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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

low class.

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

spectacular form.

"What does this have to do with

mindfulness?" you are asking.

Well, everything.

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

tremendous grace.

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


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