“Tango is just a man walking with a woman so she will fall in love with him.” As soon as our guest Tango instructor spoke those words, I knew that he had the rapt attention of all the women in the class. The men, too.
I’m a romantic at heart. But after sixteen years of marriage I’ve gotten a bit lackadaisical in the romance department. The shelves are thinly stocked except at the predictable times: our anniversary, Laurel’s birthday, Valentine’s Day.
So both of us are enjoying the romance of Tango through our Monday classes here in Salem. Last week Carlos Rojas led us through helpful drills and shared some Tango philosophy.
“Guys, Tango is simple,” he said. “It’s just walking with the woman in a way that will make her fall in love with you.” Carlos and his lovely dance partner demonstrated how this should be done. Then, we all followed suit.
The woman takes the man’s arm. And when he’s ready, he takes a step. She follows, because she’s attached to him. Where he goes, she goes. Leisurely. Calmly. Together. He leads with his whole body, not just his arm. He doesn’t pull her around; he brings her with him gently, yet decisively.
“The man is responsible for his partner,” Carlos added. “He makes sure that they don’t run into any other couples. He ensures that she doesn’t get hurt. He takes care of her.” Then Carlos asked a question of the class, which he answered himself:
“So, who is at fault if the woman makes a wrong move? Always, the man. Always. If he led her to make a wrong move, then it’s his fault. And if he didn’t know that she wasn’t skilled enough to follow his lead, then it’s also his fault. So, it’s always the man’s fault.”
Now Carlos definitely had the women in the palm of his hand. But again, the men too. I understood what he was saying. It was part of the romance of Tango. And he made the men in the class feel better with his next words.
“Ladies, you’ve got to remember that Tango is five times more difficult for the man. Be patient with him. He’s got to lead. He’s got to be aware of the music. He’s got to know where other dancers are in the room. He’s got to avoid them when there’s a chance of a collision. All you have to do is follow. That’s much easier.”
In her book, “The Tao of Tango,” Johanna Siegmann says, “Tango represents the very essence of the male and female energies; the dancers are the physical representation of these energies in each of us…Life, after all, is a Tango—the male and female energy in each of us engaged in a dance to strike the right balance.”
This is what I find so romantic about Tango, how the dance reflects the archetypal essence of how a man and woman should relate. It brings you back to old-fashioned basics. Courtesy, chivalry, seduction, sensuality.
Arm in arm, walking in a way that will make her fall in love with you.