Rules, risks and returns in Tango



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Banks, risks, rules and breaking them.

One of the latest news stories that we saw develop during the last weeks was the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) which in turn created a series of other issues in other banks with Swiss banks taking a hit from the fall of Credit Suisse. I am not a financial advisor of any kind and obviously, I will not get into details on what happened exactly there. The main theme that you can see from these stories as they evolved was that the fall of those banks basically was due to mistakes in risk management.

In general, banks invest the money we deposit in them in order to get profit and then give us interest. One of the first rules on investment in financial terms is that there is no investment without risk, and generally the higher the risk, the bigger the possible return but also the bigger the possible loss. So if you want to win a lot, it means you need to risk losing a lot too. In general, I would say this is a rule that accompanies many other aspects of our life.

One can obviously see the same pattern in criminal activities. Take robberies for example. The bigger the target, the riskier it is for someone to be caught, and also the bigger the penalty they will pay. Here there is another parameter. The risk is often combined with somehow breaking rules. In general, one can say that breaking the rules in any kind of system introduces a risk. In many cases, rules are usually there to prevent us from dangerous risky situations.

Breaking rules in Tango

What do all these have to do with Tango? Well from the first steps in Tango, you learn about rules like keeping your balance on one foot, do not fall but transfer gradually your weight when you step, do not bounce up and down when you walk, etc. Have you ever wondered what will happen if you break them? You guessed right… you take a risk… and as usual the bigger the risk the more the potential returns. I will mention three examples where I usually break rules and the return I get (sometimes).

A tanda with early 30s songs starts. We embrace and dance to the first song. The embrace is close, comfortable, and cosy and the music feels quite playful. The second song comes in with a quite upbeat bouncy rhythm. I embrace her and start small bounces in the rhythm from side to side and then continue to some bouncy steps. I feel her cheek swelling from the smile. Mine does too. That was it. In the end, she still remembers the bouncy steps and comments on how fun it was.

A d’Arienzo tanda from the 40s with Maure. When Maure starts to sing I pause, spread my legs a bit apart and shift slightly and slowly my weight between them. She reacts, by doing some slow nochelic backcrosses in order to keep in front of me. My weight however is always shared (maybe not equally all the time) between the two legs. At the end of the song, she comments how much she liked this moment of this tiny, slow motion that allowed us to enjoy the moment in music. It couldn’t have happened with me trying to keep my balance on one foot.

The melody line of Verdemar from DiSarli enters and I let my body fall slightly in one direction doing a couple of steps just to regain my balance. I shift my weight in another direction letting myself fall just to catch my weight and do a couple of steps right while Rufino sings Verdemaaaaar. We float back and forth on the dance floor like a ship in a rough sea. Every new line from Rufino is like a new wave hitting us in a different direction. At the end of the song she says nothing… she does nothing… just stays there in my embrace… and I stay there in hers… until the next song starts… until a new journey on a rough sea will take us to a new shore.

The gain

Did you spot the pattern? Three classic rules broken, three different results, three different gains. But is there something in common between them? Yes. The pleasure from the tanda. Either expressed verbally, with a smile or with a nonbreaking embrace, or in any other way… These are the moments we are looking for when we dance. Not just because you got a compliment. No. Because most of all you co-created a moment that you will remember for a while.

Do you know why this memory will last longer? Because it was out of the ordinary, it was breaking the usual expected behavior, it was breaking the rules and somehow you were both complicit in committing this “crime”. You both agreed to break the rules, took the risk, and did something unorthodox. Like when you were children and did something with your friends or siblings… something that was forbidden by your parents… some small naughty mischief that you still remember and laugh about. You both broke the rules, you both knew it, you both felt good doing it and you wanted to keep it a secret between you until the next time you break some other rules.

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is exactly about those intimate secrets. Those secrets that we trust to no one. Those secrets of all those times that we took the risk… we broke the rules… and managed to reach this “castle with the glass bridge”… Bliss!

So how about you? Have you ever found joy in breaking the rules on the tango dance floor? What’s your most memorable experience of breaking a tango rule and taking a risk? How did it affect your dance and your partner’s experience? Did it create a unique connection or a shared secret moment? 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.


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