Mindfulness and Tango: On Passion and Possiblities
By Maya Talisman Frost
My husband and I went to see a
production of "Forever Tango!" presented
at the Angela Peralta Theater just two
blocks from our home here in Mazatlan.
After all, since we're moving to Argentina
in July, we need to learn more about tango,
which was born in Buenos Aires back in
the late 1800s.
It was a great show--passionate dancing,
stirring music, spectacular costumes. But I
wanted to know more about how this dance
form started, so I did a little research on the
history of tango.
Despite the fact that we tend to consider
tango to be a dance performed in high
society while wearing gorgeous dresses,
the roots of this dance are decidedly
In the 1880s, Buenos Aires attracted
immigrants from around the world--Germans,
Italians, Africans--as well as those moving to
the burgeoning city from the pampas in the
Argentine countryside. These new arrivals
brought their cultures with them, and as
the lonely working men and women longed
for companionship as well as a bit of home,
a new form of music, dance and culture
Though many still argue the exact origin of
the word "tango" it is generally considered
to be derived from a word describing the
drumming music of the African immigrants.
The Germans added the accordion, and a
new craze in European dancing--a scandalous
new position in which the man actually
rested his arm on the back of his woman
partner!--trickled into the gatherings of those
who were alone and seeking a way to release
their despair and express their passion.
The only women in Buenos Aires willing to
dance in this provocative style at that time
were the prostitutes, so tango was developed
by immigrants looking for love in the
houses of ill repute. Later, men actually
practiced dancing the tango with other
men so they could become skilled enough
to impress the wealthy European ladies
who made visits to the exciting, prosperous
country of Argentina after the turn of the
In fact, Argentina was so wealthy at
that time that those in Paris and London
would refer to someone with considerable
means as being "rich as an Argentinean."
Tango became a dazzling form of
entertainment among the rich and
famous of Europe, and eventually this
higher status was conferred upon the
smoldering dance in its native Buenos Aires.
Of course, there are plenty of examples of
dances that were once considered too risque
for the general public--the Charleston, the
twist, hip-hop--but few have risen from
the lowest class to the highest in such
"What does this have to do with
mindfulness?" you are asking.
You see, tango was embraced--eventually--
once people were able to view it in a
new way. The same bawdy dance carried
out in dark brothels in Buenos Aires was
considered sophisticated and daringly
modern once it was dressed up and
presented at Paris cocktail parties.
Mindfulness helps us see the world in
a nonjudgmental way. It inspires
creativity as well--we can see
possibilities that wouldn't be so obvious
if we were looking through that veil of
What if you DIDN'T consider this particular
thought negative? What if you DIDN'T see
that particular practice as scandalous?
What if you saw the world--and yourself--
as simply full of possibilities?
Learning to watch our responses is a lot
like dancing the tango--we need to be
fully present. We need to be brave
enough to look really, really closely.
If we don't focus, we're likely to
get kicked in a rather personal place.
If we are tuned in, we will flow
effortlessly with little resistance and
Mindfulness helps us move through life
with awareness, creativity, and a
certain flair that says
"I'm paying attention."
Glittering dresses are optional.
About The Author
Maya Talisman Frost has taught thousands of people how to pay attention. Her playful, eyes-wide-open approach to everyday awareness is featured in the Friday Mind Massage, a lighthearted ezine with subscribers in over 100 countries. To sign up, visit http://www.Real-WorldMindfulness.com.