Fun and entertainment
“Tango is not just fun… it’s entertainment!”… a fellow greek tango philosopher told me in a discussion a few weeks ago. Now, in English, the translation loses some context so I will need to explain the difference between fun and entertainment using the greek words.
The Greek word for entertainment (ψυχαγωγία – psychagogia) actually comes from the words spirit or soul (ψυχή- psychi) and the word training or learning (αγωγή- agogi). So the actual difference is that fun is something that just makes you happy but entertainment is actually educating your spirit… your soul. All kinds of arts (theater, music, painting etc.) are actually considered entertainment to some degree because they aim to express ideas… make people think… feel… and ultimately educate their spirits. However, I think tango is a kind of complex and multilayered entertainment. So, why is tango educating, and in which sense?
Lessons from Tango
Well, obviously it is a physical exercise and training where you need to move and coordinate with music and another person’s moves as well. It sounds easy… we all know it’s not… but the more you do it… the easier it gets.
Next, tango is mental training. Yes… you think about the music… analyze it… try to find how to best express it in your body… you think about the steps… the sequences… the musicality… the way your body needs to move… there is a lot of thinking in tango! A lot more than meets the eye!
I am not finished yet. Tango is also great social training. You need to learn the rules… behave properly in the community… use correctly the cabeceo and the mirada… respect your partner… respect the other dancers on the floor… be actively a member of a community by improving your behavior as a member of a team.
I left the best for the end. Tango is also great emotional training and I think this is the most important and difficult part of it. It brings you in contact with emotions and feelings hidden (sometimes deep) inside you… it forces you to deal with rejection… it helps you understand better what your emotions are… it also helps you evoke those emotions and most of all… it teaches you how to express your emotions… (your love… your anger… your passion… your happiness… your sadness… etc.) in your dance… and finally it teaches you how to communicate them to another person and how to listen back for their emotions and feelings.
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
For old milongueros… when you ask them what is tango… the most common answer is … “an emotion”… just like tonight’s Goodnight Tango.
How about you? What do you think? How educating is tango? Is it something superficial? Or is it something deeper that we don’t really get at first glance? Let me know with a comment below, an email, or a PM on Facebook… oh… and if you liked it… don’t forget to share it with your friends.