Tales of Tango Addiction

Are you hooked on Tango?  I know just how you feel.  In fact, many others have felt the same way!  After extensive research I have found that, although Tango is not incurable (like crack or heroin) most Tango dancers just don’t want to be cured! And most of us are likewise not willing to toss out all those gorgeous shoes!

Tango dancers get strung out on the endorphins produced by dancing. But I’m not talking about just any kind of dancing. Jumping up and down by yourself in a crowded room full of people jumping up and down may be a great cardio workout, and it closely resembles all those Grateful Dead shows I went to in another lifetime,  but it’s not going to make your body produce endorphins. No, for that you need the close physical touch and embrace of Tango. Listen to the words of Graciela López, and you’ll see what I mean.

“Dance, surrender, recreate the leader’s moves, send him silent messages, take advantage of this tango to say the impossible, to speak words that no man will ever understand, a message that no woman can say with words.  Pass secrets to him, … allow him to feel the mysteries of your body wrapped in diligent giros, in tiny steps… Do what comes naturally, don’t think about what others will say.  Play tranquilly, surrender to each other, that’s what tango’s all about, this celebration that puts your heart in your legs and your head in heaven.”  – Secrets of a Milonguera (my rough translation)

“Bailen, acepten, recreen el baile de su compañero, mandale mensajes en silencio, 
aprovechen ese tango para decir lo imposible, lo que jamás ningún hombre entendería,
lo que ninguna mujer podría decir con letras. Pasale secretos…
últimos misterios envueltos en giros diligentes, en pasos minuciosos.
…Hagan lo que se les ocurra, sin temor al que dirán. Jueguen tranquilas,
entregadas, que para eso es el tango, ese festejo que pone 
el corazón en las piernas y la cabeza en el limbo.” Fragmento del libro Secretos de una milonguera, por Graciela López

Now do you see why Tango has an Extreme Addictive Potential? Maybe you’re not sure you’re hooked on Tango.  I totally understand!  After all, I’ve been trying to decide for 9 years.  Since I’m not sure if I’m really addicted, I have to keep dancing so I can continue my investigations. Here are some signs that may help you to evaluate your condition:












hey, what about food and tango?

Now that you have some guidelines to focus on, perhaps you’d like to hear what others have to say about their Tango Addiction:

“Regarding your request about my tango addiction…….I think I am more of a folk dance addict, really, but married to a tango addict.  I love doing the tango but I do not think about it 24 hours a day like he does.  Truth be told, he supplies the clothes and shoes.  Most of the time I just approve the offerings.  Call me lucky and spoiled for sure, but I find myself wanting a respite from all the intense concentration that consumes my partner’s time.  However, I am sure you have noticed that I go, and go and GO to almost all the events.  It is my partner who does all the work of learning and teaching…. he makes it fun and they [the students] all seemed to drink in the first week’s lessons.  It’s a good class and they are catching on quickly. There is a difference in the speed at which young people learn things and it is ever so obvious when dancing with the students.  They already have a good sense of the basic walk and rhythms of tango, vals and milonga.”

Café Tortoni

“But oh, the embrace, the music, the gliding steps. Though I am very budget-conscious (especially right now), there’s something about Argentine tango that makes me want to throw my budget to the wind and just dance to my heart’s content!”

a Tango-related Addiction?

Yeah, she’s addicted!  She wears mostly black and red, she’s enrolled in a Spanish class, hosted a milonga at her house, her vacations are all tango-related, the amount she spends on tango clothes has hijacked her budget, and she knows a sandwich is not just something you eat.


“I am fairly new to Tango and I am indeed addicted. However, at this stage, it is neither the dance moves or the music that has captured me. I do hope to become a better dancer and develop an appreciation for Tango music. But for me, these things are secondary to the fact that I am sometimes having profound transcendental experiences while dancing Tango. This does not happen every time or with every partner. It depends on my frame of mind, who I am dancing with, if we have good resonance, and whether or not both parties are energetically open to the possibility of an extraordinary experience. I believe the reason it happens has to do with true energetic connection (not solely dance or musical connection alone). In this sense, I regard Tango as its own form of beautiful and elegant Tantra, the height of which is to give and receive pleasure.  This all started for me very early in my Tango journey.  At first it happened during class. Then it happened at Practicas and Milongas. Once I had a taste of the prolonged ecstatic bliss that is possible through a deep Tango connection, I knew I was in trouble. When it happens, it is like a drug, capable of stimulating all kinds of natural endorphins and also opening the door to expansions of consciousness. One dance a night like this is better than five or ten dances in the same night without it. While I do understand the need for good technique, I find myself more interested in authentic heart level connection and genuine, intimate rapport which is a people-skill independent of Tango itself. But Tango is a powerful doorway for this. And I am hooked on the fulfillment those experiences provide, when I am fortunate enough to have them.”

“I was at a the US Open Swing Dance Championship weekend in about 1995, bouncing and kicking and lindy-hoppin’ my brains out, when a startling couple came out on the floor for a tango exhibition. They were sleek, elegant, dramatic, vibrant, and oh so tactile and connected. My skin flushed, my heart rushed.  I couldn’t believe this dance, where two pairs of eyes and the heat of two bodies swam into each other and every one surrounding them on the floor. I had only seen the rose in the teeth version where there was the glare away from the partner, looking as if they hated each other…. and I certainly had no desire to do that! This style of Tango, which I later learned was Argentine, made an emotional impact on me that was very conflicting. Immediately I knew that, as a dancer, I wanted the experience of “knowing” this dance in my body (and soul…if you will), and on the flip side, I just wanted to absorb it from afar, because I couldn’t imagine coming close to grasping its powerful essence. Fast forward to a performance in Santa Barbara of Tango X Two…. so exquisite, so complex, with intricacies that seemed beyond human capabilities. That was really fascinating. How do they do that, without ripping each others’ legs apart?  And this music that I didn’t want to stop….ever. It was still several years before I began the baby steps: ‘Just walk,’ he said.”

helping her learn to walk?

“We started out with Ballroom and then concentrated mostly on West Coast Swing and Salsa.  Some time later I saw the end of a National Geographic commercial that had the most intriguing dance that I THOUGHT was maybe Argentine Tango. What were all those fantastic quick leg kicks that intertwined into each other?? That was the beginning of my quest. I even tried to look for that same commercial again. I think I went to their website but no luck…

Several years must’ve passed by… and then the movie TANGO LESSON came out!  That scene where Sally sits mesmerized watching Pablo Veron dancing portrayed me for the next few years. We had asked our local teacher to teach us some, but we needed more. Nothing else was available to us in our small town! Finally I ended up having to drive a good distance on a work night to take lessons. Later I also travelled with other teachers around the world and of course, to Buenos Aires…

My hubbie liked Tango also because every step is led and you didn’t have to memorize steps, routines, etc!  It took me about 2 years to feel comfortable dancing in public. I used to be the one dragging him onto the dance floor…. but it became the opposite scenario: he’d be the one getting me on the floor!  Now it’s like 2nd nature!  Glad to say after many years I’ve been complimented many times as a one of the best followers ever danced with!

My favorite instruments are the strings: VIOLIN especially. Tango music drew me in.  Tango also gives the lady a lot of fun ways to play around and embellish to the music which is a definite attraction…

My most exciting dance was in another foreign country….where the lead was ever so LIGHT but it made my legs swing into POWERFUL boleos and ganchos!!  It literally at first SCARED me to death!! BUT IT WAS THE RIDE OF MY LIFE!!! Since then I have been searching to find how to be taught this!!…

We are not HOPELESSLY addicted to Tango, though we are close! There are some things in life that keep us from dancing as much as we might like.  However we do look forward to when we can TANGO into oblivion!”

“Here is the story of how I became addicted to Argentine Tango. For many years, A— and I attended a Folk Dance Camp in the Woodlands at Mendocino, CA, an idyllic setting in the redwoods. One year, Richard Powers, a master of vintage dance, offered a “special”  afternoon class on the Argentine Tango. The class lasted for two hours. When it was over, A— & I headed back to our cabin to shower and dress (ball gown & tails) for a Ragtime Ball that was scheduled for that evening. A— suddenly stopped on the trail and said: “N—, for the rest the night don’t talk to me, touch me, or ask me to dance. For two hours you have pushed, kicked, and man handled me! This was the start of my Tango addiction.”

do you think she's pissed?

“My personal Tango Addiction was first noticed when I completed 365 Consecutive Days of Argentine Tango on June 18, 2011.  I continued driving an hour or more every night in search of more satisfying Tango! The icing on the cake of confirmation was when I flew to Buenos Aires and got seriously hooked dancing milonga with my friend, Ramiro – our connection bonded great energy while exploring momentum, suspension, musicality, and timing….

As my experience grows, I do not see Argentine Tango as just a dance – it is a lifestyle, and I have grown to be passionate about medialunas, Malbec, milongueros, Gardel, ganchos, Troilo, tangueras, Biagi, bandoneons, blood sausage, boleos . . . and I see dawn much more often than I see noon!”

she's lost her head over tango

“To be a great lead, do not love the woman you dance with; rather, listen to the music and love it!  Beautiful tango is a process of transference – your love for the music will be transferred to the follower, and she will be enchanted.”  – John Vaina, blogger

have to have it every day!

“I started going to Soho Dance Club about a year ago. I go three times a week. It is a windowless basement in Soho, next door to Dunkin’ Donuts. I don’t go there for social reasons any more than you would go to an opium den for the conversation; I go for the addictive, incomparable high of the dancing….

From the first lesson with Santos, I was not so much hooked as harpooned. The novelty of the symcopated timing, my clumsy attempts to embellish, and the soaring, gliding joy  I felt when he shifted up a few gears to demonstrate close embrace, could only be called spectacular.  He clamped me to his chest, thrust a thigh between my legs and drove me across the dance floor with incomparable power. My pulse raced and my feet scarcely touched the ground. I had never felt anything like it: my Tango experience was about to reach the level of Addiction….

Santos and I have developed a warm rapport over time. He is like a friendly drug dealer. My eyes light up when he holds out his arms in the dance position. I spend more time with Santos than with my best friends. You notice intimate little things, such as when he has the sniffles or a hangover, or wears a new shirt. Physically, Santos reminds me a bit of John Travolta, with his immaculate slicked-back hair, luxuriant chest-hair and snug slacks. His booming, strutting manner betrays his Porteño background….

During the past year our tango community has collectively endured three major hair-cuts, one very ill poodle, two work promotions, three romantic break-ups, one father-son rapprochement, one love-match and four deaths. Yet when we are at the Club, these events concern us less. For an hour we concentrate on the finer points of the ocho cortado or the volcada…. Non-dancing friends do not understand the addiction. When not laughing at the mere idea of it, they smile pityingly, thinking it eccentric to go alone to lessons and to give up weekends to dancing. Although I agree with them up to a point, it is now beyond me. I simply can’t help it….

We have a milonga every Friday night and I pretty much have to go. It is not that other Tango dancers expect me to, but I feel withdrawal pains if I don’t. It affects my romantic life too. My last boyfriend wanted to come to milongas with me, but I wouldn’t let him until he had completed a beginner’s course.  So long, Charlie.” – anonymous blogger

obviously & fabulously addicted!

Here’s the tale of a close friend: “I was attending an annual Christmas party with my service club.  It was a very nice event with some very fine friends, dinner and then dancing.  I knew there was a small local milonga going on that evening.  I can remember watching the dancing and trying to get into the evening, deciding if I wanted to dance at the party.  I finally gave up the battle and left for the milonga.”  Yeah, he’s addicted!

dancers in the subte

Uh-oh, can’t pay your bills on account of all those tango shoes you bought?  Here are a few possible solutions to a Tango budget crisis:

•   Sell all your earthly possessions (except tango shoes) and move to Buenos Aires (you can buy more when you get there, they’re much cheaper!)(rents are cheaper here, too)

•   Open up your own Tango Club (you need a tax write-off)

•   Take Mario Orlando’s DJ classes and become a professional DJ (hope you have a trust account)

•   Import Tango clothes and CD’s (a good excuse for all those trips to BAs)

•   Set up shop as a Tango Teacher in the states (they have a joke here about levels of Tango dancers:  1) beginner 2) intermediate 3) Tango Teacher!

must-have Tango items

Still not sure if you’re addicted?  Maybe you aren’t the addictive personality type?  Would that be a Left Brain dominant person, or a Right Brainer? Hmmm, how would I know? If I thought I knew the answer without even checking online, would that make me a Right-brainer?  You know, those annoying people who create their own realities;  they’re so creative, they live in a complete fantasy world! They have no conception of logic, they think facts are a conspiracy created by wacky scientists, and their relationship with the concept of linear reality is like that of a dog running circles investigating every bunny trail while it’s owner takes it for a walk from Point A to Point B. Would this type of personality fall for Tango right away? Would you?

Maybe you’re a Left Brain dominant type. You’re logical, detail oriented, and you believe in facts. You like math and science, you know about rules and can follow them (unlike the right brainer who makes their own); you can comprehend, altho you don’t always get the big picture.  But thank the gods of Tango for you left brainers, because you are so practical and focused. I mean, you’re the ones who list your milongas on-line, so that the rest of us can find them! You think ahead, plan ahead: guest instructors, workshops, Tango festivals… You are so reality-based! You brought us Barbie & Ken, Big Wheels, iTunes, the internet and high heels, not to mention indoor plumbing, electricity and hot showers!  How could the rest of us continue our collective hapless existence without you?

I am the left brain.  I am a scientist, a mathematician.  I love the familiar.  I categorize.  I am accurate, linear, analytical.  Strategic, practical, I am always in control.  A master of words and language.  Realistic, I calculate equations and play with numbers.  Order, logic.  I know exactly who I am.

left brainers make great Tango leaders!

Whoa, not so fast!  What about the artists, the filmmakers, the dancers… those who live in a world of symbols and images, where creativity is the highest holiness, where Writers and Artists are the fallen gods of a supreme Creator? Sure they may be impulsive and impetuous, but haven’t their achievements provoked the rest of us to higher consciousness for the last thousand years, kicking and dragging our heels?

say hi to Salvador Dalí

I am the right brain.  I am creativity, a free spirit.  I am passion. Yearning, sensuality.  I am the sound of roaring laughter.  I am taste, the feeling of sand beneath bare feet.  I am movement. I am vivid colour, the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art, poetry.  I sense.  I feel.  I am everything I wanted to be.

right brainers have more fun!

It occurrs to me that this Right/Left brain concept just might embody the very essential nature of our universe.  I don’t think I want to mess with that!  That would be like cracking the cosmic yin/yang. Seas would part, we might all be walking on water with no water wings. Maybe these contradictions are what Dark Matter is made of, you know, the invisible ruling force of our universe. The Chinese figured this out a long time ago. The I Ching describes this delicate balance of opposites.  I’m beginning to think that it may also explain the addictive power of Tango, despite (or because of?) its stunning, mind-wrenching contradictions!  Without our very own Tanguero duality there would be no Pugliese, no Piazzolla, no bandoneón, no tango shoes! What a sad dark silent universe it would be!

Geez, do I sound like a Right-brainer?  No kidding!  Glad you finally figured it out!

Alright, end of discussion.  You’re addicted and you know it.  You’re secretly quite pleased with yourself. In fact, you wouldn’t trade places with anyone!  Like Shakespeare said, “Tango is the illness and the cure.”  (my neighbor’s cat Shakespeare)  This next quote you can print out and pin on the fridge, dangle it recklessly on top of your work computer, wear it in a locket close to your heart:

THE RULES OF ADDICTION  (from Astrid, SF Tanguera/blogger)

1:  you keep doing it
2:  every time you do it you feel happy
3:  it turns your life upside down but you don’t care.

worn out shoes

And not to worry, friends, yet another solution to your little problem is available here in BsAs:

Tango Therapy classes


Thanks for reading my blog!  I hope each of you has a wonderful 2012, full of LIGHT & LOVE!  Let your light shine!


Over and out from Buenos Aires!  

7 thoughts on “Tales of Tango Addiction

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