango classes.
You should know about how you ask someone to dance, how you use the dance floor and a few more details before attending a milonga.
This is a great way to meet new people, dance, socialize, have a drink and a chat. The music is usually not very loud so you can easily have conversations while resting in between dances.
7. Men Become More Men
By assuming the leader role, men become more grounded in their male energy.
In our modern day society we assist to reversed gender roles: women becoming more masculine, and men more feminine.
This situation has it’s positive sides and negative sides. This is not the place where to talk about this controversial, politically correct gender issues.
However, on an energetic, primal level, I’ve noticed that what makes a couple function naturally well, in tango and in life, is the fact that each partner is honoring his role.
That means the men honoring their male energy, the women honoring and embracing their female energy. And tango offers a wonderful way of putting things back in their natural state.
Among other things, being a good leader means knowing what you do and what you are going to do three steps ahead.
And also paying attention to your partner, to the music and to other couples on the dance floor so you do not bump into each other.
Sounds like a lot to handle but it becomes natural in time. Remember when you started driving? The same happens in tango.
8. Women Become More Women
Assuming the follower role, a woman is embracing her feminine traits like receptivity and sensitivity.
For many independent, corporate type women, this is a difficult task.
I have many friends who have very good dancing abilities but they refuse to learn tango because they are stuck into the “I don’t need a man to show me what to do” feminist ideas.
Tango is a wonderful way for women to become more feminine and more sensual.
From my experience so far I’ve noticed I became more receptive and more sensual.
I’ve also become more open to expressing my femininity and sexuality through more feminine sexy clothes and shoes. Some women are already doing this greatly.
But for those who are not yet so comfortable doing this, tango is a great incentive and environment to learn that.
9. You Develop Your Relationship Skills
I’ve noticed you can have a pretty good idea about how things are working in a couple by watching them when they start learning tango.
One of the first benefits they get is that they learn to stop blaming the partner for any “mistakes”. In time they learn how to work together to create a beautiful dance.
You learn to give each other space.
You learn to trust and follow your partner’s lead and feed-back without criticizing even if it might be quite different from what you thought you would receive.
You learn to smile and get over the occasional bumps, clashes, stepping on toes inherent in the beginning.
You learn to integrate a “mistake” and make it look like a natural part of the dance.
10. Having Loads of Fun
Oh, yeah! Dancing is fun. It should be fun.
If you’re not having fun, then why are you doing it?
So when you get all to serious about it, remember to smile and even laugh at yourself. It helps you relax and enjoy it more.
After all, that’s the main reason you are doing this: to enjoy and have fun!