Tango attracts introverts and socially anxious people. Many of us tangueros struggle with verbal communication and relationships. That’s not immediately apparent, because at a typical milonga, there are conspicuously many people seemingly socializing. Beneath the surface though, the key activity is creation of a deep body-mind connection that transcends words. With one person at a time. For 10-12 minutes at a time, the duration of a tanda. We can talk between the songs, we don’t have to. We get to know each other very well on some levels, not at all at others.
Sometimes we talk.
I once asked Lesley why she thought people asked strangers stupid questions between songs, when they could be quiet. She suggested that the real question, more often than not, is “How can I get closer to you?”
That is a good real question. I wonder about that often myself. How can I?
This past Friday I danced with relatively few people. With some, more than I usually do. Mike says he does that sometimes when he longs for a deeper connection on a particular evening. Me too.
When I greeted Jason earlier in the evening, I asked if he was getting married or divorced, because he wore a nice suit, also, in reference to a prior joke between us. Neither; he just wanted to look nice.
Mid-evening, we continued joking around, commenting on how fancy this place is, everybody dressed up, jackets, high heels, and all. And that it’s lovely that we have an occasion to dress up for. Unlike some people who only have work for that. On the subject of high heels, Jason stated that, in his opinion, women should wear high heels the entire time, even when hiking or sleeping.
I told him about the mannequin. Near where I live, there is a little Warriors t-shirt market set up upon card tables. The mannequin is the star of the market. It doesn’t have a head, but apart from that, it’s a good looking female mannequin, rather tall for a woman (or would be with a head), maybe size 4-6, nice curves all over. “But no head?” clarifies Jason. “No head, but very nice curves.” The mannequin wears a tight-fitting Warriors t-shirt and tight-fitting pants, like yoga pants, a pretty casual outfit. And still: she has to stand on tippy toes, as if she is wearing heels! “Maybe those are expensive yoga pants, the $100 ones?” Jason suggests. “I don’t know about the pants, but the t-shirt is cheap.” The point is: she is a mannequin! She already looks good! Why does she have to wear heels?! “No head though…” Clearly, Jason’s criteria for what is considered good looks include a head.
“You know, N, what I don’t understand,” he changes the subject. “I don’t go out dancing often, but every time I do, it’s the same people. Do they go out every night? Why??” “I don’t go out every night either, and I can’t read their minds, so I don’t know, but hypothetically speaking, there is value in mastery.” “Is that it though? Is that for mastery?” “I don’t know. I can’t do this, because there are other skills I want to develop, so I made peace with possibly being a dilettante at everything, no mastery.
The tanda ends. “Would you like to dance some more?” I ask him (despite breaking a couple of small rules, it feels right to ask). “Sure,” he says, “but don’t you have other people you want to dance with?” “Maybe, but I want to keep talking.”
We concur that we just have too many interests to dance tango every night. I tell him about mine. Then ask: “What are your other interests?” “Well, I work too much, but I guess everybody does. I play piano.” “Whoa. Not every day, I am sure?” “Why, yes, I try to play a little bit every day.” “There you go then. Mastery. What else?” “Reading. It’s an addiction. I buy 10 books at a time, and then read them all, and get another 10, and so on. But sometimes I just like to relax.” “With a book?” “With a book. By one of my favorite philosophers.”
The second tanda ends. I don’t get to ask who the favorite philosophers are. For now, it is established that tango also attracts a substantial amount of piano playing philosophers.