“You seem to want to dance every single beat of the song” she told me some years ago in a moment of feedback between other things in our conversation. “Well… maybe you are right… I also think I do so sometimes” I said and just kept it in mind.
Our tango teacher used to say that when you go out to eat with friends nobody will like the person who is eating nonstop. We all try to have a break from food… have a conversation… communicate and in parallel eat. It’s the same with tango… if you dance nonstop the whole song… it’s like you are babbling nonstop in a conversation not letting anyone else speak.
The pause that changed everything
I always had this feedback in mind. Actually, I felt that some dancers avoided dancing with me maybe because of that. I always tried to force myself to stop… pause… slow down… and then… came covid! I was forced like all of us to completely stop dancing. I was forced to stay away from embraces. When I came back to dancing I found a new respect and joy in the embrace and I actually wanted to pause…. I wasn’t forcing myself to do it… I really felt like I needed to pause. I also maybe realized what was the problem so far.
When you hug a person for a few seconds it’s mostly natural. We all do this more or less with friends and relatives especially when you meet after a long time… right? Have you ever hugged somebody for more than 5 to 6 seconds? When was it? What happened after? I remember for example hugging or being hugged by relatives at funerals for so long. Usually, the hug lasts longer when one of the two needs some kind of healing… relief… comforting. If there is no reason then it feels awkward. One of the two will ask… “what’s wrong?” after those 5-6 seconds.
The pause in Tango forces you to do just that. Just stay there and hug. Maybe move slightly but mostly hug. Before covid… for me, it felt awkward. I wasn’t feeling I needed it. I didn’t appreciate it so much. It felt like music time lost. Now… after living so many months in social distancing…. being afraid to even touch loved ones, friends, and relatives things have changed radically. The pause is not music time lost anymore… is music time lengthened… stretched… to enjoy what we missed so far. Moreover, we all need it to heal from the trauma. To say to each other… “Don’t worry… everything is going to be ok now”. Today, if you ask me what is the most powerful tango step… I will tell you… simply the pause!
Tonight’s Goodnight Tango
For tonight’s Goodnight Tango, I couldn’t have selected anything but a song from Pugliese. One of the real masters of creating moments when you can pause and let the music wash you over, stretching the time continuum for just a tiny bit, in order to enjoy the embrace of your partner. Well, combine this with a dancer like Carlos Gavito and you get what “pause” really means.